See here’s the thing I try to impart on anyone who will listen- wine doesn’t have to be “technically good” to be a favorite. Wine critics wax on about high acidity and gentle tannins, the aging ability, depth of flavor…and all of those are wonderful things. And wines that have excel in those categories can be amazing wine- but see wine isn’t just marking check boxes. Wine is experiences, it's memories, it’s passion, it’s love. More often than not someone’s favorite wine isn’t something that was graded high by some wine critic- its something that transports them to memory.
I bought Cline Vineyard’s Cashmere blend while I was on a business trip to San Francisco probably about 8 years ago. Long before I had studied anything about wine. I had a meeting with our Asia teams later that evening and so I declined to go out with coworkers when our day wrapped up. Instead I made my way to Fisherman’s wharf and bought dinner and a bottle of wine to bring back to the hotel. This bottle of wine. It was more expensive than what I normally drank, but I decided I deserved to splurge.
I remember sitting in my room later that night relishing every sip of a wine that was so luxurious to me. A blend of Mouvedre, Grenache, and Syrah- it was full of notes of chocolate and red fruits- I remember thinking that it felt like I was sipping the most wonderful cherry dipped in chocolate concoction I’d ever had. There were little notes of spice to keep it savory. It was perfect in my book.
I spent years trying to find it after I returned to Boston. I even emailed the vineyard for assistance. They relayed the horrible news that their Cashmere wine was still unable to be shipped to Boston -something with labelling laws, but they were working on it. Cut to tonight- when I found this bottle in my (very) local wine store.
Simple label, limited colors- I felt excited about my purchase. When I returned home I wondered- what are Cline’s practices when it comes to their wine? Are they cutting corners and finding shortcuts to getting the juice in the bottle or are they taking pride in their work. I gotta say- Im not sure I’ve ever been so impressed with a companies website. Every step of their winemaking process is outlined - from the sheep and goats they use to remove weeds harmful to the vines, to their commitment to keeping their wines clean throughout the fermentation process.
The resulting wine, 2016 vintage: ruby red, but starting to lean towards garnet. The nose is bright with red fruits- cherries and raspberries, but plums as well. Spicy black pepper, hints of chocolate, a bit of eucalyptus, and a background of cola. Dry, not bone dry, but definitely dry on the palette, high- acidity, as I’d anticipate from Sonoma. Light body, and light tannins. The flavors- strawberry was the first, then raspberries and cherries. The black pepper stayed behind, and no trace of the eucalyptus on the tongue. Cola for sure, and just hints of chocolate. Despite the color of the wine hinting at aging, the wine itself presents with youth, and the ability to age.
No matter what- remember that wine is more than just the description above. Wine is the experience and the memory. Now if you’ll excuse me- I’m going to go enjoy my wine and remember when I was a fresh faced 20 something, drinking wine in hotel rooms after meetings with Asia ;-)