2016 Cline "Old Vine" Lodi Zinfandel (375ml)


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.


Cline’s Old Vine Zin in the 375 ml bottle solves that problem of what to do when only a glass or two of of a fine red wine are called for. The grapes for this rich and complex red wine come come from several old vineyards located in the Mokelumne River AVA, one of Lodi’s seven sub-AVAs.  Located at the northern end of the San Joaquin Valley, the region has been producing wine grapes since the 1850s and is renowned for distinctive, voluptuous Zinfandel. Abundant heat on long summer days is balanced by cool nights, an ideal condition for growing excellent Zinfandel grapes. By carefully selecting and blending the fruit, Cline produces a lush and juicy Zin in which fruit, acidity and tannin and in excellent balance. The rich berry flavors and smooth structure suggest excellent pairing with bold-flavored foods such as penne putanesca, grilled meats or chili con carne.


Grapes are de-stemmed and lightly crushed prior to fermentation in stainless steel on prepared wine yeast. After racking two or three times, the wine aged 8 months in wood barrels (35% new French oak).

Tasting notes

88 points (Best Buy) – Wine Enthusiast Aromas of strawberry jam and plums with a note of earthy minerals precede flavors of black cherry, raspberry and vanilla. The wine is full-bodied and nicely textured with supple tannins and moderate acidity providing a firm structure.


Contra Costa County






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