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.

Wine Maker

Tom Gendall

Country

USA

Region

California


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Wines from this Winery


2019 Cline

Cline Zin in half bottles provides the perfect answer to the question of how to enjoy just a glass or two of red wine at midweek! In this convenient format, nothing goes to waste.

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¥1,705 (incl. tax)
2020 Cline

Cline’s Farmhouse label celebrates the Green String Farm in Petaluma, a center dedicated to studying methods of farming that are "beyond sustainable." In Cline’s vineyards that means keeping the soil and plants free from pesticides and artificial chemicals so that healthy vines produce high-quality grapes. In the winery, the focus is on blending grape varieties instead of relying on oak aging or other manipulations for flavor. Farmhouse 2020 consists of Zinfandel, Mourvèdre, Petite Sirah, and Carignane. This is a medium-bodied, luscious red wine with nicely balanced acidity, plum, chocolate, and berry notes and a smooth, rich finish. 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.

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¥2,200 (incl. tax)
2020 Cline

Cline Cellars’ 2020 Farmhouse White is an intriguing blend of Pinot Gris, Muscat Canelli, Palomino, Marsanne, and Viognier. And don’t be fooled into thinking the low price reflects character; it’s as rich, complex, and tasty as many a prestige label. The Farmhouse brand honors the Green String Farm in Petaluma (about 15 km from Cline Cellars), where a “beyond sustainable” philosophy of agriculture is taught to students from around the world. Since 2001, Fred Cline has been farming the Green String way, using no pesticides, herbicides or artificial fertilizers; controlling weeds with sheep and goats, and encouraging friendly insects to prey upon harmful ones. 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.

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¥2,200 (incl. tax)
2019 Cline Sonoma Coast Syrah

With years of practice, Cline Cellars has clearly mastered the secret to making gorgeously aromatic and succulent Syrah. The violets, coffee and black pepper on the nose - not to mention the structure and savory meaty notes on the palate — could suggest a coveted vintage from the Northern Rhone. But this is a California wine that’s priced to enjoy everyday. Cline Cellars sources its Syrah exclusively from estate vineyards in Sonoma’s newest AVA, the Petaluma Gap, where the climate gives the wine fresh acidity, pure fruit and a vibrant mouthfeel. A light but deft hand at winemaking maintains the purity of the fruit with just a short period of time in oak. Take in the aromas of black pepper and savory herbs, flavors of licorice, olive and boysenberry, and try not to pour a second glass!

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¥2,420 (incl. tax)
2020 Cline

Lodi may be less familiar than Sonoma County or Napa Valley, but this laid-back district east of the Bay Area has been producing wine since the 1850s. Responsible for over 40% of California’s premium Zin, Lodi is the true Zinfandel Capital of the World. Zinfandel thrives in Lodi’s summer climate of hot days and cool nights. And because of the unique sandy soils, vines in the older vineyards escaped being ravaged by phylloxera and remain planted on their own vinifera roots. The grapes for this rich and complex red wine come from several vineyards planted in the 1940s and 1960s in the Mokelumne River AVA, one of Lodi’s seven sub-AVAs. By carefully selecting and blending the fruit, Cline produces a lush and juicy Zin in which fruit, acidity and tannin are 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. 

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¥2,530 (incl. tax)
2021 Cline North Coast Viognier

A finicky grape that’s not easy to grow or to make into fine wine, Viognier was all but lost in the 1960s, when only a few vineyards remained in the northern Rhone Valley. But as word of Viognier’s alluring qualities got out, new fans were made, and acreage increased rapidly in California, Australia, Chile, and Southern France. In order to develop the characteristic floral aromas, stone fruit flavors and full body, Viognier grapes require a climate that will produce enough - but not too much - ripeness. The fruit in this offering was sourced from eight vineyards across the AVA, from Mendocino to Carneros and the Sonoma Coast. it’s a full-bodied wine with vibrant flavors, a lush mouth feel, crisp finish, and mouth-watering acidity. Think texture of a reserve Chardonnay but with fruit and character that’s unabashedly Viognier: peach, apricot, pear, and lovely floral notes. 

