Old Vine Magic

Today’s Story: Sandlands Vineyards

Sandlands Vineyards is a small family-owned and operated passion project of Tegan and Olivia Passalacqua established in 2010. Tegan, a winemaker with a proven track record of crafting fantastic old vine Zinfandel at Turley Wine Cellars, branched out into this side project with a focus on ancient and “forgotten” varieties. In the far reaches of California winegrowing in Lodi, Contra Costa County, Santa Lucia Highlands, Amador County, and the more familiar Sonoma Coast, Tegan sources Chenin Blanc, Cinsault, Trousseau, Carignane, Mataro, Syrah, Zinfandel, and other varieties from vines that are at times more than 100 years old. Though these varieties and the vineyards he sources from have been farmed for decades and generations, they oftentimes lay outside of the “norm” for California viticulture and are even mostly planted in decomposed granite (i.e. sand). What’s more, the vineyards Tegan works with are typically head-trained, dry-farmed, and own rooted. Tegan crafts these wines in a traditional and minimally invasive manner, allowing the unique terroir and vine to shine through in each bottling which results in lower alcohol, easy drinking, but complex wines. Production is miniscule and quantities are quoted by the barrel, so these can be hard to find and the mailing list is the easiest way. At the very least, I suggest checking out the Sandlands website here for incredible pictures of their source vineyards.

Today’s Wine: 2018 Lodi Red Table Wine

33.3% Cinsault, 33.3% Carignane, 33.3% Zinfandel; 13.3% ABV

The 2018 Lodi Red Table Wine is pale to medium purple in color. I know this is young but I couldn’t resist trying my first bottle, so I let this open up for a couple hours and sampled it along the way to see it evolve. The nose is somewhat delicate with medium intensity and aromas of tart red cherry, red plum, cranberry, black raspberry, blackberry, violets, licorice, smoke, wet gravel, and stony mineral. Meanwhile the palate is also of medium intensity while showcasing notes of redcurrant, red cherry, ripe strawberry, wild raspberry, blueberry, black tea, sweet tobacco, smoked game, a hint of coffee grounds, and baking spice. This dry red blend is light- to medium-bodied with medium acidity, medium tannins, medium alcohol, and a long, captivating finish. This is very, very good already showcasing great balance and I am excited to see it evolve further in the bottle.

The Cinsault comes from the Bechthold Vineyard planted in 1886, the Carignane from the Spenker Ranch planted in 1900, and the Zinfandel from the estate-owned Kirschenmann Vineyard planted in 1915.

Price: $40. This is right in the absolutely worth its price to very solid value camp. I imagine these are slightly less expensive on the mailing list, but I will hands-down buy this again retail in the time being. The balance, complexity, and quality at such a young age are truly impressive and this is well worth a try.

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