2018 Sandlands, Red Table Wine, Contra Costa County.
The new 2018 Sandlands Red Table Wine sourced from old vines in Contra Costa County, only 11 barrels produced, is a joyous California wine made from an inky dark combination of Carignan and Mataro (Mourvedre), making for brightly fresh and juicy wine that can really enjoyed now, while still structured to age. This Contra Costa red is an expressive proudly Californian wine that shows off its warm flavors, much like France’s Corbieres region, which is known for Carignan, based wines do. The vineyard was planted in the 1920s in what is classified as Dehli blow sand, which winemaker Tegan Passalacqua explains is decomposed granite that has been deposited by wind and water from, what I gather was the high Sierra Mountains over millions of years. This vintage ended up being close to 55% Carignane and 45% Mataro with the long cool growing season resulting in great flavor development, complexity, zippy acidity and wonderfully low natural alcohol coming in at a mere 12.8%. This vintage starts with vivid crushed red berries, rosemary/sage, a hint of lilacs and a lovely fleshy mouth feel before full coming to life on the medium to full bodied palate with black Raspberry, cherry and plum fruits, a touch of candied orange rind, peppery spices and the Mourvedre’s classic earthy/savory influence and tannin playing a key structural role and adding a serious turn to this grape fresh wine. Passalacqua, as noted in my prior reviews, is the head winemaker and vineyard manager at Turley and has worked in the cellars of Craggy Range in New Zealand with Doug Wisor, with Eben Sadie in the Swartland of South Africa, and with Alain and Maxime Graillot in the Northern Rhone Valley of France, which has served him well in creating his niche.

Sandlands is Tegan Passalacqua’s personal label and while known for his work at Turley Wine Cellars, which are bigger, ripe and lavishly styled, these Sandlands wines are maybe a truly reflection of his personality, they are authentic, thoughtful and less flamboyant, but with exceptional quality and crated with intense respect for the vineyards where they come from. Each of the Sandlands wines offers a different perspective and draws its inspiration from historic California vineyards and wines, they mostly come from sandy sites, hence the name, and this one perfectly captures its sense of place and sets the tone for the gripping offerings, which includes a 100% old vine Mataro, a wine with Bandol like power and cellar potential, I have been holding a few vintages of this not hating to open them up too early, and Tegan’s Soberanes Syrah from the Santa Lucia Highlands, with grapes farmed by the Pisoni family, a wine that made me join the Sandlands mailing list, it is a California wine through and through but with Cote-Rotie class and depth. For me, the Sandlands wines show fantastic textures that coat the palate with vinous pleasure, while not heavy, these are impressive artisan hand crafted wines. Passalacqua manages a vast array of classic Zinfandel sites for Turley as well as tending his own old vines at the Kirschenmann Vineyard, which planted back in 1915, on the East Side of Lodi’s Mokelumne River AVA, with his Zinfandel grapes going into both his own wine and into a single vineyard Turley as well. The winemaking is along the lines of minimal intervention, allowing native yeasts when the conditions are suitable and the aging is done mostly in used barrels to give the wines more of the stage to show off their terroir(s) and purity of flavors.
($35 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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