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2. Clines Rhne Varietals
The Rhne River emanates from the Alps of central Switzerland and
meanders for hundreds of miles before it flows through Lake Geneva,
entering Eastern France seeking its final refuge in the
Mediterranean Sea. Before traditional transportation, the Rhne
River Valley was a vital trade and transportation route, now its
notorious as a large grape growing appellation in France. Grapes
that are grown in the Rhne Valley (one of the larger appellations
in France) are referred to as Rhne varietals. There are 22 Rhne
varietals identified by the French Government; Cline Cellars
produces seven, three white (Marsanne, Roussanne, and Viognier) and
four red (Carignane, Grenache, Mourvedre, and Syrah).
This varietal is a relatively scarce grape (approximately 2500
planted acres in France and 2,000 in California) due to its low
productivity and proclivity to powdery mildew. The vines need a
warm climate and are able to withstand periods of drought. The
grapes are a deep yellow hue and the wines they produce are high in
color with floral and stone fruit aromas. Because of its fragrant
properties and low acidity, it is often used as an aromatic and
softening agent with red wines. It also makes a delicious
Clines Viognier is composed of grapes from vineyards that offer
flavors indicative of the appellations from which they came. The
vines basked in the sun during the day and were cooled at night
which contributes to this Viogniers full-body weight.
This hardy grape, originating in the northern Rhone region,
produces a full-bodied, deeply colored, rich and nutty wine.
Optimal climates will produce a wine fruity and high in acid,
making it an ideal blending wine. In climates that are too hot, the
grape can over ripen and produce wine that is very flabby. In
places that are too cool, the grape will not ripen fully enough to
develop more than just a bland neutral flavor. As Marsanne ages, it
becomes even darker in color and the flavors can become more
complex and concentrated with an oily, honeyed texture.
The four acres of Marsanne, which contribute to Clines Marsanne
Roussanne blend, are planted on our estate in the Sonoma Carneros
appellation. The area is known for its cool and moderate
temperatures which allow for long ripening time and full flavor
This temperamental varietal tends to ripen unevenly, is prone to
powdery mildew, and has little resistance to wind and drought.
Roussanne is usually chosen for its bright acidity and unique
floral aroma. While most Rhone whites do not age well, the opposite
is true of this varietal, which may explain why vintners grow this
Clines Roussanne is grown in our Sonoma Coast vineyard. On some
summer days, fog intrudes and lingers until noon, providing an
ideal growing environment. Marsanne and Roussanne are the Northern
Rhone Valleys two most important white wine grape varieties and are
regularly blended together. There are less than 250 combined acres
of these grapes in California, making them a bit of a rarity.
Roussanne adds a zesty orange character mixed with grapefruit and a
wonderful mineral character.
This varietal holds the distinction of being one of the most widely
planted red grapes in France, and was once the most planted
varietal in the new world. It has traditionally been used as a
blending grape because of its favorable yields, excellent acidity,
and big tannins.
Cline Cellars is one of a few wineries to vinify this varietal. Our
Ancient Vines Carignane draws from a wide selection of our oldest,
most historic and shyest-bearing vineyards, many of which are over
100 years old. These special vineyards consistently produce fruit
of stunning concentration. The hand selected lots produce a mere
two to three tons of grapes per acre. The old vine elicits a taste
of typical Oakley terroir, a dusty, dark cherry fruit and a nice
The second most widely planted red wine grape in the world,
Grenache buds early, flourishes in dry, hot climates, and requires
an extended ripening time. Grenache has a tendency toward high
sugar and alcohol levels if planted in less desirable soils. It
also tends to lack acid, tannin and color, and for these reasons is
usually blended with other varieties.
Our ancient vines in Oakleys Big Break vineyard, which are planted
in sandy phylloxera-resistant soil, produce the
Grenache that is blended with Syrah and Mourvedre, forming our
luscious Cashmere wine.
The origin of this grape, also called mataro, is thought to be
Spain (named monastrell), where warmer climates allow this late
burgeoning fruit a lengthened hang time, allowing the small, sweet,
thick skinned grape to ripen fully. The tightly bundled fruit needs
ample ventilation to circumvent its susceptibility to mildew.
Vintners use Mourvdre in blends to boost color and tannins.
Unblended Mourvdre wines are intensely colored, somewhat alcoholic,
profoundly tannic and capable of aging well.
Clines Ancient Vines Mourvdre draws from some of our oldest, most
historic and shyest-bearing vineyard blocks. These blocks
perpetually produce fruit that is of stunning concentration. By
naturally restricting yields to only 2 to 3 tons per acre, we are
able to achieve a sublime expression of the Mourvdre fruit. These
grapes hold characteristics of dark, dusty berry fruit.
Long associated with the northern Rhne Valley of France, Syrah has
been used for centuries to produce some of the worlds finest and
exotically aromatic wines. An illustrious leader of longevity, it
is now widely planted in other regions of France as well as Italy,
Australia (known there as Shiraz) and California. Syrah has the
ability to form intense wines that are deep violet - almost black
in color, with chewy texture and richness. The aromas tend to be
more spicy than fruity.
Cline Syrahs are known for their deep color, distinctive aromas,
smooth tannins and robust flavors. Our vineyards are located in the
cool climate growing regions of the Sonoma Coast and Sonoma
Carneros appellations. This region produces wines of surprising
complexity. The deep purple color explodes with fresh blueberry and
black cherry fruit, spiced with cracked black pepper