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Heavenly Zin from California
When Bill Heritage, owner of William Heritage Winery in south Jersey, says that a place is his one of his favorite wineries, you better believe I'm going to listen.
While chatting to my favorite staff member M. over a tasting last fall (when we could still do radical things like that), I heard about Turley Wine Cellars. You can find some of their wines online elsewhere, but the least expensive way is to get on their mailing list. You get an invite to buy from them just twice a year. (They offered a summer release for the first time this week, which I assume is in response to Our Current Situation and their tasting rooms being closed.) They specialize mostly in zinfandel and petite sirahs. And since I've been on this zinfandel renaissance of late, I wanted to see what higher quality zins are like these days.
If you do sign up for their mailing list and get notified about their shipments, I advise jumping on it almost immediately. I waited a couple days and missed out on the petite sirah I wanted to order. (Just a note I'm not getting any compensation for writing about them, and I bought my wine via their regular process just like you would do.) I ordered in January, and the wine shipped out in March.
I bought three of their 2018 zins all from different vineyards, two bottles each. For my first tasting I tried the "Buck" Cobb Vineyard ($28) Zinfandel from Amador County and Duarte zinfandel ($33) from Contra Costa County. Amador County is in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, while Contra Costa is closer to the Bay Area near San Francisco.
Both wines are excellent! Buck Cobb is a little leaner and has way higher acidity. Duarte has a much more plush mouthfeel, with more cocoa on the palate along with blackberry. Duarte would go great with a ribeye or something with a bit more fat, while Buck Cobb's lighter feel and crispness would go with a ton of other foods, like roast chicken or salmon.
So if, like me, you'd soured on zin after drinking wayyyyyyy too much of the cheap stuff (looking at you, 7 Deadly Zins), give your palate a break, save your pennies and go for quality. It's a pandemic, people. We might as well be as good to ourselves as we can. And support some hardworking wineries in the process.