Cline

Our Roots Run Deep

Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay may seem ubiquitous in Northern California’s wine industry, but it wasn’t always that way. Seeing the old vineyards near his grandfather’s ranch in Oakley, California, Fred Cline learned that wine growers 100 years ago preferred Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Grenache, Mataro (Mourvedre) and Carignan – often planted together in one vineyard as a “field blend.” Because this pattern is found in old vineyards throughout the state, it must have been a conscious choice among winegrowers back then. They must have understood that Zin and the Rhone varieties perform better under California’s dry but variable conditions than the finicky, slow-ripening Cabernet. These vines can thrive without irrigation (a.k.a. “dry-farming”) and the blending of grapes with different qualities would have ensured that the finished wine attained a proper balance of sugar, acid, ripeness and tannin. In order to pursue his interest in Zinfandel, Rhone grape varieties and old vineyards, Fred Cline founded Cline Cellars near Oakley in 1981. The Ancient Vines bottlings are made from grapes grown in these low-yielding, Contra Costa County vineyards. In 1991, Cline moved his winemaking facility to a large ranch in Carneros, the cool, wind-swept district just north of San Pablo Bay between Napa and Sonoma counties. Even though Chardonnay and Pinot Noir dominate the vineyards here, Cline decided to plant Syrah, Viognier, Marsanne and Roussane and has proven that even in a cool climate these varietals can develop intense but elegant fruit and perfume. A more recent acquisition lies near Petaluma, in Sonoma County, and Cline Cellars has now added Pinot Noir to its roster of Zinfandel and Rhone reds and whites. A focus on Zinfandel and Rhone varietal wines has not always been easy, but Cline Cellars has repeatedly earned accolades and critical acclaim. Over the years, many of the Zinfandels and others have earned 90 points and up in the Wine Spectator, and Wine & Spirits has called the Ancient Vines Mourvèdre “one of the top 100 values.” It doesn’t get much better than this: hand-crafted wines from sustainably-farmed vineyards that are intimately connected to California’s winemaking history. The wines of Cline Cellars are deep and rich with elegance, complexity and flavor AND available at reasonable prices.

Wines from this Winery

2017 Cline

2017 Cline "Farmhouse" White

The Farmhouse on the label is located at the Green String Farm in Petaluma (about 15 km from Cline Cellars). What it represents, however, is a philosophy and practice of viticulture that is “beyond sustainable.” No pesticides, herbicides or artificial fertilizers are used; sheep and goats control the weeds, and friendly insects prey upon harmful ones. Sustainable farming not only keeps the vineyards healthy but produces beautiful fruit for these delicious wines. Fred Cline has been farming the Green String way since 2001. In 2017, the blend consists of 41% Palomino, 25% Muscat Canelli, 22% Roussanne, 6% Marsanne, 5% Viognier and 1% Riesling. It’s a crisp, bright wine that delivers great value for the price. Farmhouse White pairs well with appetizers such as ripe tomatoes and mozzarella, salads with extra-virgin olive oil, Asian cuisine and fish dishes.

Details
¥ 2,000
2016 Cline "Farmhouse" Red

2016 Cline "Farmhouse" Red

The “Farmhouse” on the label stands at the Green String Farm in Petaluma, a center dedicated to studying methods of farming that are "beyond sustainable." These same methods guide the viticultural practices at Cline Cellars so that the vineyards will remain bountiful for decades to come. Farmhouse 2016 consists of 39% Merlot, 21% Syrah, 20% Zinfandel, 9% Grenache, 7% Petite Sirah, and 3% Mourvèdre. Oak barrel aging integrates the flavors and other components, producing a wine that’s bright but full-bodied with jammy berry flavors and soft tannins. It's hard to believe such a fine and distinctive wine is available at such a reasonable price! Try this with a steak - beef or tuna would satisfy equally - or a rustic pasta with plenty of mushrooms.

Details
¥ 2,000
2017 Cline Sonoma Coast Pinot Gris

2017 Cline Sonoma Coast Pinot Gris

Like the Pinot Gris of Alsace, Cline’s Pinot Gris delivers freshness and elegance along with pure and fresh stone fruit and citrus flavors. In the Sonoma Coast region, temperatures remain cool for most of the summer as the sun tends to burn off the ocean fog for just a few hours in the afternoons. But vineyards in this climate produce grapes with intense fruit flavors and bright acidity as well as minerality picked up from the diverse clay and rocky soils. For maximum freshness and pure fruit flavors, Cline makes this wine entirely in stainless steel - without oak barrel aging. Pour a glass while making dinner or serve with lighter fare such as quiche or fish with tarragon-butter sauce.

Details
¥ 2,200
2017 Cline North Coast Viognier

2017 Cline North Coast Viognier

Until around 30 years ago, Viognier was little known outside the Northern Rhone Valley. But when people realized how wonderfully Viognier combines a heady perfume of blossoms and peaches with a powerful body, production began to spread across Southern France and over to North America, Australia and New Zealand. A finicky grape to cultivate, it requires a proper balance of cool nights and warm days in order to preserve acidity and create the distinctive texture. The fruit in this offering was sourced from such North Coast AVAs as Carneros and the Sonoma Coast, producing a full-bodied wine with vibrant flavors. The lush mouth-feel, crisp finish, and mouth watering acidity suggest Gruyere or Camembert cheese, sushi, or tarragon chicken. 

