2019 Sandlands Vineyards, Nebbiolo, Sonoma County.
Tegan Passalacqua’s Sonoma County Nebbiolo is quite astonishing for its true varietal character and it could be easily mistaken for Langhe Nebbiolo and or a real Barolo, though it charms for its subtle personality and confidence in the glass with a raw presence and no pretense, showing a quietly powerful structure with dry tannins and a classic array of earthy flavors. The 2019 vintage perfectly captured the grape’s best features with full ripeness, but with bright acidity and savory notes providing a sublime balance and tension with this garnet and brick red edged Nebbiolo showing brandied cherry, damson plum, balsamic strawberry and dark berry fruits, along with hints of minty herbs, anise, leather, chalky stones and cedar notes that accent this impressive effort. This Piedmonte inspired wine, which I believe is Sandlands debut release of Nebbiolo, is absolutely stunning stuff, and as a huge lovers of the old world versions, this Sonoma County Nebbiolo far exceeded my expectations, and as it opened up it continued to intrigue gaining depth, mineral tones and pretty floral aromatics. This will be a tough get, unless you are on the Sandlands list, but I highly recommend searching it out.

Sandlands Vineyards, as noted here, is 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. Over the last ten years, Tegan Passalacqua, along with a few others of his generation, have become the keepers of the faith of California wine history, and he is very influenced by old school wines rather than modern trends, with his wines being made using native yeasts and raised in mostly used oak to promote purity and transparency. The Nebbiolo, which is best enjoyed with hearty cuisine, was traditionally made with carefully sorted sustainable de-stemmed grapes and saw an extended aging regime, with I believe, close to 24 months in cask before bottling. This wine now joins Sandlands’ Cinsault, Syrah, Carignane and Mataro as my favorites in Passalacqua’s lineup of small lot and authentic offerings!
($38 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

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