2019 Sandlands Vineyards, Cinsault, Lodi, California.
The latest 2019 Cinsault from Tegan Passalacqua is wonderfully textural and fresh with lovely aromatics, it shows fine detail and layers of smooth red fruits and drinks as silken as a Pinot Noir, this is impressive stuff. This Cinsault, one of the Chateauneuf du Pape grapes and a minor player in the Bandol Rosé and Reds, shines on the medium bodied palate with bright spiced raspberry, cherry, plum, pomegranate and tangy/freshy red peach fruits along with a touch of whole bunches/carbonic like creamy roundness along with dried herbs, peony floral notes, a light bit of sandalwood and a faint earthy stony savoriness. The Bechthold Vineyard, as Tegan Passalacqua notes, was originally planted back in 1886, this Cinsault vineyard is the oldest of its kind in the country—perhaps even beyond. The vines are gnarly, head-trained and planted on their own roots dry-farmed in deep, sandy soils., making for a distinct California wine that is terroir driven and always delicious. This 2019 Cinsault is a beautiful ruby color and easy to quaff, it is a lighter style red wine that drinks drinks with more presence in the glass than expected, especially for a wine with a mere 12.3% alcohol, providing lots of smiles, and while super now, it should be even more compelling in 3 to 5 years too.

Sandlands Vineyards, the personal project of Tegan, who is the head winemaker and vineyard manager at the famed Turley Cellars, and his Olivia is a must follow label, especially for those that want to taste California wine history. Their line-up of wines, as they note, includes some the forgotten classic California varieties, like this Cinsault, but also includes the Mission grape, Carignane, Mataro, Chenin Blanc, Grenache and Zinfandel field blends from old vine vineyards. These wines come primarily from vines grown in decomposed granitic sand soils from regions and vineyards that have been family farmed for many generations, as the Passalacqua’s add, but have remained the outliers of California viticulture. These, in some cases are historic, sustainable or organic, and are primarily head-trained, dry-farmed and own rooted. The vineyards, like the Bechthold Vineyard, used in this wine, they work with, which take you back to California’s roots of exploration, wonder, and hard work, all of which shows through in the Sandlands lineup. This Cinsault, which is at its best when served slightly chilled, was made in old school tradition with whole cluster and native yeast fermentation with gentle hand crafted care and was raised in well seasoned used French oak barrels. There’s a lot to love and admire here in the fairly priced Sandlands small lot collection and I highly recommend getting on the list, especially as Tegan is about to release some new stuff soon!
($28 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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