2020 Sandlands Vineyards, Cinsault, Lodi, California.
The beautifully ruby hued 2020 Sandlands Vineyards Cinsault, from the historic Bechthold Vineyard in Lodi, is beautifully medium bodied and almost Pinot like in silky texture and charm, but with Cinsault’s varietal character, showing a spicy cinnamon and dried herb edged palate of tangy red raspberry, cherry and Summer plum fruits and light tannins, a stony element and subtle dark florals. Like the 2019, this wine has exceptional mouth feel, ripely flavored, but with low alcohol (12%) and is supple, but with some nice zesty notes and good depth, it goes great with simple meals and should be served with a slight chill. Cinsault is found throughout the Rhone, Languedoc and Provence, where it is mostly a minor player in Reds and Rosé, though its influence in the wines should not be overlooked and most are significantly better with the addition of this grape, as it retains good acidity, has modest sugars and provides life to the resulting wines. When done solo, most people think of it as the south of France’s (or here in warm California) great alternative to Cru Beaujolais, it is seriously tasty stuff and easily quaffable, especially done in the whole cluster style, like this Sandlands. In the Sandlands fabulous collection of hand crafted and authentic wines, which are mainly made with whole bunches, native yeasts and neutral oak, I always love this one, along with their Carignane, another long time California, but lesser known, Chateauneuf, grape that makes a slightly darker and richer wine in the vein of old vine Zin.
The 135 plus year old 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 legendary vines here are gnarly, head-trained and planted on their own roots, it is all organic and dry-farmed, and set in deep, sandy soils, it makes for a distinctly California wine, as Tegan’s shows, that is terroir driven and always delicious. Over the last ten years Passalacqua, along with a few others of his generation, have become the keepers of the faith of California wine history and are very influenced by old school wines rather than modern trends. The Sandlands version is one of the best examples of California Cinsault, along with the Turley Bechthold, that Tegan oversees as well, it provides joyous purity and drinking pleasure, that makes it so compelling for fans of this grape. As mentioned many times here at Grapelive.com, Sandlands Vineyards, the personal project of Tegan Passalacqua, who is the head winemaker and vineyard manager at the famed Turley Cellars, and his Olivia, is an exciting small lot winery and 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 (Mourvedre), Chenin Blanc, Grenache and Zinfandel field blends from old vine vineyards, mostly planted on California’s sandy decomposed granite soils. I highly recommend getting on their mailing list and never miss the chance to try these soulful and raw transparent wines, especially this Cinsault, the mentioned Carignane, along with an upcoming Nebbiolo and the Soberanes Syrah!
($28 ESt.) 93 Points, grapelive