Beautifully Pure Lodi Zinfandel

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.

It seems Sandlands is becoming somewhat of a staple for me, as I previously reviewed the 2018 Lodi Red Table Wine and 2018 Santa Lucia Highlands Syrah. I also plan to review the 2017 Chenin Blanc soon.

Today’s Wine: 2018 Lodi Zinfandel

100% Zinfandel; 14.4% ABV

The 2018 Lodi Zinfandel is medium ruby in color. This was a late-night Coravin pour, so I simply let it open up in the glass. The aromas are of pronounced intensity, and the nose showcases aromas of blueberry, blackberry compote, plum, muddled strawberry, sweet tobacco, and cinnamon. Meanwhile the flavors are also of pronounced intensity, with the palate displaying notes of blackberry, black cherry, blueberry, black raspberry, sweet tobacco, mild green herbs, and a touch of baking spice. This dry red is medium-bodied with medium acidity, medium tannins, high alcohol, and a medium (+) finish. There is remarkable balance in this wine for how young it is, and in my opinion this is one of the best expressions of Zinfandel that I’ve tasted.

Price: $50 (I paid $40). I think this offers very solid value, particularly for how pure and true to variety and terroir it is. I don’t drink a ton of Zinfandel, but when I do wines like this are exactly what I’m looking for.

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