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¥2,530 (incl. tax)
2019 Cline Rose

Known as Monastrell in Spain or as Mataro in Australia and (sometimes) California, Mourvèdre thrives in hot, dry climates, such as Provence in Southern France. Because Mourvèdre has thick skins the wine can be inky black and tannic, but if pressed quickly and gently (like a “blanc de noir”), it produces beautiful rosé with appealing color but no astringency. The Mourvèdre in Cline’s Oakley Vineyard was planted over 100 years ago and grows in well-drained, deep sandy soils. The head-pruned vines may yield little fruit, but the flavors are bright and intense. 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. 

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¥2,860 (incl. tax)
2019 Cline

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 2019 brims with spicy, bright strawberry flavors, topped with notes of vanilla and cinnamon. Try it with slow-cooked BBQ pork, spare ribs, grilled sirloin steak, or a spinach mushroom casserole.

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¥3,300 (incl. tax)
2019 Cline Sonoma Coast Marsanne Roussanne

Rare in California, Roussane and Marsanne feature prominently in the Rhone Valley, where they are typically combined 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. The Marsanne (78% of the blend) comes from a small corner of Cline’s Carneros estate while the Roussanne (22%) is sourced from vineyards in the Sonoma Coast and the cool Petaluma Gap. Despite spending no time in oak, the wine has body along with fresh citrus and tropical fruit flavors. Try it with 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. If you are looking to move beyond the typical whites, you should check this one out!

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¥3,300 (incl. tax)
2019 Cline

Vines in a heritage vineyard look so twisted, short and stubbly, it’s hard to believe they can produce a wine that’s lush, bright, fruity and spicy. The Carignane vines that produced this gem were planted in the sandy soils of Oakley in the first half of the 20th century. Found widely in Southern France and Spain, Carignane is seldom bottled as a varietal wine. Naturally high in tannins and acidity, it tends to be used to add color and body to red blends in both the old and new worlds. But because these old head-pruned and dry-farmed California Carignane vines produce fruit with such stunning concentration, ripeness and dimension, Fred Cline chooses to be one of the few winemakers anywhere to bottle Carignane as a varietal wine. 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.  

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¥3,520 (incl. tax)
2020 Cline

Affordable yet extraordinary – that’s Cline’s Ancient Vines Mourvèdre, a fine wine with a great story. An important component in Spanish and Southern French blends, Mourvèdre's heyday in California was in the early decades of the 20th century. Cline's Mourvèdre vineyards in Contra Costa County are relics of that bygone age. Sandy soils allowed the vines to be planted on their own European roots without succumbing to the Phylloxera louse. The warm but windy climate around the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers allows these grapes to get fully ripe while retaining acidity and freshness. The wine is full-bodied, luscious, and bursting with juicy black fruit and gorgeous spice notes. Try it with grilled lamb, wild mushroom ragout or peppercorn crusted beef tenderloin.

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¥3,520 (incl. tax)
2020 Cline

“An indulgence you can afford” is how Cline Cellars describes this silky Rhone-style blend of Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Grenache. Sourced from the cool hills of the Sonoma Coast as well as dry-farmed vineyards in the Oakley region of Contra Costa County, Cashmere enchants with juicy black and red fruit and notes of spice and pepper. Cline Cellars developed this wine as a way to donate funds in the fight against Breast Cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. In the 21 years since the first vintage of Cashmere, the winery has been able to donate $792,000 to the cause. 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. Food pairings include pork, chicken, or duck – especially featuring Mediterranean spices including red pepper, sage, rosemary, and olives.

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¥3,520 (incl. tax)
2017 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. The estate features a foggy and windy hillside vineyard that ripens slowly over a long growing season, producing grapes with concentration and flavor. These conditions produce the wine’s awesome savory character of cracked black pepper and flavors of black cherry and chocolate that may remind one of the great Syrah wines of the Northern Rhone. Obvious pairings would include a juicy steak or spicy Moroccan Chicken, but thinking outside the box might lead one toward grilled salmon or sautéed vegetables served over pasta.

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¥3,630 (incl. tax)
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