Beautifully Pure Amador County Chenin Blanc

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.

I’ve been in love with Sandlands’ wines that I’ve tried, and I previously reviewed the 2018 Lodi Zinfandel, 2018 Lodi Red Table Wine, and 2018 Santa Lucia Highlands Syrah.

Today’s Wine: 2017 Amador County Chenin Blanc

100% Chenin Blanc; 12.2% ABV

The 2017 Amador County Chenin Blanc is pale gold in color and transparent. The aromas are of medium intensity, with the nose showcasing notes of lemon curd, crisp yellow apple, quince, honeysuckle, honeycomb, wet stone, and saline. The flavors are also of medium intensity, and the palate displays notes of lemon zest, underripe pear, yellow apple, chamomile, honey, crushed rock minerality, and oyster shell. This dry white is light- to medium-bodied with high acidity, medium alcohol, and a long finish. This took some time to come alive in the glass, but once it did the wine did not last long. Very tasty.

Price: $50. I know this is significantly cheaper direct from the winery, though retail pricing in the secondary market seems to be around $50. If you can buy this on the mailing list, don’t hesitate because it is a gorgeous wine that’s both beautifully balanced and fairly complex. As far as price I paid, I have no qualms.

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