Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Lodi Cinsault: Turley Wine Cellars

Cinsault, the oh-so-blendable grape, got a moment in the spotlight during a Lodi Wines BrandLive virtual tasting event recently, and it made the most of its time in the spotlight.

The subjects of the soirĂ©e were four wines produced from grapes grown in Lodi’s Bechthold Vineyard.  Bechthold is Lodi’s oldest vineyard - planted in 1886 - and the Cinsault vines there are ancient, head-trained monsters - the kind winemakers respond to in the same way a starving man eyes a steak dinner.  Their reactions are basic, monosyllabic and guttural.  “Need! Want!”

Lodi Wine notes that old vines "tend to produce more intense wines because older vines naturally set lower crops."  The lower a vineyard’s yield, the more concentrated the aromas and flavors from those grapes.  “Bechthold’s old vines… continue to thrive while regulating their own fruit production, without a lot of human intervention:  the hallmark of “old vine” viticulture.”.

Turley Cellars' Tegan Passalacqua claims, "Bechthold Vineyard defies what a lot of people think of Lodi wines.  It makes a red wine that is not heavy, not high in alcohol, but rather, light and refreshing.  It reminds me of crus Beaujolais in some ways – it has structure, but also high drinkability, and its aromatics are intoxicating, extremely perfumed."

2013 Turley Wine Cellars Cinsault

Of the three dozen or so Turley wines, most of them are single vineyard designate Zinfandels and Petite Syrahs.  They focus on old vines, which means a portion of Bechthold Vineyard is decorated with a sign reading, "Turley."

"Planted in 1886," says the Turley website, "this Cinsault vineyard is the oldest of its kind in the country - perhaps even beyond.  The vines are gnarly, head-trained and planted on their own roots."   Owner Larry Turley and Tegan Passalacqua, winemaker & vineyard manager, both have a thing for old, gnarly, head-trained vines planted on their own roots, so they naturally gravitated to Bechthold.

The Turley Bechthold Vineyard Cinsault offers a tart nose of raspberry, nutmeg, pepper and earth.  Flavors adhere to this pattern fairly closely, with the addition of some black cherry and tea.  The mouthfeel is smooth until the latter part of the sip, when a vibrant acidity comes alive.  

On Twitter, @BigNoseWino asked of Turley, "Do you ever whole-cluster ferment Cinsault?"  @norcalwine answered, "The Turley is whole-cluster."  From @myvinespot, "the ’13 Cinsault: Bright and supple, streamlined mouth-feel, red fruit character, spice, nice mineral edge."  @dvinewinetime says the Turley "is very light in color; drk pink-earthy with smoked cherries. Complex."  @martindredmond notes that the "@TurleyWines Cinsault offers killer value at $17!"  And it certainly does.  @norcalwine couldn't believe it.  "Is the Turley really just $17? Can you hold a few cases for me? I'll drive right out."  

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