Monday, May 5, 2014

Cline Cellars Clicks With Stylish Rhone Bottlings

In 1982, with an inheritance from his grandfather, Fred Cline founded Cline Cellars near Oakley, California. Here, he preserved and restored many ancient vine sites to their rightful reign as premier California wine lands. Over the years the winery has grown and today is known for some of California’s most distinctive Rhone-style wines and flavorful Zinfandels.
We recently tasted through three current releases. The 2012 Sonoma Coast Marsanne Rousanne, 2013 Contra Costa County Mourvedre Rosé and 2012 Sonoma Coast Cool Climate Pinot Noir were on our tasting list. We paired the three with a meal of turkey cutlets with herbed white wine cream sauce, Swiss chard and some salad.
We opened with the Marsanne/Rousanne. the blend is 66% Marsanne and 34% Rousanne. The wine is unoaked, which we appreciate. It takes a skillful hand to prepare wines in this fashion, which allows the subtle flavors to shine. The wine has a mineral character and a dollop of honey flavor. There is a twist of orange zest.
There are less than 250 combined acres of these grapes in California, making them rare varieties. The wine has a rustic charm. As our chilled wine warmed, the flavors became more pronounced.
Our next sip was of the 2013 Mourvedre Rosé. It was the surprise of the night. The grapes come from Cline’s Oakley vineyards in Contra Costa County. The vines are centuries old, grown in deep, sandy soil.
It is made in a Blanc de Noir style, or a “white of a red grape.” The wine extracts a small amount of color from the skins resulting in a beautiful light strawberry hue.
This wine paired beautifully with our dinner. In fact, we wished this Northwest Ohio spring were warmer, because it would have been a sensational meal on a sunny patio. The wine is dry (0.81% residual sugar) and refreshing.
We had a slight chill on the rosé. It was crisp with strawberry and cherry flavors. It’s not what you might expect from a rosé – and it was our premier pick of the evening.
The Cool Climate Pinot Noir was another winner. I enjoy cool climate wines because they often display a range of flavors that contrast with their usual grape profiles. The Pinot displays a nice toasty flavor with a bit of acidity. It’s a vibrant wine with flecks of vanilla.
Aging for nine months in 35% percent new French medium toasted oak contributes to the delicious texture. The turkey cutlets are mild in flavor, which worked well for us since we tasted a red, rosé and white. This Pinot, due to the toastiness, can stand up to more robust meats like lamb or braised beef.
This is one of the most enjoyable Pinot Noirs I’ve tasted in a while.
This trio of Cline wine scored highly with us. Not only is the wine admirable, but their agricultural practices are as well.
Since 2000, Cline Cellars has farmed the Green String way - naturally and sustainably and avoid chemical pesticides, fungicides, and fertilizers that are generally used in everyday farming. They retain healthy vineyards by using organic cover crops, compost teas, crushed volcanic rock and oyster shell, natural mined sulfur and sheep grazing.
Cost is no barrier for these wines. All three bottles are priced at less than $18. That’s a tasty value.

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