2020 Cline "Ancient Vines" Zinfandel

2020 Cline

¥3,520 (incl. tax)

While no accepted standard exists for such terms as Vielles Vignes, old vines, or heritage vineyards, Cline Cellars “Ancient Vines” would satisfy any definition. Not only are the vines 80 to 100 years old, but they were planted on their own roots because the sandy soils in eastern Contra Costa County safeguard against the phylloxera louse. “Own-rooted” vines, head-pruned and organically dry-farmed, are a rarity anywhere in the world. In these soils and the moderate climate of the Sacramento River delta, the gnarled vines struggle to produce but a few grape clusters. But this fruit reliably comes in with great balance of acid and flavor. Add to organic farming a hands-off approach to winemaking, and you get Zinfandel of stunning depth and concentration. The 2020 is medium-bodied and delights with bright red fruit and spice, framed by smooth tannins and juicy acidity. Try it with slow-cooked BBQ pork, spare ribs, grilled sirloin steak, or a spinach mushroom casserole.


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 2020
Color Red
Varietal(s) Zinfandel
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 CL20AVZ
UPC 098652300029

Owning & Enjoying

Tasting notes

Aromas of strawberries, raspberries and briar fruit mingle with notes of vanilla and spice. A sumptuous palate of plums, raspberries, bramble, and cinnamon spice follows. Plump and juicy with soft tannins.



Grapes were destemmed and lightly crushed before fermentation in concrete tanks. The wine aged for 15 months in 40% French oak. 

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