2020 Desire Lines Evangelho Red Wine, Contra Costa County.
This newer label, Desire Lines in Sonoma, with a stellar collection of small lot hand crafted offerings is fast becoming a favorite of mine and Cody Rasmussen, winemaker, is certainly one of his generations best, with wines like this proving the point. The latest Evangelho Red Wine, a blend of primarily Carignan with a touch of Mourvèdre, has become, as Rasmussen notes, one of his most important wines. This 2020 is deeply colored and flavored with an upfront personality, showing rich layers of crushed blackberries, plums, Italian cherries and currants on the full bodied palate along with a round lush texture, all accented by florals, spices and a subtle wood shading. This purple/garnet wine comes from very old vines in Contra Costa. Rasmussen says the heritage and historic Evangelho Vineyard is one of California’s greatest vineyards, and after many years of tasting wines from here, like this one, I’d have to agree. Cody Rasmussen, who is the assistant winemaker at Morgan Twain-Peterson MW’s Bedrock Wine Company, along with his wife Emily have carved out a niche for themselves with these Desire Lines wines, their Syrah is their signature grape with the Griffin’s Lair and Shake Ridge bottlings being some of the state’s best examples. Besides the stellar Syrahs, Rasmussen has made himself one of the best talents in dry Riesling in the country, especially his exceptional Cole Ranch, which I recently reviewed here. With this latest set of releases, Desire Lines have added some new things to the lineup, including a Viognier and a Sauvignon Blanc, both of which I am excited to try soon.

The 2020 Evangelho Red Wine is as Cody notes, a touch silkier on the palate, with youthful exuberance that highlights both the vintage and the vineyard in a typical year, making a very lovable wine with refined tannins that still provide for solid aging potential, while allow full pleasure even now. As in previous vintages, Rasmussen fermented with 30% whole cluster under a submerged cap and aged the Evangelho Red for ten months in neutral 400L barrels. As he has said before, Cody loves the bigger 400L barrel size for Carignan, as it retains freshness and builds tension in the wine like all large format casks, but with a less reductive tendency than the 500L and 600L barrels that I prefer for Syrah and Mourvèdre. As I reported last time trying this wine, Rasmussen believes the Carignan gives the wine a singular juiciness and floral and red-fruit aromas, with a soft tannin profile and vibrant acidity. Going on he adds that the inclusion of cluster (partial stems) adds spice to the nose, while the small portion of carbonic maceration and Mourvèdre add flesh to the palate. Desire Lines, for this wine, models their winemaking after the great cru Beaujolais, like Dutraive and or Chateau Thivin, crafting wines that are delightful when young but should mature beautifully in the bottle as well. These old vines, at Evangelho, were planted on their own-roots back in the 1890s in the Oakley Sands, giving this wine a sense of place and a wealth of complexity and depth. These deep say soils form this site into one of California’s most distinctive terroirs with the delta breezes giving the wines freshness, elegance and fine aromatic character, elements which are clearly on display here, and I highly recommend this incredibly delicious wine.
($32 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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