2016 Three Old Vines Zinfandel Contra Costa County

2016 Three Old Vines Zinfandel Contra Costa County

¥3,630 (incl. tax)

With a nose that explodes with berries and spices and dark fruit flavors that won’t quit, this wine is bottled hedonism. It’s also Zin made the way the pioneering European immigrants did over 100 years ago - as a field blend, in this case:  76% Zinfandel, 8% Carignane, 8% Petite Sirah, and 8% Alicante Bouschet. As winemakers across much of Europe know well, blending builds complexity. Here, Petite Sirah buttressed the Zin with tannin structure as well as boysenberry and pepper, while Carignane helped create a fleshy mouthfeel along with dark cherries and coffee notes. The ancient dry-farmed vines growing in the sandy loam soils of eastern Contra Costa County, produce small grape clusters and berries, but the wine made from them is deeply concentrated and rich. The embodiment of Matt Cline’s dictum of “The dirt, the micro-climate and don’t screw it up,” Three Old Vine Zin delivers a profusion of pleasure that’s easy to afford. 


Winery Description

Matt and Erin Cline, the owners and proprietors of the Three Wine Company maintain a philosophy about wine, namely, that it can be reduced to just three vital elements: dirt, microclimate and sustainable wine-growing. By sourcing fruit from old vineyards in Contra Costa, Napa and Sonoma counties and by working closely with the growers who own them, they not only supply quality wine to customers but help preserve a unique aspect of California’s agricultural heritage.

If Matt Cline is a name that rings familiar to Hotei customers, it should! The younger brother of Fred Cline, Matt studied entomology at UC Berkeley and then enology at UC Davis and went on to become Cline Cellars’ winemaker from 1985 to 2001. But from the start, Matt was involved in much more than just making Cline wines. In fact, he played a large role in discovering and helping to preserve the old vineyards that produced the fruit for some of Cline’s top wines. When Fred Cline established the winery in Oakley (in Contra Costa, along the San Joaquin River delta), it was Matt who made handshake deals with the Spinelli, Evangelho and Lucchesi families who owned such plots known as Bridgehead and Big Break. Planted by Italian and Portuguese immigrant farmers as long ago as the 1890s, the Zinfandel, Mataro (Mourvedre) and Carignan vines had managed to survive such crises as phylloxera and prohibition. Rooted in well-drained, sandy soils and farmed without irrigation, these ancient vines yielded little quantity but offered character that isn’t found in the fruit of younger vines. By recognizing the potential for these low-yielding vineyards in an unrecognized region to produce fine wine, Matt Cline managed to save them from succumbing to the next real crisis: the sprawling East Bay suburbs that were reaching northern Contra Costa County.  

In the 2000s, Matt Cline moved on from the Cline family business to found other ventures, such as Trinitas, which he sold in 2006, a brand of late harvest Riesling called S3x (small, sweet sips), and eventually the Three Wine Company. In all his ventures, he has sought out old vineyards and encouraged their owners to adopt sustainable farming and nourish these historic plots to good health. 

Three Wine Company is located in Clarksdale, California and makes wine from not only the same Contra Costa vineyards that Matt has worked with for over three decades, but heritage vineyards in the Russian River and Napa valleys as well. While some of Three’s wines are single varietals, Matt prefers the magic that occurs by blending Zin, Mourvedre, Carignan, and Cinsault, which he believes is both more historically accurate and sustainable. 

About this Wine

Country USA
Region California
Appellation(s) Contra Costa County
Winery Three
Vintage 2016
Color Red
Varietal(s) 76% Zinfandel, 8% Carignane, 8% Petite Sirah, 8% Alicante Bouschet
Closure Cork
Volume 750ml
Bottle Size 7.5 x 31.0
Case Size 31.5 x 23.5 x 32.0
Alcohol 15.4%
Product Code TW16OVZ
UPC 094922115027

Owning & Enjoying

Tasting notes

90 points – Wine Enthusiast.

Aromas and flavors of briar fruit, blackberry and cherries with accents of clove and cedar, in a wine with great concentration and firm tannins.



Fermented in stainless steel and aged in French and American oak for 12 months.

Review this Wine