2019 Sandlands Vineyards, Carignane, Lodi, California.
The Lodi version of 100% Carignane from Tegan Passalacqua, winemaker at Sandlands Vineyards is a dark purply, but freshly styled wine with a profile that is not unlike a Zinfandel meets Cotes du Rhone that shows off a very quaffable personality and juicy ripe black fruits, spice, delicate earthiness and mineral tones. As I’ve said in my prior reviews, Carignane (or Carignan) is the main grape in the Corbieres region in France’s Languedoc, where you can find it in hearty reds and as a component in Rosé as well, it has a long history here in California, where it has long been part of field blends, usually picked and co-fermented with mixed blacks and as a part of heritage Zin blends. This medium bodied 2019 Lodi Carignane delivers supple tannins and is fully mature already with smooth layering of blackberry, currant, tangy plum, cranberry and cherry fruit, as well as hints of dark florals, cola bean, cedar, anise, sage and light savory elements, making for an easy wine to enjoy, especially with the low natural alcohol here, coming in at 12.9% and with its bright acidity. I have a few bottles of this value packed Carignane still, which I plan to enjoy in the near term as it is drinking beautifully right now and its heading into some secondary maturity with touches of tertiary notes emerging with time in the glass. Both this one and the Contra Costa version, which was a bit more flamboyant and maybe a bit more concentrated, comes from old vines, that are head-trained, dry-farmed and own rooted. I enjoyed this Lodi Carignane with a fresh basil topped pizza, but it will go with almost any dish you throw at it, and especially hard cheeses, wild mushrooms, pulled pork and or grilled meats.
Again as noted here in my reviews, and from the winery, Sandlands is the personal project of Turley Cellars head winemaker and vineyard manager Tegan and his wife Olivia Passalacqua. The line-up of Sandlands, as the Passalaqua’s add, encompasses many the forgotten classic California varieties, like this Carignane, plus Cinsault, Chenin Blanc, which is making a huge comeback and the extremely rare Mission grape, that are primarily grown on California’s decomposed granite (sand), from regions and vineyards that have been farmed for many generations, but have somehow, as Tegan puts it, remained the outliers of California viticulture. These vines are primarily old gnarly head-trained, dry-farmed and own rooted, with the vineyards Sandlands work with being sites that take us back to California’s roots. The wines here highlight the hardworking farmers of yesteryear and the honest and authentic wines of a different era, they pay tribute to the state’s fascinating history of rugged viticulture. Made using classic old school methods with lots of whole bunches, native yeast fermentation(s), with lots of gentle hands and feet being employed and aging or elevage being done in well seasoned (used) oak barrels. I know, these are unicorn wines and incredibly hard to get, but search them out, get on the mailing list and never miss a chance to enjoy them with friends, they are worth it! Carignane is a really compelling grape and I have been really thrilled by what this new generation of winemakers are doing with this grape here in California, especially in the wines of Ridge Vineyards, Broc Cellars, Liocco, Martha Stroumen, Desire Lines Wine Co., and in particularly here at Sandlands, keep an eye out for these tasty versions.
($28 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive