Mixed Bag: Sandlands Mission & Vogue C-M

2017 Sandlands Mission Amador County
I have a love-not-so-love relationship with Sandlands. I appreciate the ethos and style behind the wines. I support the effort to make low-alcohol wines from grapes sourced from heritage sites in CA. Carignane, Trousseau, Mataro … I’m smitten. The Chenin and Syrah not so much. So I was curious to try the Mission, from vines planted in 1854(!) in Amador County. I really wanted to like this wine. But for me it’s a bit of an “emperor’s new clothes” bottling. The pedigree is all there, but it just didn’t deliver. It just has this sweet Dubble Bubble sheen without much structure. A bit of rhubarb/pesticide without any tannins or grip. It’s dry and short on the finish too. Nothing flawed with the wine. Just not my cuppa. My first Mission … maybe my last? Especially at $45.


2008 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Chambolle-Musigny
I was surprised on the downside with the Sandlands, but was surprised on the upside with the Vogue. These are famous for being on the dark side for Chambolle (wags call them the best Syrah made in the village). The knock is that they are heavy, concentrated wines that need a lot of time to come around. And then there was the 08 vintage fear – more acid wash than George Michael’s Wham-era jeans! But this bottle confounded expectations – it was light and cranberry-colored for a Vogue wine, and had plenty of lift/perfume/openness. There were tingling acids but they were more than buffered by strawberry and soil notes. There’s a surprising lithe and balanced quality to this wine right now. It’s brightness surprised me.

Don’t give up on Mission! It’s a great little variety! Here’s what I’ll do - PM me your address and I’ll drop one of mine off tomorrow free of charge. I’m doing deliveries to the westside anyway, so it’s not even out of my way. [cheers.gif]

Dude, what a generous offer. You are a true Pied Piper. PM on its way. I will keep an open mind!

The Vogue sounds excellent Matthew.

Drank the latest Mission during the vinous live sesh with Tegan - his description and historical context of the mission grape captured my attention and likely gave extra meaning to drinking that particular bottle.

Before I summarize what he said I’ll agree that the wine is relatively simple and clipped on the finish. It’s still quite enjoyable and extremely well made. I prefer some of the other varietals Tegan makes but I’ll continue to pick up at least one mission per year to ponder and enjoy.

From what I recall, Tegan mentioned the mission grape being so profound in early Cali wine history due to its resilient qualities during the winemaking process, specifically its ability to be harvested and transported over longer periods of time. Without modern equipment, harvests would take multiple weeks and very few grapes could be transported at once. The mission excelled at remaining stable during these prolonged stages while creating a decent/good wine…and that was about all that mattered.

I like the story of the Mission better than the wine. There is absolutely no structure to it. But I like to keep these historic vineyards around. IMO, outside of the Canaries, mission is a ho-hum grape.

Just a point to add, the Mission was $25 on release to list members. Matthew may have purchased at retail or elsewhere, of course.

I’d say it’s more a challenging grape. There are good ones from ancient vines in Chile, too. For the most part, people are just starting to figure it out. To be sure Angelica, which takes a decade or so barrel aging to do it right, is the best use, and where it outperfoms any other grape. As a dry red you’d pretty much fail trying to make it like another grape, just as Pinot made like Cab or Sangio made like Cab or Pinot fail. We looked to what the best producers (Canaries, Chile) were doing and included those techniques among our batches. What worked was exactly what some of them were doing, which was a blend of 100% carbonic and 100% whole cluster. (Of the rest, most got distilled, a bit was good enough for a vermouth experiment.) It was a vibrant, fresh and individual young drinker. An excellent by-the-glass and hipster wine. One of our “we can sell as much as you can make” wines. But, not something that should be anywhere near $45. More like $18-25.



Yes, fair point! I bought it as a one-off at hipster wine store. I’m not on list.

Hey Matthew, appreciate your honest assessment on the Mission. Would you care to elaborate more on what you didn’t like about the Syrah? I’ve never had it so coming in with no pretext, but would love your general thoughts.

Patrick: The Syrah, from Santa Lucia Highlands, is a nice wine. In contrast to the oozy wines from Roar and Pisoni that I remember back in the day the Sandlands is much less extracted and ripe. But I found it a bit simple and lacking in gravitas. I wanted more pepper and savory notes. A bit fruity/magenta.

Maybe that’s not fair because I was drinking a 17 early or that’s not what the site can offer … but that’s where my taste lies now. I like the Rhys Syrahs as a point of comparison.

I had the 2012 Sandlands syrah a few weeks back and posted on it. Very good wine, and channeled a good Saint Joseph. More time or vintage?