What We Say 2008 Heritage Zinfandel
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Mission Codename: The Forerunner
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Cline Cellars (sister winery to Wine Spies’ Operative Favorite, Jacuzzi Family Vineyards) , in Sonoma County’s Carneros region, and return to Wine Spies HQ with another of their superb Zinfandels.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Cline Cellars
Wine Subject: 2008 Heritage Zinfandel
Winemaker: Charles (Charlie) Tsegeletos
Zinfandel is often aptly named California’s grape. Its history and lore and the wines that result are often the makings of legend. In the case of today’s wine, Cline’s winemaker had his pick of the Cline family’s best century-old vines. Contra Costa is technically considered part of California’s Central Coast region and is located east of Oakland and north of Livermore.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Intriguing our tasting panel, this wine shows very differently under indoor lighting than it does outdoors. Inside, the wine looks dark and foreboding with dark Burgundy hues that deepen to nearly toward the core of the wine. Outside, in sunlight, it show a gorgeous deep ruby color. Color, in either case, is concentrated throughout and right out to the edge of the glass. chubby legs move slowly down the glass when swirled.
Smell – Dark cherry pastry, blackberry bramble, dusty blueberry and cocoa dust mingle with lightly roasted coffee bean, brown spice, soft oak and a very subtle hint of fresh bay laurel leaf.
Feel – Smooth and light on entry, then the wine gets grippy and mouth-filling with a plush dryness that spreads quickly around the palate. The plush, mineral rich feel is held up by structured medium tannins and balanced acidity.
Taste – Bold and flavorful, leading off with a dusty, earthen blackberry, black plum skin, black cherry, blueberry and soft spice. Layered beneath these are black tea leaf, dark chocolate, espresso, soft oak, dried meats and a hint of fresh salad herbs
Finish – Long and dark, with black fruit slowly giving way to the earthen flavors and soft spice. After the flavors tail off, slate and spice remain for a little while.
Conclusion – This is another Old Vine thriller from our friends at Cline Winery. From some of California’s most ancient Zinfandel vine sites, this wine delivers character and flavors that are distinctly Old Vine. Balanced but bold, today’s 2008 Heritage Old Vine Zinfandel is a delicious romp on the palate, and a treat to the nose. Dark fruit and a fantastic earthen quality are supported by a solid backbone, from first sip and through to its long, dusky finish. Pair this big wine with your best barbecued meats. A well-peppered, garlic rubbed New York would be heavenly!
With budbreak having just occurred, today’s winemaker is busy in the vineyards, making it impossible to secure our Winemaker Interview. Be sure to check back the next time we feature an exceptional Cline wine.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of Cline Cellars can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
Blended from all three of our Contra Costa single vineyard reserve Zins (Big Break 59%, Live Oak 33% and Bridgehead 8%) this wine has a serious pedigree that is sure to captivate the most discerning Zin lovers. Prepare to savor the luscious blackberry, spice, and coffee flavors. Add a steak or surf and turf with Dungeness crab and you’ll have a meal your friends and family will rave about for weeks.
Vineyard Notes: This luscious Zinfandel comes from our prized Big Break, Live Oak and Bridgehead vineyards located in Oakley. All within a two mile radius of one another, these vineyards are planted in deep sand soil, are dry-farmed and head-pruned, and employ farming practices that were originally used by the Italian and Portuguese immigrants that inhabited the area before the turn of the century.
Production Notes: Grapes were harvested at natural high sugar levels and almost entirely de-stemmed and lightly crushed, with a large proportion of whole berries remaining in the must. Fermentation occurred at moderate temperatures in stainless steel tanks, using yeast that was selected for its tolerance of higher alcohol that these grapes produce. After eight days of gentle “pump-overs” and near dryness, the wine was pressed from its skins and put down to French oak for 13 months.
Winemaker Notes: The Heritage Zinfandel is big and flavorful, with notes of mint, sweet berries, spice, coffee, and licorice – a classic example of the big-boned Zinfandels for which Cline Cellars has become known. The wine’s acidity and tannins are firm, but balanced, creating a luscious wine.
Food Pairing: Try this wine with grilled steak, duck or a spicy pasta dish. Check out the recipes at www.clinecellars.com/haveittonight.
About The Winery:
our roots run deep – In the latter part of the 1800s, Oakley, Contra Costa County was a booming farming community with thousands of acres of orchards and healthy vineyards. Fred Cline’s maternal grandfather, Valeriano Jacuzzi of pump and spa fame, called this place home. On summer visits to his grandparents, Fred learned both the love of agricultural life and the mysteries of vinifying grapes into wine. These lessons led Fred to obtain a degree in Agriculture Management from U.C. Davis. In 1982, with an inheritance from his grandfather, Fred founded Cline Cellars near Oakley, California. Here, he preserved and restored many ancient vine sites to their rightful reign as premier California wine lands.
In 1991, Fred and his wife Nancy relocated the winery from Oakley to the Carneros region of Sonoma County on a historic 350-acre estate with new vineyards and facilities. While much of the cool Carneros region is planted to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Merlot, Fred pioneered the planting of Rhône varietals including Syrah, Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne.
Fred’s innovation and experimentation led to producing rich, distinctive Rhône-style wines and intense, flavorful Zinfandels for which he has garnered enormous acclaim. In 2007, our 2004 Sonoma Zinfandel was rated 91 pts by the Wine Spectator, the 2004 Bridgehead Zinfandel was rated 90 pts, and the 2004 Ancient Vines Mourvèdre was named, “One of the top 100 values of the Year” by Wine & Spirits, June 2007 issue.
Wine Type: Red Wine
Appellation: Contra Costa County
Harvest Date: August 22-September 1