Today we have a double-header! Two different zinfandels from Cline Cellars.
Cline Cellars is actually pretty well known for their zinfandel. It’s their specialty, along with Rhone varietals, and they produce seven different zinfandels, that I know of, maybe more. These two are the “under $20” offerings from Cline, while the others they produce a slightly more expensive. But even with these entry-level wines, you’ll get some tasty juice.
Both of these zins have “California” listed as the appellation, meaning that the grapes come from multiple regions within the state, not just one AVA.
The base-level zinfandel from Cline Cellars is just labeled as “Zinfandel” with no other descriptors. The grapes in this wine come from Lodi (46%), Contra Costa County AVA in Oakley (43%) and the rest comes from Sonoma and other regions. The wine was aged for eight months in 30% medium-toast new French oak.
The first thing to stand out on the nose of this wine is the cherry aroma. It’s an intense and jammy cherry aroma, like that from a cherry cough drop. The nose also shows some vanilla, spice and cola aromas. The palate has plenty of spicy cherry and plum flavors. The tannins are sufficient, as is the acidity. It finishes relatively long, with a nice, spicy sour cherry flavor.
Wine: Cline Zinfandel
Find Cline 2009 Zinfandel with Snooth
Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel
One step up in price is the Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel. A lot of producers have “old vine zinfandel” but Cline is the only one I know of that sells an “ancient vines zinfandel.” It sounds like a marketing name to me, and it is. Old vines are known to create fruit with more concentrated flavors than younger vines, and that’s the appeal of old vine zinfandel. But, it’s not a regulated classification. Old vines may be 30-40 years old or more, but there’s no official age that denotes a vine as old, much less “ancient.”
UPDATE: According to Cline Cellars, the vines used for their Ancient Vines Zinfandel are 80+ years old.
The fruit in this wine come primarily from Lodi (63% of the blend), with the balance coming from Mendocino, Sonoma and Lake County, California. This wine was aged for seven months in 30% new American oak, with the balance in neutral oak.
There’s a lot going on in the nose of this wine. Cherry aromas, plum, coffee, vanilla and a wisp of smoke all swirl about. The palate is spicy, with blackberry and cherry flavors up front, a little bit of cocoa on the mid-palate and a spicy cherry finish. The acidity is perfect and soft tannins give the wine a nice mouth feel. This one is a little less jammy and more approachable than the other Cline zinfandel, but they’re both enjoyable wines.
Wine: Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel
Find Cline 2009 Ancient Vines Zinfandel with Snooth
Disclosure: These wines were received as a sample.