Despite the overwhelming number of Zinfandel producers in the U.S., the MVP of carrying the varietal’s reputation may very well belong to Larry Turley, who has spent the last thirty years in California dedicating his days to preserving and furthering Zinfandel’s cause. So much so that since the co-founder of Frog’s Leap Winery first left to start his own winery in 1993, he has built a portfolio that includes 47 wines across 50 vineyards with 29 of them dedicated to the Zin varietal!
Today, his protege, winemaker Tegan Passalacqua, (a noted Zinfandel and Petite Sirah specialist in his own regard), is the man tasked with overseeing the entire winemaking operation. On top of that, Tegan and his wife started their own brand, Sandlands concentrating on making lesser championed wines. Sound like a lot? You don’t even know. Wine Spectator pointed out that in the 2017 vintage alone, Tegan made 49 different wines from 13 different counties in California under the Turley label, and another dozen wines for Sandlands.
But for those who may be worried that Tegan’s five dozen wine a year portfolio stretches him too thin, need not worry about the Turley Kirschenmann Vineyard– because Tegan owns and farms this vineyard himself. Armed with ungrafted vines planted in 1915 in the sandy soils on the east side of Mokelumne River, the river’s cool waters and delta breeze help protect the vines from the heat while maintaining ample sunlight. The results of the Turley Zins crafted off this vineyard are stunning. If you haven’t had one yet
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92-94 Points, Vinous
The 2018 Zinfandel Kirschenmann is a perfect example of what makes this vintage so appealing. Always a lighter, rather perfumed wine, the Kirschenmann has striking mid-palate sweetness and depth, both of which round the wine out beautifully. Ripe blueberry, mint and spice notes all run through this racy, expressive Zinfandel.
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