In the latter part of the 1800s, the city of Oakley, in Contra Costa County, California was a booming farming community. Thousands of acres of orchards and healthy vineyards scattered across the region. Fred Cline’s maternal grandfather, Valeriano Jacuzzi (of the pump and spa fame) called this sunny town home. On summer visits to his grandparents residence, Fred learned to love both agriculture, and the process 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. From that day forward, he preserved and restored many ancient vine sites to their rightful reign as some of the premier California wines in the area.
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.
I was given the opportunity to sample four wines from Cline Cellars and Jacuzzi Family Vineyards. The wineries produce a vast array of wines with something for just about everyone.
My lineup included the following wines:
- 2010 Jacuzzi Family Vineyard Chardonnay Giuseppina
- 2010 Jacuzzi Family Vineyard Sagrantino Tracy Hills
- 2011 Cline Cellars Cashmere
- 2010 Cline Cellars Syrah Los Carneros
Here are my thoughts and reviews on those wines.
This 100% Chardonnay is made with grapes from the winery’s Sonoma Coast Vineyard. This vineyard is cooled with the breeze off the Pacific Ocean and is covered with fog on many mornings. These conditions allow for slower ripening providing extra “hang time” so the grapes can reach their full flavor potential.
After tank fermentation, the wine is barrel aged for five months. The final alcohol is 12.5%.
The wine is a bright yellow to golden color. The fresh and fruity nose has green apples, pears, vanilla, toast, minerals, and a touch of lemon and orange zest. This has a medium body, decent acidity, and just enough sweetness to add a bit of richness. The palate has crisp apples and pears up front with a touch of spicy oak and vanilla, some flinty minerality comes in on the back end. The finish has nice length and closes with just a touch of mouthwatering acidity. This has enough richness to drink on its own, but it also has enough acidity to stand up to a rich cream sauce, cheese, or seafood.
This is new grape for most people. The Sagrantino grape is native to Italy but there are only about 250 acres of vineyards in that country. The grapes for this wine is from one of the very few vineyards in this country where they are grown, in San JoaquinCounty’s Tracy Hills Vineyard.
After tank fermentation, 30% of the wine is moved into new French oak barrels with the remaining 70% moved into neutral barrels for 10 months of aging. The final alcohol in the wine is 13.5%.
The wine is a fairly deep ruby red color. The relaxing and homey nose has warm blackberry pie, white pepper, tobacco, dried herbs, crushed stone minerals, and some wild flowers. This has a medium to full body with fairly solid ripe tannins and decent acidity. On the palate the wine again resembles warm blackberry pie with just enough savory notes to add depth and balance out the up front fruit. The finish has nice length with the jammy berries, baking spices, and minerals lingering seemingly forever. There is just enough acidity to keep the wine from getting too plodding.
Cashmere is a blend of approximately 28% Mourvèdre, 25% Syrah, 23% Grenache, and 22% Petite Sirah, with most of the grapes coming from Contra Costa County.
After tank fermentation, the wine was aged 8 months in oak barrels, 25% of which was new French oak. The final alcohol level is 13.5%. Over the years Cline has donated almost a quarter million dollars to breast cancer foundations with proceeds coming from the sell of Cashmere wine.
The wine is a ruby red color. The rich and inviting nose has plums, earthy underbrush, baking spices, black pepper, dried herbs, blackberries, a touch of cherry and a floral note. This has medium body, soft ripe tannins, and decent acidity. This is rich and plush on the palate with the plums and berries taking center stage and allowing spices, herbs, and a touch of earthiness to join in from the sidelines. The finish has nice length with plush fruit and spice stealing the show.
The grapes for this wine come from Cline’s 18 acre hillside estate vineyard in Sonoma’s Carneros region. After tank fermentation, the wine was aged 12 months in 30% new French oak barrels. The final alcohol level in the wine is 14.5%.
The wine is a medium violet color. The slightly reserved nose has plums, black cherries, warm baking spices, smoke, dark bittersweet chocolate, and a touch of forest floor. This has medium to full body, fairly solid tannins, and very good acidity. On the palate, ripe plums and spice are featured up front with some dark chocolate, cherries, and earthy elements coming in on the back end. The finish is fairly long with tart cherries and spice lingering. This was much better on the second day, so I’d recommend plenty of decanting if opened in the next year.
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