To taste the depth and complexity of flavor of an ancient vine grape just before it is harvested is to understand why the wine made from them is so special. Ancient Vines Zinfandel has flavors of dark berries, coffee and chocolate with great vanilla oak character and a long lingering finish. This wine has it roots in the Cline family’s 80 to 100-year old vines in Oakley. From these historic holdings the wine has grown to include grapes sourced from California’s finest zinfandel regions.
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The 2011 Ancient Vines Zinfandel draws primarily from a wide selection of
our oldest, most historic and shyest-bearing Zinfandel blocks in Contra Costa
County which make up 92% of this blend. Grapes were planted by Italian and
Portuguese immigrants in the sandy, phylloxera-resistant soils of Oakley,
California more than 100 years ago. These ancient, dry-farmed vineyards
consistently produce fruit of stunning concentration. The lots that we hand-selected are the result of sensitive farming practices, the singular Oakley
terroir and a unique cooling band of air that flows from the San Joaquin and
Sacramento Rivers. The remainder of the blend is selected from prized vineyards in Lodi.
Individual lots of Zinfandel were harvested separately according to ripeness and balance of acidity. The grapes underwent near total de-stemming and a very gentle crushing to ensure a large proportion of whole berries in the must — contributing to the explosive fruit character of the wine. The grape juice, skins and seeds (called “Must”) along with some added yeasts were fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks at the optimum temperature to extract rich flavors and provide excellent color. The wines were pressed off their skins at dryness and racked gently before being laid down to a complement of American oak cooperage for 8 months — approximately 35% new.
Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel shows wonderful, fat strawberry, with coffee and chocolate characters. Aging in new and used wood has lent this wine a subtle vanilla quality that nicely complements the explosive fruit notes.
Ripe fruit and soft tannins make this mouth coating rich vintage a nice complement to pasta dishes with a light tomato sauce or grilled meats.