OK, so who wouldn’t be attracted to a wine called “Ancient Vines?” After all, when it comes to grapevines, older is usually better, promising wines with deep, intense flavors. This wine, at $18 a bottle in New York, delivers what I look for in a Zinfandel: firm, juicy flavors of plum and red berry that are quite zesty, backed up by plenty of firm acidity. Also, this Zin offers an interesting beefy aroma, which would make a great match with a good burger or steak (though my California colleague Tim Fish recently enjoyed it with pork chops).
Cline’s Ancient Vines’ grapes were harvested from some of this family-owned winery’s oldest vineyards, some up to a century in age. They hail from a variety of sources, the most important of which is in Oakley, in the eastern reaches of the Bay Area’s Contra Costa County. The Oakley vines are grown without supplemental irrigation, a rarity in California. Grapes also come from the Lodi district in the Sacramento Valley, as well as Sonoma and Mendocino counties. The wine was aged seven months in American oak barrels, 30 percent of which were new. This is a fine, hearty Zinfandel, and I rated it 87 points, non-blind.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Cline Zinfandel California Ancient Vines 2008 (88, $16).
• Plus, get our quick list of Top Values among California Zinfandel.