Saturday, June 19, 2010

2007 Ancient Vines Mourvèdre from Cline Cellars

Cline Cellars was founded in 1982 by brothers Matt and Fred Cline. Their grandfather Valeriano Jacuzzi planted some vineyards in Contra Costa County already in 1896, so the brothers had wine and wine growing in their genes. Fred was in charge of the winemaking until 1999, when he hired a full time winemaker, and his brother Matt left the company in 2000. Today Cline Cellars owns 475 hectares of vines, of which approximately 110 hectares are located in Contra Costa wine growing region east of San Francisco. The vineyards are all sustainable farmed, but they are not certified as organic or biodynamic, since Fred wants to have a door open to use pesticides or insecticides if, and only if, it’s absolutely necessary.
At Cline Cellars, Zinfandel and Rhône varietals make up the wine list. Prices are moderate, most wines offer a great value, and the production now reach approximately 180 000 cases per year.

2007 Ancient Vines Mourvèdre / 86 p
This wine is made entirely from Mourvèdre grapes sourced in vineyards in Contra Costa County, which also is the stated AVA for this wine, and the vast majority of the vines are 110 to 115 years old! These vines may well be the oldest vines of Mourvèdre in California. Just a small fraction of the wine comes from younger vines, 15-30 years old, and on average, the yields are at 25 hectoliters per hectare. No stems are used during the fermentation, which takes place in stainless steel tanks, and the wine is then transferred into small American oak barrels, just 25 percent new, to undergo malolactic fermentation and 8 to 10 months of maturation. Although the alcohol in the wine is 15 percent, of perhaps even a bit higher, it’s in balance with the lush dark fruit with sweet and delicious notes of cassis and blackberries. A fine floral touch reminiscent of violets as well as a fresh almost eucalyptus like note (there are no eucalyptus trees close to the vineyard, Fred told me) adds personality to the wine. Tannins are perfectly ripe and very well integrated even at this young stage, which is not the case in most wines of Mourvèdre, so the texture is quite silky. It’s not a great and complex wine, but delicious to drink at 18 degrees Celsius to rich dishes of steaks or venison.
Drink it 2010-2017.

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