The nose and palate of this wine reverberate the old-vine wisdom garnered among the sandy soils of east Contra Costa County. Attractive aromas of spicy red cherry are enhanced by nuances of dark-roast coffee beans, pencil shavings, grilled game and caramel before segueing to flavors of black plum, crème de cassis and spice that are wrapped in a cedary cloak. Dusty tannins and bright acidity add structure while the smooth texture, rich mouthfeel and juicy finish accentuate the pleasurable experience.
Eastern Contra Costa County has been a reputable wine region since the late 1800s. Cool afternoon breezes blowing through the San Joaquin and Sacramento River delta temper the warm daytime temperatures during the growing season. Soils consist of sandy loams that offer near-perfect drainage. Some blocks of wizened old-vine zinfandel are over 100 years old, but many vineyards have been gradually replanted with Rhone varieties.
Sandy Lane Vineyard overlooks the delta near the town of Oakley and less than 20 miles from downtown Concord. Called “the oldest inter-planted vineyard in California,” it was inter-planted with mourvèdre (aka mataró), zinfandel and carignane in the early part of 20th century on St George rootstock. These ancient head-trained, spur-pruned vines benefit from the cooling effects of the water, and are dry farmed in soils that are as sandy as Waikiki Beach.
Each interplanted variety is hand harvested separately with the grower standing watch and calling out the varietal name of each vine as our crew passes over the rows. This one-of-a-kind planting yields small crops that have a rare degree of color and depth of flavor for mourvèdre.