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Turley Judge Bell Vineyard Zinfandel 2013

Zinfandel from Amador, Sierra Foothills, California
  • RP94
750ML / 0% ABV
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Winemaker Notes

This wine comes from the Picnic Hill block of the Story Vineyard in Shenandoah Valley. The head-trained, dry-farmed, and own-rooted vines were planted in 1907. The wine has the characteristic Amador bramble, structure and red fruit.

Critical Acclaim

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RP 94
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2013 Zinfandel Judge Bell comes from a block of vines planted in 1907 known as Picnic Hill Block in the Story Vineyard. These are classic head-pruned, dry-farmed, ungrafted vines planted eight years before the beginning of World War I. One of the best Amador Zinfandels I’ve ever tasted, this wine displays plenty of briary raspberry, black and red cherry as well as boysenberry fruit, good underlying structure, some earth, pepper, meat and spice. It is full-bodied, rich, heady, and somehow manages to brilliantly conceal a whopping 16.2% natural alcohol. Of course, a wine like this would be excoriated by the “in pursuit of balance” crowd, but this is what balance is all about – what looks to be a mind-numbing amount of alcohol is incredibly well-concealed. This wine should drink well for 8-10 years.
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Turley

Turley Wine Cellars

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Turley Wine Cellars, California
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Turley Wine Cellars was founded in 1993 by Larry Turley and makes forty-seven wines, the vast majority of which are single vineyard designate Zinfandels and Petite Syrahs. By focusing on old vine vineyards in particular, Turley aims to both create and preserve California’s unique winemaking culture.

All of Turley’s vineyards are either certified organic by California Certified Organic Farmers or somewhere in the process, and the winery uses all natural yeasts in the fermentations.

Turley aims to be stewards of some of California’s most distinctive vineyards, producing authentic wines that reflect their heritage.

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As the lower part of the greater Sierra Foothills appellation, Amador is roughly a plateau whose vineyards grow at 1,200 to 2,000 feet in elevation. It is 100 miles east of both San Francisco and Napa Valley. Most of its wineries are in the oak-studded rolling hillsides of Shenandoah Valley or east in Fiddletown, where elevations are slightly higher.

The Sierra Foothills growing area was among the largest wine producers in the state during the gold rush of the late 1800s. The local wine industry enjoyed great success until just after the turn of the century when fortune-seekers moved elsewhere and its population diminished. With Prohibition, winemaking was totally abandoned, along with its vineyards. But some of these, especially Zinfandel, still remain and are the treasure chest of the Sierra Foothills as we know them.

Most Amador vines are planted in volcanic soils derived primarily from sandy clay loam and decomposed granite. Summer days are hot but nighttime temperatures typically drop 30 degrees and the humidity is low, making this an ideal environment for grape growing. Because there is adequate rain throughout the year and even snow in the winter, dry farming is possible.

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Unapologetically bold, spice-driven and jammy, Zinfandel is often thought of as California’s flagship grape. And it fact it owns this title by having the ability to adapt to the states’ many microclimates and landscapes, producing unique expressions of the grape throughout. Zinfandel thrives in California’s Central Coast, as well throughout Sonoma County, parts of Napa Valley, the Sierra Foothills, Lodi and Paso Robles.

Zinfandel was born in Croatia and later made its way to southern Italy where it became known as Primitivo. The astute imperial nursery of Vienna collected specimens of the vine and acted as the source of its journey to New England, carried by George Gibbs circa 1829. Eventually, making its way to California around the Gold Rush of 1849, Zinfandel found its new home, parading the true American spirit.

In the Glass

Zinfandel commonly expresses powerful notes of dark plum, blackberry, sweet spice, dark chocolate and licorice. Very ripe examples may express a hint of dried fruit like raisin, fig or prune. But Zinfandel grown in cooler, coastal zones often expresses red fruit, black pepper and fresh herbal characteristics of juniper and menthol.

Perfect Pairings

Zinfandel is a powerfully flavored wine, mingling happily with bold food like brisket, lamb shanks, pork ribs or anything barbecued. More delicate Zins work with pork, lamb curry and even Ceasar Salad or Salad Nicoise.

Sommelier Secret

Thanks to its popularity both for home winemaking and as communion wine, many Zinfandel vines were able to survive prohibition, leading to the abundance of "old vine" Zinfandels. These low-yielding, ancient vines tend to produce wine that is deeply concentrated, delicately perfumed and decidedly complex.

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