Deep purple color; blackberry, cherry, blueberry, plum on the nose; black cherry, blackberry, red plum, pepper on the palate.
Dry; adequate acidity (3.87 pH), relaxed tannin, full body, lots of Sonoma fruit. Blackcurrant tang on mid-palate and finish. Benefits from decanting—as does almost all red wine. Tasty, with touches of greenness and pepper. With its sharp edges of blackcurrant, blackberry, and pepper, this is not a kick back and slurp it easy drinker; rather, it is serious wine at terrific price point. Drinks more like an Aussie shiraz than a Rhône syrah, or—more accurately—as a Sonoma syrah from a quality mass-market maker.
Fred Cline marches to different drummer. While some of his generation frolicked in the 60s, Fred learned the ways of soil and farming from Valeriano Jacuzzi—Fred Cline’s maternal grandfather and one of seven Jacuzzi brothers who pioneered in American aviation and water pumps. When you turn on a Jacuzzi in your hot tub you are enjoying his family’s work. Eschewing aircraft and whirlpool devices, Fred and his wife, Nancy, decided to go into the wine business in the 1980s.
Cline’s first mission was restoring old vines to grow Rhone-style wine vines, such as syrah. Later came attention to ancient—some more than a century old—zinfandel. It has worked, and Cline is a leader in responsible land management, sustainable farming, and historic preservation. The Clines own and have restored the Dillon Beach Resort, the Mizpah Hotel in Tonopah, NV, and the Villa Laura in Tuscany, Italy. The California Missions Museum on the Cline Cellars grounds houses scale models of all 21 California Spanish Missions crafted in the 1930s for the San Francisco World’s Fair.
The Clines also operate Green String Farm, a 150-acre working farm that produces a variety of fruits and vegetables grown on soil that is tended and nurtured without toxic chemicals. Produce from Green String is used by such culinary luminaries as Alice Waters of Chez Pannise.
Jacuzzi Family Vineyards specializes in Italian varietals; it is located across the street from Cline Cellars and is modeled on the Jacuzzi family home in northern Italy. The Olive Press is one of the most recognized artisan olive oil and balsamic makers in the U.S. Tonopah Brewing Company is the only brewery in central Nevada serving American ales, IPAs, pilsners, hefeweizen, and Irish red ale, all brewed in-house. Nice record of pleasuring diverse palates.
One of the Cline’s seven children, Emma Cline, is the author of a best-selling summer novel, The Girls. You could do a lot worse than reading the book and sipping wine her parents make while relaxing on the beach or in a summer hammock or sun room sofa or a winter roaring fire. If you Google her name and book title, you can find a large amount of very entertaining video interviews with the next generation of Cline achievers.
Cline Cellars Sonoma County Syrah 2015 is serious wine at bargain price. Loads of fruit, balanced, intriguing by mid-palate. Pair with strong flavors—barbecue pork and beef, grilled pepper steak, pulled pork on a bun, leg of lamb, lamb ragout with olives and peppers, dark chocolate, hard cheese. $11-14