Thursday, June 23, 2011

And Now, For Something Completely Different

The other night a good friend of mine came over for dinner. He's also a wine lover, but his cellar is full of current California Cabernet and modern day wine from Bordeaux. Trust me though, he is a truly lovely guy. He arrived at my house carrying a 375 ml bottle of 2001 Turley Paso Robles Zinfandel Delinquent. This is a late harvest dessert wine that is not available in stores. You have to be on the Turley mailing list to be offered the wine, and apparently not everyone on the mailing list has access either. It's some sort of Turley secret society, perhaps.

I will be honest here - when my pal showed me the wine he brought, I felt a bit concerned. It's so far away from everything that I drink and love - what if I didn't like it? I didn't want to be faced with the choice of critiquing my friend's wine, a wine he loves, or fibbing about liking it. Happily, I never had to make that choice. I didn't love the wine, but it was quite interesting and I'm glad I got to try it. Actually, my friend was more critical of it than I was. And I will point out that this is not the first time in this blog's history where I have been surprised at liking a Turley wine.

First, the problems: the wine showed a lot of alcohol. It wasn't so intrusive at first, but 15 minutes in and the alcohol took over the nose, a rubbing alcohol aroma. It ebbed and flowed, but there was no mistaking it. The label says 20% alcohol (and 9% residual sugar), so I suppose that it isn't strange to sense it on the nose. Still, this wine is not handling its alcohol well.

That's it - that's the only problem with the wine, if problem is defined as "flaw." Other than that, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. There were articulate chocolate and orange aromas, and also something that reminded me of the medicinal herbs that I sometimes smell in northern Italian wines. The palate was spicy raspberry liquor that was very intense without being cloying or heavy. It's a dessert wine made of Zinfandel - not something that I will buy, but by being open minded I found that there were some things to enjoy there.

I worry that I might not be open minded enough. Not saying that I should spend more time with California wine, or give the Aussie Shiraz a fair shake. But it's easy to set my mind within the regions that I do know and love, to have decisions already made about which Beaujolais I love, which Vouvray I want, which Burgundy I will buy for young drinking, that kind of thing. This Turley dessert wine was a nice reminder for me that my preconceived notions are valuable and I've earned them through my own experiences, but it is wise also to be open minded, to be eager, almost, to be wrong.


King Krak, I Drink the Wine said...

Ha, I was once a member of that secret society. Alas, that was quiet awhile ago; I accumulated more than 100 bottles - I was getting the Big Allocations. But rarely drinking the wines. Actually, I drank the cheaper, Old Vines, as they went with food, but the high scoring, high alcohol, higher priced - rarely.

Sent to Winebid. Have maybe 4 bottles still (97-02). Some were great with cheese. Delinquent was good with it, too...drank that with my Dad, who loved Zin.

Anonymous said...

I don't drink the New World stuff (my wife gives me the look if I even mention it), but a thoughtful local wine merchant explained to me that he has gravitated away from the geeky stuff to this, and his explanation makes some sense. He no longer eats meals, but rather nibbles on smallish plates. He likes the "fortified" quality of New World wines and thinks they go better with his new eating style (from which he's lost a lot of weight). Not my taste to be sure, but I will admit that I seem to drink more when it's lower alcohol and probably end up consuming more calories. (Of course, I'm not also drinking the pesticides he's taking in.)

jason Carey said...

You should spend more time with California wine and the producers you might like or love that match what I have deduced from reading your blog for a few years are the wineries below..
Cobb, Littorai, Donkey and Goat, Wind Gap, Peay, Edmunds St John, Dashe (enfante terrible series only) Nalle, Quivira, Broc Cellars, Clos Saron.. and don't you drink delicious NY State wines too.. ? You might like those too..if youlike Loire and artisinal Beaujo, how about wonderful Cab Franc and Merlot from LI?