2018 Cline "Ancient Vines" Carignane

2018 Cline

¥3,300 (incl. tax)

When we think of California heritage vineyards, we may imagine the backroads of Sonoma County. But Contra Costa County is home to some beautiful, long-forgotten vineyards, such as the plot of old Carignane vines, planted in the 1940s, that produced this this dark, spicy gem. Cultivated widely in Southern France and Spain, Carignane is seldom bottled as a varietal wine. Naturally high in tannins and acidity, it is used to add color and body to red blends. But these head-pruned vines dry-farmed in the Oakley terroir produce fruit with stunning concentration, ripeness and dimension. 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.  


Winery Description

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.

About this Wine

Country USA
Region California
Appellation(s) Contra Costa County
Winery Cline
Vintage 2018
Color Red
Varietal(s) Carignane
Closure Cork
Volume 750ml
Bottle Size 8.0 x 30.0
Case Size 33.5 x 25.5 x 31.0
Alcohol 14.5%
Product Code CL18AVC
UPC 098652700027

Owning & Enjoying

Tasting notes

89 points – Wilfred Wong, Wine.com

The dark purple-black color belies a wine that is pleasantly light on its feet. Bright cherry aromas and notes of espresso, dark chocolate, and spice lead to a lush palate of red cherries, berries, violets, with hints of plum and white pepper. A soft tannic structure and bright acidity gives balance to the deep flavors that linger in the finish.



Grapes were handpicked and destemmed and lightly crushed. The wine was aged for 11 months in 35% new French oak.

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