Text Size:-+
08.15.2004

2002 Cline "Ancient Vines" Zinfandel, Contra Costa County, California

In general, I enjoy finding and reviewing wines here that are from smaller producers, as well as wines from areas that are off the beaten track. With this wine from Cline Cellars I've managed to do the latter, but certainly not the former. Cline is one of the biggest names in the Sonoma Valley. However, they happen to have a piece of land in an area known as Oakley in Contra Costa County, 55 miles east of San Francisco, that has some old, old Zinfandel vines on it. It's from this little out of the way patch of land that we get this wine.

To be fair to Cline, even though they are a pretty commercial, high-volume producer (and sometimes those seem like dirty words here on Vinography), they do have small time family beginnings. Started by Fred Cline the grandson of mid-century settlers in the Oakley area (albeit famous ones, named Jacuzzi -- yes, THAT jacuzzi), they have been remarkably successful growers and marketers, now producing something on the order of 150,000 cases a year.

Cline's Ancient Vines Zinfandel is produced primarily from the old vineyards in Oakley that I mentioned, as well as from a some other vineyards in Lodi. It was aged for 9 months in American oak. Though Cline says it will cellar for 10 years, I wouldn't count on that. In 10 years it will be brown as dirt and will have lost a lot of the fruit that makes it an enjoyable wine.

Tasting Notes:
This wine is blood red in the glass -- surprising, considering that it is so young and a zinfandel at that. Despite the uncharacteristic color, it dispels all uncertainty as to its varietal with a heavy nose of just-baked blackberry pie (maybe with a sweet oak crust) In the mouth it is lush and extracted, with ripe, dark blackberry and boysenberry flavors. The wine is thankfully kept from being too lopsided with a good amount of spice that tastes a bit like white peppercorn. The finish is long with just a slight bit of heat to it, unfortunately, but not enough to make the wine unpleasant.

Food Pairing:
Like so many fruit driven Zinfandels and Syrahs this is a great BBQ wine as well as a great wine to have with cheese. It's also good to have with some spicy foods like these pork chops with a mustard crust.

Overall Score: 8.5/9

How Much?: $18

This wine is not extremely hard to find, thanks to the massive volumes in which it is made and the prodigious marketing and distribution machine that is Cline Cellars. Check your local gourmet grocery store. You can also buy it directly from their Web site.

Comments (1)

01.18.07 at 4:32 AM

Cline does produce a lot of wine, but they do a good job of it in general. I've had mostly reds from Cline but I've enjoyed all of them to some extent. I've yet to have a bad wine from Cline.

Comment on this entry

(will not be published)
(optional -- Google will not follow)
Yes
 

Type the characters you see in the picture above.

Pre-Order My Book!

small_covershot_dropshadow.jpg A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.

Follow Me On:

Twitter Facebook Pinterest Instagram Delectable Flipboard

Most Recent Entries

Taste Washington Day One in Brief Vinography Images: Trailing Vine Checking On Some Older CA Pinot Noir Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape Vinography Images: Tuscan Garden IPOB - The Tasting That Became a Movement Does Vine Age Matter? Vinography Images: The Future Vineyard A Little Vinography Housekeeping 2014 Rhone Rangers Tasting: April 6, Richmond, CA

Favorite Posts From the Archives

Masuizumi Junmai Daiginjo, Toyama Prefecture Wine.Com Gives Retailers (and Consumers) the Finger 1961 Hospices de Beaune Emile Chandesais, Burgundy Wine Over Time The Better Half of My Palate 1999 Királyudvar "Lapis" Tokaji Furmint, Hungary What's Allowed in Your Wine and Winemaking Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Appreciating Wine in Context The Soul vs. The Market 1989 Fiorano Botte 48 Semillion,Italy

Archives by Month

 

Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.