2016 Cline North Coast Viognier

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

Until around 30 years ago, production of Viognier was limited to a small corner of the Northern Rhone Valley and was in danger of becoming extinct. However, when a new generation of wine lovers discovered how Viognier can combine a heady perfume of blossoms and peaches with a powerful body, production began to spread in Southern France, North and South America. Nevertheless, it is a difficult grape to get right; because of its naturally low acid, it requires a proper balance of cool nights and warm days. 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. 

Winemaking

Handpicked grapes were de-stemmed without crushing and pressed and then fermented at a cool temperature in stainless steel. 

Tasting notes

Juicy and full-bodied, the wine offers aromas of tropical fruit, sun-ripened peaches and floral notes. Flavors of pineapple, apricot and citrus open up on the midpalate that linger on the finish.

Appellation

North Coast (California)

Varietal

Viognier

Size

750ml

Closure

Screw Cap

Alcohol

14.0%

MLF

0%

UPC

098652180027