2016 Cline North Coast Roussanne Marsanne


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.


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!


The grapes were handpicked, de-stemmed and gently pressed before fermentation and aging in stainless steel tanks. This wine was not exposed to oak aging in order to maintain the purity of the fruit.

Tasting notes

Vivid aromas of peach and notes of honey and orange lead to tropical fruit and minerality on the palate. It’s a full-bodied wine in which lively fruit shines through the long finish.


North Coast (California)


64% Roussanne, 36% Marsanne