2018 Sandlands Vineyards, Zinfandel, Lodi, California.
The wonderfully balanced and beautiful Sandlands Lodi Zinfandel comes from owner and winemaker Tegan Passalacqua’s own Kirschenmann vineyard, a historic site that is located on or near the Mokelumne River, this is just outside the town of Victor, set east of Lodi in the Central Valley of California. The soils are from the ancient erosion of the Sierra Nevada mountains that tower up to the east that over the years have deposited deep granitic sand and loams. This historic old vineyard, which is lovingly cared for in organic fashion and with classic old school head training, was originally planted back in 1915, and is all on its own roots, while primarily old Zinfandel, there is also a small mix interplanted Carignane, Cinsault, and Mondeuse Noir scattered within the vineyard. This is a special sand unique place and wine, many who have had the Turley Cellars version would agree, and Tegan’s own, which is humbly label just as a Lodi Zinfandel, is an outstanding California red wine of grace and complexity that is pure pleasure in the glass. The Sandlands 2018 Zinfandel gives classic layers of black raspberry, dusty plum, kirsch and a light spiciness along with dried herbs, subtle dark floral and wood notes, what a joy on the full bodied palate this wine is, it seduces completely with its fabulous textural quality and length. This dark purple/garnet Zin tells a story with each sip, revealing its past and present, its terroir and all the while delivering a top notch performance, what more can you ask of a wine?

Passalacqua, as noted many times here, is one of the state’s great winemakers and vineyard managers with an exceptional touch and an encyclopedic knowledge of vines and California’s rich history of wine. His talents are recognized with his efforts for Turley Wine Cellars, but intriguingly these fantastic Sandlands Vineyards wines remain some of the greatest values in California and somehow fly under the radar, these are incredibly delicious wines that hand crafted and made using a minimalist approach with mainly whole cluster and native yeast fermentations and aged in neutral (used) French oak barrels. This Zinfandel, sourced from these silica rich, white sandy soils, which have helped keep these ingrafted vines from dioceses and phylloxera over the more than one hundred years they have been producing grapes, really is a stunner, it reminds me of favorite Ridge, Bedrock and of course Tegan’s Turley wines. I had this wine in a grouping of outstanding Rhone varietal wines that included multiple vintages of Chateauneuf du Pape from highly regarded producers and this old vine Kirschenmann Zin not only held its own, it regally matched them for quality and complexity, while that might be surprising for some, it certainly wasn’t for me as I have long been a fan of this grape and now this producer. This 2018 is ripe and silky lush, but very well judged, at 14.4% natural alcohol, it is not heavy or jammy, again this is an impeccable bottle of California wine that will long been admired by those lucky enough to have a few bottles!
($32 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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