2019 Desire Lines Wine Co., Carignan/Mourvedre, Red Wine, Evangelho Vineyard, Contra County.
This beautifully dark purple/garnet Evangelho Vineyard Contra Costa Red Wine by Cody Rasmussen at Desire Lines Wine Co. has fast become one of my must have wines, with this 2019, which is a new release I just got this week, being a thrilling young wine and made to be enjoyed young with its deep, but supple rich fruit and satiny tannins. The 2019 version is fresh and lively with some nice savory and crunchy elements from the whole bunches and partial stem inclusion giving complexity and balance to this fruit forward, densely packed red wine. Rasmussen intended this wine to be his own unique version of a California wine that would remind people of a Cru Beaujolais, like those of either Fleurie or Morgon, but I look towards Corbieres for the old world similarity’s rustic area in the Languedoc where Carignan is a major player in the red blends, especially the wines of Maxime Magnon and in particular his gorgeous and natural Corbières Rouge “Campagnès” that comes from 100 year old Carignan, as does this one. Cody, who along with his wife Emily started this label in 2016 and have made it one of the best new wineries with some stellar releases, he has an amazing touch with these wines and California wine enthusiasts really should get on his list. He has great experience already under his belt, having been the assistant winemaker at Bedrock Wine Co and being mentored by Morgan Twain-Peterson, who is one of America’s great winegrowers and a Master of Wine, a rare achievement in the wine world. This vintage starts with seductive floral aromas and snappy herbs, spice and cool blue fruits that lead to a smooth and full bodied palate of black raspberry, juicy plum, pomegranate and morello cherry fruits along with a touch of pepper, baked earth, a cedary wood note and sprigs of anise, sage and lavender. The new Evangelho has a delightful energy and like Zinfandel field blends has loads of pleasing character and textural quality without feeling cloying or heavy at all, making it exceptional with easy or simple cuisine.

The vines at Evangelho Vineyard, now owned by Morgan Twain-Peterson, one of California’s great wine minds, and Chris Cottrell of Bedrock Wine Co., – now over 120 years old – were planted by Manuel Viera in the 1890s on land purchased from John Marsh’s Los Meganos Rancho, though farmed by Frank Evangehlo and family for most of its history. Evangelho Vineyard is located in Antioch, as noted by Rasmussen, just a mile upstream from the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and only a few hundred yards south of the water’s edge. These old vines, Cody explains, are planted on what could be considered coastal dunes comprised of weathered granitic sand blown and washed out of the Sierra Nevada over millennia. This is one of the most unique terroirs in California with its ultra depleted, well draining heavy Oakley sand, this soil type is termed Delhi sand and it has protected and comfortingly wrapped these wines to perfection, making for some spectacular wines, like this one and the Heritage Red from his boss at Bedrock. The 2019 Desire Lines Evangelho Red Wine was made from a blend of roughly 90% Carignan and 10% Mourvèdre, that like the 2017 and 2018 vintages, was fermented, with some carbonic maceration, with close to 30% whole cluster under a submerged cap and aged for ten months in neutral 400L barrels. Rasmussen loves the 400L barrel size for his Carignan, saying it retains freshness and builds tension like all large format barrels, but with a less reductive tendency than the 500L and 600L barrels that he prefers for the Syrah and Mourvèdre grapes. I am thrilled with this Evangelho and really looking forward to exploring the rest of Rasmussen’s new wines, including his outstanding Syrah bottlings from Griffin’s Lair and Shake Ridge Vineyard, a very famous Amador County site as well as his 100% Mourvedre from this same Evangelho Vineyard, plus his killer dry Riesling from Cole Ranch, which is chilling in my fridge right now. While tasty and rewarding now, this 2019 Desire Lines Evangelho Red Wine looks set or has the potential to age well, its underlying structure is quite impressive, which will reward those that have more patience than me, drink this Carignan based wine over the next 3 to 5 years.
($32 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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