Details
¥ 2,200
2017 Cline Rose

2017 Cline Rose "Ancient Vines" Mourvedre

A late-ripening grape that prefers hot, dry climates such as Provence in Southern France, Mourvèdre is known as Monastrell in Spain and (formerly) as Mataro in Australia and California. In Cline’s Oakley Vineyard, Mourvèdre was planted over 100 years ago in well-drained, deep sandy soils and in a climate that’s dry and windy. The head-pruned vines may yield little fruit, but the flavors are bright and intense. Because Mourvèdre's thick skin makes for inky black and tannic wines, it is more often blended (especially with Grenache and/or Syrah) than bottled on its own. Yet, these characteristics make it so easy to make a beautiful rosé; a simple pressing provides plenty of color but no astringency. Served well-chilled, this Rosé Mourvèdre will perk up a weekend lunch or refresh parched throats on hot summer evenings. Try it with tropical fruit salad, Provencal-style chicken or grilled salmon.

Details
¥ 2,600
2016 Cline

2016 Cline "Ancient Vines" Zinfandel

The oldest blocks in Cline’s 80-to-100-year-old Oakley vineyards provided the Zinfandel for this bottling. The sandy soils in eastern Contra Costa County managed to avoid the phylloxera of the late 19th century. These soils as well as the moderating influence of the Sacramento river delta encourage the gnarled vines to produce grape clusters with a great balance of acid and fruit. These vines are head-pruned and dry-farmed, much as they were by the Italian and Portuguese farmers who planted them originally. Organic, low-intensity farming and a hands-off approach to winemaking produce Zinfandel of stunning concentration. The 2016 brims with spicy, bright strawberry flavors, topped with notes of espresso and dark chocolate. Try it with slow-cooked BBQ pork or a spinach mushroom casserole.

Details
¥ 3,000
2016 Cline "Cashmere" California

2016 Cline "Cashmere" California

A blend of 62% Mourvedre, 22% Syrah, and 16% Grenache, Cashmere is smooth, silky and versatile, bringing out the best in grilled salmon or duck or pork. While modeled on the soft, juicy-ripe, perfumed reds of the Southern Rhone, it nevertheless asserts its California identity with its seductive color and intense fruit flavor. The fruit is sourced from Cline’s estate vineyards in Contra Costa county, some of which were planted on sandy soils over 100 years ago. Mourvedre provided luscious flavors of chocolate and cherry; Syrah added berry fruit and tannic structure, while Grenache added softness in the body and darker fruit flavors. Cline Cellars proudly supports Living Beyond Breast Cancer and over the years has contributed more than $270,000 to breast cancer foundations. Look for the ribbon on the label.

Details
¥ 3,000
2016 Cline North Coast Roussanne Marsanne

2016 Cline North Coast Roussanne Marsanne

Vintners in the Rhone Valley have long known that Roussane and Marsanne are fantastic blend partners, able to combine into a white wine that’s delightfully aromatic yet rich and well-bodied. While Marsanne provides depth, body, richness and nuttiness, Roussanne adds acidity as well as floral and fruity aromatics. The result is a rich and elegant wine to be enjoyed with meals. Both varieties are rare in California. The Marsanne comes from a small corner of Cline’s Carneros estate while the Roussanne is sourced from vineyards in the Sonoma Coast as well as Lake County. The combination of citrus, tropical fruit and full-bodied vitality suggests smoked fish, grilled salmon, or even curried or stir-fried dishes. Cline is one of a handful in California making wine from Marsanne and Roussanne; those looking to move beyond the typical whites should give this one a try!

Details
¥ 3,000
2016 Cline

2016 Cline "Ancient Vines" Mourvedre

The late-ripening Mourvedre does well in hot, dry climates such as Provence in Southern France and many parts of Spain. The 100-year-old Mourvedre vines in Cline’s Oakley Vineyard are planted in well-drained sandy soils in a part of Contra Costa County that sees little rainfall. As a result, the vineyard yields just 2 to 3 tons per acre. The combination of warm sun and cool air that flows in from the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers allows these grapes to get fully ripe while retaining acidity and freshness. Soft tannins and lush, concentrated plum flavors make this wine a wonderful accompaniment to grilled lamb, wild mushroom ragout or peppercorn crusted beef tenderloin. The alcohol - at 14.5% - is somewhat lower than in previous vintages. 

Details
¥ 3,000
2015 Cline

2015 Cline "Ancient Vines" Carignane

If you are drawn to bold, full-flavored Zins, you must try this wine! Planted widely across Southern France, Spain, Australia and California's Central Valley, Carignane is rarely bottled as a varietal wine. Naturally high in tannins and acidity, it can add color and body to red blends but offers little aromatic charm or finesse on its own…. unless the vines are old, in which case Carignane delivers magic. Cline's "ancient" Carignane vines were planted in the sandy soils of Oakley well over 100 years ago. Head-pruned and dry farmed, these vines produce wine of stunning concentration while the Oakley climate and soils add ripeness and dimension. With dark berry and plum flavors, spicy aromas, this Carignane is rich, ripe and full-bodied; an excellent match with for grilled meats or pizza with goat cheese. 

Details
¥ 3,000
2015 Cline Los Carneros Syrah

2015 Cline Los Carneros Syrah

Straddling southern Napa and Sonoma counties, Carneros features rolling hills planted largely to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. But the cool climate and clay soils turn out to be a fine terroir for Syrah. Indeed, the complex, nuanced flavors in Cline’s estate-grown Los Carneros could fool you into thinking it came from the Northern Rhone instead of Northern California. The estate features a foggy and windy hillside vineyard that ripens slowly over a long growing season, producing grapes with concentration and flavor. The 2015 Los Carneros Syrah is gorgeous, offering intense fruit, lively acidity, moderate tannins and a smooth mouthfeel. It would pair well with a steak or with spicy meat dishes such as Moroccan chicken or Korean bulgogi. 

Details
¥ 3,300