Drinking and Aging Turley

Had my first ever Turley last night, 2012 Dusi Vineyard Zin

I enjoyed the wine a lot, big fruit forward flavours. The funny thing was that for such a big wine 16.3 % ABV i was amazed at how easy going it was their was almost no backbone to the wine and certainly no undeveloped tannins. This just indicated to me that this wine is ready to drink now and I could not see how it could significantly improve with any age i could only see how it would decline as the fruit disappears.

Is this typical or am i way off base


Yup, Alan…pretty much my take on the Dusi Turley…though haven’t tasted the '12 yet.
The Dusi Zins (Ridge & Turley) typically have huge boysenberry fruit typical of that vnyd, w/ very soft/lush/ripe/smooth
tannins. I wouldn’t say it has no backbone, as the tannins are there. They’re just very smooth textured and don’t hurt on the palate.
I assure the wine is not all down-hill from here, though. It’s already such good drinking and should maintain that character for another
5 yrs or more, but won’t make any dramatic evolutions I suspect.
The Turley Zins typically carry pretty hefty alcohol levels. Yet I seldom find they are hot/alcoholic/fumey & out of balance.
I’ve followed the Turley Zins from the very start. In the early yrs, under HelenTurley’s winemaking, they developed the reputation
of being highly alcoholic, over-oaked, over-extracted, over-the-top wines. When Ehren took over the winemaking reins, the Zins showed much
more restraint (though typically high alcohol levels), less oak, and more expressive of their vnyd source (that “terroir” thing the wine geeks babble about).
But they were still tarred by the early HelenTurley reputation. And I think the Turley Zins will only get better under Tegan now.

I had that bottle recently, and it was one of my less favorite Turleys in awhile, a bit too ripe, sweet and heavy for my tastes. But I think that’s somewhat the Dusi zin, and it’s why I’ve tended to buy Ueberroth, Pesenti and some others that are more my style.

I would say that in general, I prefer Turleys in their first few years after release, and this 2012 Dusi in particular doesn’t seem like a longer-term wine. But I don’t think there is a rush on any of these either.

I just picked the Dusi at random from a mixed case, is it the case then that this is the easiest drinking of all Turleys even at 16.3 %

Two things. 1) I drink the zins young and am letting the PS age forever. 2) Pesenti is my favorite of their SV wines, I think.

Dusi is a good Turley to drink early just like the “Paso Robles” (from Benito Dusi Ranch across the highway) is a great Ridge Zin to drink while you wait for your Geyservilles and Lyttons to come around.

Regarding Turley aging, I hold my Haynes, Ueberroths, 101s and Fredericks a bit longer than some of the others. My Turley Zins go back to 01 (a “Pringle”!) and I have several 06s, that I’m in no hurry to consume. I’ve had Turley Zins over a dozen years old that were fantastic.

Turley has its mojo running at full throttle right now!

From my experience, the Turleys hold but don’t age. There is no significant development in the bottle, so I would drink them young. Not like Ridge zins, which age quite nicely.

Yup…Howard knows of what he speaks here. I seldom find the dramatic/compelling improvements in the Turley (Zins) w/ btl age
that you consistently get w/ the Ridges. And often they just seem to sorta drop off the cliff.

There definatly is a drop at some point. I have had 27 turleys in the last two years. The 08 dusi was great at five years old. But i bought a few older bottles where you could tell they had passed their prime and were on the downward slope.

Good summary. I think the biggest change over time, to me, seems to be the amount of new oak. Turley still has the ripeness and exuberant fruit, but without the heavy layer of oak, there is more complexity and less creaminess and heaviness and vanilla/chocolate stuff overall. I think Carlisle, Denner and some others are finding a real sweet spot in these kinds of wines by dialing back the oak.

That’s just a perspective as a consumer – I have no knowledge what exactly has changed or not changed in their processes.

I don’t mean to hijack the thread (maybe this deserves its own), but I thought I’d pose a question while I have the attention of some die-hard zin fans.

Does zinfandel improve with age, beyond softening and becoming more accessible? By that I mean, does it actually evolve and develop the “tertiary” aromas that are so prized in other varieties such as cabernet, syrah and pinot noir? Ridge Geyserville and Lytton Springs seem to have quite a repuation for developing in complexity as years go by, but I’m wondering if that would be more on account of the petite sirah, carignane and/or other varieties that are part of the blend. Would a 100% zinfandel would take on much in the way of added nuances 10 or 15 years down the road? Unfortunately, due to my wine cellar having been essentially dissolved over 10 years ago following a divorce, I’ve never had a 100% zin that was more than 4-5 years old, so I’m curious to hear what your experiences are. (I’m starting to amass some great Ridge stuff in my small cellar, some 100% zin, some blends.)

Quick question to the posters above. Have you had significant experience with 10 year or older Turleys? Question asked without prejudice, just curious.

