Turiya: The Gold Standard

By Dennis Schaefer

Santa Barbara News Press - Dec. 14, 2017

Vintner Angela Soleno already had a passion for wine, but a project manager job at Consilience Wines in 2002 fueled her desire. And while that was good on-the-job training, she made it more formal by taking viticulture and enology courses at Allan Hancock College. By 2008, she had established her own label, Turiya, making wines at the Central Coast Wine Services co-op in Santa Maria, a hotbed of new and established winemakers who were happy to share wine production info and other tips. 

Ms. Soleno is probably one of the smallest commercial producers in the county: Every bottling is fewer than 100 cases (that's maybe three or four barrels of each wine). That makes her endeavor a hands-on, small-batch, ultra-premium, boutique winery. She specializes in red Bordeaux-style blends but also likes to throw sangiovese in the mix, so that would qualify as an Italian super-Tuscan style (blends of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and sangiovese). But classifications like that seem irrelevant; she just wants to make the best wine she can from the vineyards she sources from in Santa Barbara County and Paso Robles. She generally ages the wines for 44 months, 25 percent in new French oak barrels, and then for another 12 months in the bottle before releasing them.

The packaging is stunningly beautiful: These high-end bottles are screen-printed in 24-karat gold, hand-bottled, hand-waxed and then signed by the winemaker. If you are looking for an impressive holiday gift for family and friends, these bottlings are striking and dramatic. Tastings are also available at the winery, 321 N. D St., Lompoc (478-7016), which is generally open to the public on Friday and Saturday ($15 tasting fee). 

• Turiya Inner Peace, Central Coast 2012 ($85): Equal parts merlot, petit verdot and sangiovese (one barrel each), this blend shows aromatics of plum, fig, fruitcake and sandalwood; it's very inviting and intriguing, a nose like no other. Flavor wise, it's all about dark macerated plum, black currant, dark berry, candied violets, saddle leather and sandalwood, Deep dark and extracted, it has sweet, ripe fruit flavors coupled with a seductive savoriness. Smooth and creamy on the back end with a silky finish. 

• Turiya Kindred Spirit, Central Coast 2012 ($85): Twice as much cabernet franc as merlot and sangiovese in this blend, it show dark cherry, plum, vanilla and sandalwood on the nose plus distinct notes of freshly baked cherry pie. On the palate, cola, dark berry fruit, black currant and olive tapenade with baking spices and hints of minerality and freshly turned earth. Moderate to full-bodied but with focused flavors, it begs for something meaty like tri-tip, grilled portobello mushrooms or smoky pork ribs. Rather tight right now, it needs several hours of decanting or some slumber time in your cellar. 

• Turiya Dark and Dreamy, Central Coast 2012 ($65): This bottling is the whole shebang — equal parts of all the varieties: sangiovese, petit verdot, cabernet franc and merlot. Red and black fruit come across on the nose along with wood spice, tobacco leaf and melted milk chocolate. Aptly named, it is indeed dark (plenty of dark fruit on the palate) and dreamy; a mysterious blend that you might not expect. It's big and boisterous but never heavy in the mouth. Flavors include dark macerated cherry, chocolate-covered cherries (yes!), tobacco and saddle leather. Rich on mid-palate and extended on the finish with plenty of flavor oomph that just goes on and on. 

• Turiya Petit Verdot, Paso Robles, Solana Vineyard 2011 ($85): Deep and darkly extracted, this one shows aromatics of dark plum, aged leather, lead pencil and an array of brown baking spices. Not as big in the mouth as you might imagine, given it's 100 percent petit verdot. It's the outlier and wild card of this group in that you rarely see this Bordeaux blending variety bottled separately. But the production methodology and the lengthy aging time provide exceptional balance. Dark plum, black cherry, root beer and aged hanging beef meet up with spiciness of clove, allspice and star anise to make a seamless wine from beginning to end. 


Wine expert Dennis Schaefer's column appears every other week in the Food section. Email him at food@newspress.com.