What's not to like? That's a phrase I use when it comes to describing good wines that sell for a reasonable price. There aren't many California wineries that can consistently offer quality value wines across the board. I've blogged about Bogle and Columbia Crest as part of an ongoing series on labels that overdeliver on quality relative to price, and Cline Cellars is in that same league.
Search Wine Spectator's database of Cline reviews and rarely do the wines score below 84 on our 100-point scale, and most sell for $25 or less. Three recent releases stand out. The Zinfandel Sonoma County 2010 (89, $20) is a zesty red, loaded with soft and jammy fruit, while the Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast Cool Climate 2009 (88, $17) is that rare Pinot value, offering a full body and a minerally finish. Then there's the Mourvèdre Contra Costa County Ancient Vines 2010 (88, $16), which is a supple and generous Rhône-style red with notes of wild berry and mint.
Fred Cline started his winery back in 1982 in a relatively obscure place, the town of Oakley in the California delta region east of San Francisco. The area is home to some of the oldest vineyards in California. It's not unusual to find vines that were planted 80 to 100 years ago. Cline farms about 140 acres of mostly Mourvèdre, Carignane and Zinfandel there, and the climate and terrain are distinctive. Summer days get toasty warm but evenings typically turn cool on the delta, and the soil is deep and unusually sandy.
Cline moved the winery to Sonoma's Carneros region in 1991 and expanded into cool-region grapes like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which are grown on the winery's 350-acre estate and over the mountain in the Petaluma Gap region of the Sonoma Coast. Yet Zinfandel remains the winery's calling card and dominates production.
Veteran winemaker Charlie Tsegeletos and his crew produce a lot of wine—there are nearly 150,000 cases of the 2010 California Zinfandel (83, $12) alone—so bottles are readily available around the country. With so much mass-produced drivel on the retail wine shelves, it's good to know there are some value brands worth seeking out.
Have you tried Cline wines? Are there other value brands that you think overdeliver?
Peter Vangsness — Springfield, MA — July 25, 2012 2:23pm ET
Tim Mc Donald — Napa,CA — July 25, 2012 2:29pm ET
Tracy Hall — Sonoma, CA — July 25, 2012 2:42pm ET
Robert Larsen — Healdsburg, CA — July 25, 2012 5:06pm ET
Tim Fish — Santa Rosa, CA — July 25, 2012 5:37pm ET
John Wilen — Texas — July 25, 2012 7:32pm ET
Steve Order — Massachusetts — July 25, 2012 7:52pm ET
Keir Mccartney — League City,TX — July 26, 2012 12:46pm ET
Philip A Chauche — Germantown, MD — July 26, 2012 1:16pm ET
Dry Creek Vineyard — Healdsburg — July 27, 2012 12:13pm ET
Shelley Gans — Townsend, Mass. — July 27, 2012 1:57pm ET
Ted Keyser — Dripping Springs, Tx — July 27, 2012 5:55pm ET
Colonial Spirits — Acton, MA, USA — July 28, 2012 12:26pm ET
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