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Senior Tim Fish joined the Wine Spectator staff in 2001. His tasting beat includes Oregon, Washington, California Zinfandel and Rhône-style reds, and U.S. sparkling wines.
Tim Fish

A Crowd-Pleasing California Rhône Red

Cline Mourvèdre Contra Costa County Ancient Vines 2008

Tim Fish
Posted: September 22, 2010

“What’s Mourvèdre?” a friend asked as I opened a bottle of Cline’s 2008 Ancient Vines. We were hanging out by the grill at a neighbor’s house on a sunny Northern California afternoon. With my wine-savvy friends, I like to experiment, but the group at this party prefers the familiar. Whenever I’ve taken a dry rosé or even a nice Côtes du Rhône, they would taste it but then generally reach for a California red.

This time I tried a Rhône variety made by Cline, as I’ve been following the winery’s Mourvèdres for years. The 2008 is boldly Californian in style—ripe and fleshy—but retains enough of the grape’s classic smoky gaminess that Rhône lovers expect. It was a hit. No, it wasn’t particularly complex or ageworthy, but it’s immensely sippable at a barbecue and only $16. I rated it 87 points, non-blind, that night. While I don’t think I made any great converts to experimentation, I’m a big believer in small steps. Next time, maybe a Grenache!

WineSpectator.com members: Get scores and tasting notes for previous vintages of Cline Mourvèdre Ancient Vines, plus recently rated Mourvèdres from other California wineries.

Jason Carey
willow, ny usa —  September 26, 2010 12:55pm ET
I'm sorry to me that wine has no varietal character or sense of place. its just an over extracted over ripe industrial product.
Tim Fish
Santa Rosa, CA —  September 26, 2010 2:35pm ET
Jason, I'm assuming from your note that you tried this specific wine. I'm big believer in varietal character and sense of place, and yet I know many casual wine drinkers who just want something that's tasty and doesn't cost a fortune. This is a wine for them.

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