The Cline Old Vines Lodi Zinfandel 2015 is sourced from 70 to 50 year old vines in vineyards along the Mokelumne River in the delta section of the Lodi AVA in California’s Central Coast AVA. Lodi is south and east of Napa Valley. Cline is a family owned operation, founded in the early 1980s, with properties in several Northern California AVA’s, they have produced quality wine for decades. There is no legal definition for what constitutes “old vines” in the US, it could be 140 years old or 30 years old it’s up to the individual wineries, but 50 to 70 sounds legit to me. So, what’s the big deal about old vines you say? I think I write this every time we feature an old vines wine, so here goes again. Good wine grapes need to struggle to produce excellent wine, grapes that led an easy life tend to make simple wine. The best vineyards in the world are placed on land with poor soil, usually on ground strewn with rocks and places that don’t get much rain. Vines have low yields, but the grapes bursting with the things that make great wine. Old vines struggle just because like most things as they age they ain’t what they used to be. So one of the wonderful things about Zinfandel, all these old vineyards that were back in the day good but not great, have become over time, very special places. There was a time not so long ago when value priced Zinfandel was made in a bold and juicy style, today many producers are taking a different approach and allowing the intricate and complex grapes to shine through. Cline aged this Zin on 35% new French oak for 6 to 8 months and the alcohol content is a ripe 14%.
The color is a dark, but still see-thru garnet red with black highlights. The nose is not shy, the aromas jump out of the glass, ripe berries black and blue, toasty vanilla, pepper, exotic spice, and fresh ground cinnamon. This Zin has a lush, inviting mouth-feel, along with fruit flavors and solid structure. It starts with rounded, juicy black berry, followed sweet strawberry, a little bitter dark chocolate, and ripe black cherry. The mid-palate shows spice, cocoa powder, raspberry and a very light brush of salty minerality. The tannins are there, but they do not bite or interfere and the acidity is balanced by the body of the wine. The finish is full and long.
The Cline Old Vines Lodi Zinfandel 2015 drinks above its ten buck price tag, this is a solid Red, serve it with a well aged steak and it will fit right in. It has bold flavors but one flavor does not overpower the next, every taste and texture has its place. You do not need to spend big bucks to get a great drinking Zinfandel.