Home Wine Regions Californian Wine Cline Zinfandel

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.

Cline Zinfandel

Cline Zinfandel

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
Variety: Zinfandel
Vintage: 2009
Alcohol: 14%
Rating: 86
Price:  $11.99

Find Cline 2009 Zinfandel with Snooth

Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel

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
Variety: Zinfandel
Vintage: 2009
Alcohol: 15%
Rating: 87
Price:  $15.99

Find Cline 2009 Ancient Vines Zinfandel with Snooth

Disclosure: These wines were received as a sample.


12 replies to this post
  1. I have to politely disagree with the rating for the Ancient Vines Zinfandel.

    While overall Cline Wines are decent-to-good, I can’t recommend the Ancient Vines Zinfandel. I’m not a daily wine drinker and am FAR FAR from very knowledgeable about wines at all, but this particular blend quite honestly, tasted like acidic Pine Bark. I couldn’t even make it through a glass.

    I took the bottle to work and asked several coworkers to test it (yes, we roll like that at work), and everyone just hated this one. 8 people, 8 different tastes, and 8 who disliked it. I’m afraid I’ll have to give this one a “pass”. But if you are the experimental sort, note that Sam’s Club charges about half of what Cline’s own web site does for this bottle.

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience, Atlantaguy. Do you know what vintage you tasted? It may have been a more recent vintage than when we reviewed this wine. Or it may have been a bad bottle. Nonetheless, I’m sorry to hear it didn’t work out for you.

  3. Just had a 2010 Cline Ancient Vines Zin — Amazing! I’m surprised it wasn’t rated in the 90s.

  4. Thanks for the update, Lrog. We haven’t had an opportunity to taste the 2010 yet, but it sounds like we should find that opportunity.

  5. Introduced via a Cline 2008 Ancient Vines Zin!

    So impressive, that I immediately notified some dear afectionados and began seeking corroboration – which led
    me to you.

    Thanks for your well researched analysis.
    I agree!


  6. Hey Ron. Thanks for the endorsement. It sounds like you truly enjoyed the Cline Ancient Vines Zin.

  7. I just opened a bottle of this last night and it was quite enjoyable. I am not well versed in the art of wine tasting but I do drink it regularly and always have my house stocked with 30+ bottles. I am guessing that if Atlantaguys bottle was very acidic as he describes, it probably went bad, as mine seemed quite low in the acidity category.

  8. My experience with the ancient vine Zinfandel was very good. I gave it 5 stars in my personal records. I loved it so much that I have purchased 4 bottles so far. Atlantaguy must have had a bottle that was “corked”.

  9. Hi Tim,
    I recently bought a Cline Zinfandel 2013 at Grocery Outlet on sale for $3.99. The label says it
    is made by Cline Cellars in Sonoma, CA. Is that the same winery you are referring to? I don’t
    see where I can attach a photo of the front & back labels.

  10. I have to disagree with this the wines are average at best…What do you expect for a 11.00 bottle of wine. Not to mention the owners are total ass holes

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