2014 Cline "Farmhouse" Red

Winery

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.

Wine

“Farmhouse” recalls an earlier era, when “field blends” were produced by immigrant farmers for home or local consumption. Two vineyards with distinct terroir were used to make the 2014 iteration of this blend, consisting of 49% Merlot, 46% Syrah, 4% Mourvédre, and 1% Pinot Noir. One, in Oakley, in northern Contra Costa County near the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers, features sandy soils and cool winds. The fruit is intense and pure. The other, within the Sonoma Coast AVA, sees a combination of foggy mornings and sunny afternoons that bring out bright flavors and refreshing acidity. 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. Try this with a steak - beef or tuna would satisfy equally - or a rustic pasta with plenty of mushrooms.

Winemaking

Handpicked grapes were fermented in stainless steel tanks and aged in 40% new French oak.

Tasting notes

Boysenberry and dark cherry flavors are offset with notes of pepper, tobacco and spice. Smooth tannins, a luscious mouthfeel and a long finish add to the pleasure of this wine.

Appellation

California

Varietal

49% Merlot, 46% Syrah, 4% Mourvédre, 1% Pinot Noir

Size

750ml

Closure

Screw Cap

Alcohol

14.5%

UPC

098652840013