Turley Ueberroth Vineyard Zinfandel 2013

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Ueberroth is the greatest Zinfandel vineyard in the world. That makes Turley’s bottling, in my view, the best expression of Zinfandel on the planet.

The vines were planted in 1885, over 130 years ago. The vineyard is located close to the ocean in Paso Robles. The soils are high Ph limestone, which gives the wines the high acidity needed to balance the intensity of fruit and alcohol. The aspect is steep, ensuring even ripening. These factors come together to produce wine of utmost character and expression. This bottling has only become better since Tegan Passalacqua took over as head winemaker and vineyard manager at the winery in 2013 and the intensity of its aromatic expression is now second to none.

The Ueberroth Vineyard

The Ueberroth Vineyard

Passalacqua is a historicist and the third generation of a Napa family. His mission is to preserve historic vineyards. He also believes in old-time farming methods, particularly head pruning, organic viticulture, dry farming, interplantation and field blends.

Turley has as many detractors as it does fans, mostly due to its extremely high alcohol wines and what many perceived in the past to be a sweetness and heaviness that made the wines unsustainable for repeat drinking.

That vision of Turley is now out of date. The wines now are juicy, vibrant, expressive and light on their feet. The alcohol remains high because of the nature of the Zinfandel grape, but there is a much lighter touch now, with wines being made in a style that seems inspired by the vibrancy and texture of the world’s greatest fruit driven wines such as top Beaujolais Cru or the wines of Domaine Gauby. Much of this derives from the early picking dates that Passalacqua prefers and that was influenced by his time spent with Eben Sadie in South Africa, who is one of the world’s experts working with Mediterranean grapes in hot climates to produce elegant, balanced wines.

The 2013 Ueberroth bottling is an ideal example of Passalacqua’s intention, even at its 15.8% ABV. Zin does not get better.

$100 (tax included) at Marquis Wine Cellars


  1. Brad
    April 20, 2016

    Hey Shea,
    This sounds pretty interesting. I sent Marquis an email inquiring about it though, as I didn’t see it on their website, and they don’t have any. Sounds like it would be a special order only. When did you pick up yours? Also, how do you feel it compares to the 2012 Fredrick’s Vineyard Turley that I bought (but haven’t tried yet) last year? Just curious if you think this will be a step up from that?

  2. Shea Coulson
    April 20, 2016

    For my palate I prefer the Ueberroth, but the Fredricks has a good reputation. That said, since yours is 2012 I imagine it’s not fully transitioned to the new style of Mr. Passalacqua.

    I pre-ordered mine.

  3. Curtis Lauber
    May 3, 2016

    Nonsense. The claim that Ueberroth produces better final products than Hayne, for instance, or a number of others, is unsubstantiatable.

  4. Shea
    May 3, 2016

    I guess that depends on the terms of evaluation. My value judgment is based on my experience and using the criteria of ‘balance’, ‘drinkability’, ‘complexity’ among others. With separate terms of evaluation or separate evaluators this of course can change. It is not a precise science!

  1. The Week in Zinfandel (4/25/16) | Zinfandel Chronicles - […] Just Grapes reviews the 2013 Turley Zinfandel Ueberroth Vineyard. […]

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