Like so many other people in the DC area, we have a dog. A big, goofy yellow lab. He was a rescue dog that became part of our family during Hurricane Isabel in the fall of 2003. And like the wind he blew in on, he was a wild and destructive force in our home.
But patience, love and a plethora of dog treats soon tamed the wild beast, which is a good thing, because I am fairly sure that my wife was ready to trade in either the dog or me. In an effort to appease her, my three boys came up with the brilliant idea of re-naming the dog after her favorite wine. So Turley was born – and from the moment we changed his name, he felt like part of the family.
Turley Wine Cellars, located in Templeton, California, is one of a handfull of producers that put zinfandel on the wine map. Their forward-style approach to winemaking not only set their zinfandel wines apart from the ho-hum, mass-produced plunk that dominated the majority of the market, but they actually set a new benchmark for what quality zinfandel should aspire to.
Unfortunately, for a decade or so, demand was so high and production was so limited that most of their wines were tightly allocated to members of their mailing lists and occasionally a few west coast restaurants. But today, Turley now makes zinfandel – and petite sirah – from at least twenty different vineyards scattered throughout central and northern California, so the wines are more readily available through wine shops and specialty grocery stores.
Here are my favorite “hair of the dog” zinfandels that are available in the DC metropolitan area. But be forewarned – many of these wines have very high alcohol levels – hovering somewhere between 14.5% – 16%