In today’s Cellar Note we’re sipping Zinfandel, but not just any old Zinfandel. We are sipping Ancient Vine Zinfandel sourced from vineyards in California’s Contra Costa County. We received this wine as a tasting sample.
2016 Cline Family Cellars Ancient Vine Zinfandel, Contra Costa County — light ruby in the glass with generous aromas of dark berries and dried alfalfa hay. Complex flavors of blackberries, cedar spice, black pepper, tobacco and dusty earth follow. Tannins are smooth and well integrated with the flavors, which last for a good long time. 15% abv. SRP $15
This is a delightful Zinfandel with plenty of flavor and not too much wood influence. It is easy sipping and easy on the pocketbook. We found it was the perfect pairing for a lamb burger. I added a bit of crumbled Gorgonzola to the ground lamb before making the patties and the salty tang work well with the Zinfandel as did the creaminess of avocado. Pair this Zin with anything off the grill and you’ll not be disappointed.
Cline Family Cellars is owned and operated by Fred and Nancy Cline. Fred Cline’s family history in California winemaking reaches back to his grandfather Valeriano Jacuzzi’s Oakley ranch in Contra Costa County. The Oakley ranch is where Fred first became interested in winemaking himself.
Fred established Cline Family Cellars in Oakley in 1982. He realized the value of the head-trained vines planted in sandy soils and began a revitalization project that has kept these amazing old vines, some of which exceed 100 years of age, in production today. The yield from these ancient vineyards is small, but the fruit is concentrated and of very high quality.
Zinfandel is not the only ancient variety planted on the Oakley ranch. The Cline Family Cellars Ancient Vines Series of wines includes Mourvèdre Rosé, Mourvèdre and Carignane.
In 1989 Fred purchased 350 acres in the Sonoma County portion of the Carneros AVA and moved winemaking there. He has continued to expand his vineyard holdings in Sonoma, but clearly has not lost focus on these historic vines in Contra Costa County. Let’s raise a glass to preserving ancient vines.