Monday, October 4, 2010

Cline Cellars Ancient Vines Mourvedre, 2008

I'm always a bit skeptical when I see the term "ancient vines" on a New World wine. In some cases, it means vines that may be relatively old but would be considered "young" in France, Italy or Spain. That's clearly not the case with this wine, which I ordered by the glass at Zingerman's Road House in Ann Arbor. It has all the concentration and power that I expect from old vines and, what is more important, true Mourvedre character.

With a little research, I learned that most of the grapes come from some of the oldest vines in California--110 to 115 years old--from Oakley just east of San Francisco. As I remember, this has in the past been a prime source for Steve Edmunds of Edmunds St. John, who produces some of my favorite New World Mourvedre and Syrah wines.

The wine is a deep purplish color, and I also find deep purple flower tones in the aromas and flavors. There is a rough tree bark note in the smells that may turn off some tasters. But that's Mourvedre. Have a little patience. With a little aging, a little aeration or just a little rich food in your mouth to coat the tongue, the rough outer shell opens to reveal a beautiful kernel of fruit--fresh, dew-covered blueberries on a bed of violets. Other tasters' notes speak of eucalyptus, dark cherries and cocoa powder. And I agree. On the tongue, there is true old vine concentration but the tannins are ripe enough that the wine goes down smoothly right now.

I am a real fan of Mourvedre from Southern France, Spain and Edmunds St. John in California. Add this Cline Cellars Ancient Vines to the list. At 8 to 10 years of age, it should be even better.

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