Mission and Pais Re-evaluated, part 2

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In the second half of her two-part analysis of this recovered grape variety, Elaine looks at some current examples of wines now being made in California and Chile. See also part 1.

Tegan Passalacqua, pictured below, is one of the founders of the Historic Vineyard Society, and is arguably one of the most quietly influential winemakers in California. He serves as both vineyard manager and winemaker for Turley Wine Cellars while also making his own small production Sandlands wines. But his work for Turley involves driving throughout the northern half of California, not only tracking the Turley vineyards but also getting to know old-vines sites and the families that own them across the state. He has regularly played matchmaker between old family vineyards and winemakers looking for unique, affordable options. His scouting ability has, importantly, helped grow the Turley Zinfandel portfolio and has also helped him find unique sites for his own Sandlands label. [For the story of someone who plays a slightly similar role in South Africa, see Jancis’s article on Rosa Kruger – JH]

In 2017, Sandlands released a mere 50 cases of Mission from the oldest vineyard in North America (pictured with part 1), planted in 1854 in the Shenandoah Valley in the Sierra Foothills. It took Passalacqua several years to convince the site’s owner Ken Deaver (pictured top right) to sell him grapes. The Sandlands 2017 Mission is my favourite California example of this varietal, exemplifying a perfect balance between allowing the variety’s rusticity while delivering a clean wine with interest. It’s juicy and bright with notes of rose tea and just a bit of that tactile tannin. A perfect charcuterie wine at 12.9%.

Passalacqua also delivered an equal amount of fruit (the equivalent of 50 cases of wine) from the same Mission vineyard to the new …. 

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