The question on 100% Zin to me is somewhat irrelevant, because the old vineyards are for the most part always mixed blacks, so to me that’s what “Zinfandel” actually means. If it’s from old vines, odds are it’s not 100% Zin even if it’s labeled as such. There are surely many young zin vineyards putting out 100% zin, but these aren’t going into serious wines that you would age. That said, probably the one place where you do get blocks of old-vine pure Zin is Monte Rosso, and these can age quite spectacularly, but you’d never extract any generalities from there since the acid signature is unique and so prominent.

To the OP: I’d say the Dusi is typical of Paso, and mostly typical of Turley in that they do a great job of letting the terroir shine though the wine. It can take some time, but you will learn which vineyards you like and which you don’t. Most Turleys I drink within 5 years of vintage (drinking '09s & '10s now) but some are built for aging. I let the Ueberroths and Haynes get more age, as well as the Duarte and some of the Napa mountain vineyards. One thing I have to say though, and for this reason we probably drink more Turley than any other Zin, is that I never grab a bottle of Turley and worry that I’m opening it too young or that I could get more enjoyment by waiting. For this reason my Ridges sit and my Turleys get drunk. They’re one of the easiest wines to enjoy, and I don’t think that should be pejorative.

Guess I should throw away my 97 Haynes and Sears.

Sometimes, yes. I had a 1992 Williams Selyem zin a year or two ago that was mind-blowing. Was it like a 1961 First Growth? No, but it had really developed nicely, and this was just the Sonoma appellation blend that probably cost $30. I’ve had SVD Ravenswoods and Dry Creek and even just basic appelation bottles from producers like Edmeades and Gary Farrell that have really stood out at 10-20 years of age.

To some extent, California zin and pinot are a victim of their own success in this regard – they drink well at early and middle ages, and as a result, few people let them age, leaving us with very limited data and experience on which ones age in what ways for how long. By contrast, it’s not hard to lay off your 2005 Bordeaux and Burgs – they aren’t any good to drink yet anyway, so most people are going to wait until a better age.

I’m not saying California pinot and zin all age like 2005 BDX and Burgs, just that the ability to enjoy them at all points along the way results in there being few aging examples. Loire reds and German rieslings may be similar in that regard – few people age them because they are plenty tasty without aging, but that’s not to say there aren’t rewards for the patient, at least with certain wines from certain vintages.

If you’re really curious about whether to let your zins age, the good news is that older zins are usually dirt cheap at auction, so you could easily experiment with Carlisle, Turley, Ravenswood, Dry Creek, Williams-Selyem, etc. at various older stages at little cost, and see for yourself what you think.

One thing ive observed that even over the last five years the amount of oak is generally reducing, i could not be happier. Who ever decided oak was a good flavour !!

Good points Chris.

My experience with Turley Zins is that they don’t really reward aging. The 1997 Haynes crapped out years ago IMO. I drink them young if I’m going to drink them. Their Petite Sirah may be their best wine and I have a few 1999s - had one a couple weeks ago and it is still drinking well. If you like PS of course.

As to whether Zin itself can age - I don’t think it really depends on whatever else is in the mix. It depends on the year, land, and winemaking. The more I taste, the more I’m convinced that almost any grape, when handled correctly, can age and develop. The aging curve may be quicker for some than for others, but it’s there. For red grapes I don’t know of any that age longer than Tempranillo and Nebbiolo. but that may simply be from lack of experience because I’ve never had a 60 year old Aglianico or Zweigelt.

OTOH, Barbera, Gamay, Zin, and Malbec can be surprisingly complex at 15-20 years. One thing Ridge did, and it’s why people respect their Zins, is they treated the wines with respect. They didn’t try to push Zin into becoming some monstrosity, nor did they relegate it to being some cheap plonk. The result is wine that merits aging. I think the same can hold true for many grapes that people don’t think about in those terms.

Larry, Chris and Greg,

Many thanks for your thoughtful responses. Good stuff.

I disagree. I have been drinking Turley since the 1994 vintage. The Zins do age well and develop really interesting secondary characteristics over time swinging away from the bright young fruit to more Rhone like in character. I had an 01 Juvenile something I expected to be past its prime… drinking really nicely. Like others have said I think the Ubberroth, Hayne, 101 and some of the Howell Mtn stuff can go a long time. Certainly the PS can go forever.

That being said I understand that a lot of people may not like the way these age and want a Zin to taste like a Zin which is perfectly fine. That is one of the nice things about Turley is they are drinkable young and old IMO.


I used to buy quite a bit of Turley but have stopped some time ago as I just couldn’t handle dealing with their odd bottle shape when it came to trying to store them. Stupid reason, probably, but it’s the truth.

As for aging their Zins…I’ve never been a big fan of older Turley Zins. IMO they get hot and the alcohol protrudes too much for me as that fruit starts fading. I was far more a fan of them when young.