New Wines From Old Vines

‘E’Wine Of The Week

By Bruce Cochran

Hello Everyone,

This week we’re looking for a new wine experience from older vines. There aren’t many of these special places left, but almost every country has some. We’ll look at one from California.

Try a new wine this week!


Cline Cellars Ancient Vines Mourvedre

Sometimes we’re looking for a familiar face in wine, and other times maybe we’re in the mood for something new. And in the wine world, something new often means something old that’s been rediscovered.

If you’re looking for a new wine experience you might find one with “Ancient Vines” from a California winery named Cline Cellars. I like their Mourvedre.

Just like many of California’s more famous grape varieties, Mourvèdre is originally from France, in this case the Rhône region where it remains an important component of Chateauneuf du Pape. Spain claims it, too, under the name Monastrell. For years it was widely planted in California where it had yet another name, Mataro, but only a tiny amount remains, much of it in stumpy, head-pruned decades old vineyards. They’re described sometimes as “gnarly” with individual vines standing alone on thick trunks — quite a contrast to modern trellised vineyards with their neat rows.

Grapes from old vines can have a palate-popping intensity of flavor that’s difficult to achieve with younger vines. As a vine ages, they produce fewer grapes, focusing all of their energy on them. Cline Cellars “Ancient Vines” Mourvedre is made from vineyards ranging from 80 to 120 years old from their Oakley Ranch in Contra Costa County east of San Francisco. The winery itself is actually one of the first wineries you see on the road to wine country along Highway 121 in the Carneros District of southern Sonoma County, about 45 minutes north of San Francisco.

With a yield averaging only 2 or 3 tons per acre — that’s really small — this wine combines Old World flavor with something of a New World style. Deep color, lots of fruit, some oak, flavors reminiscent of mocha and dark plum, moderately soft, unobtrusive tannins on the finish.

It retails for around $20 a bottle, a good price I think for a new experience.

Categories: Legacy Archive