Many of the great wines of the world are single varietal; the Pinot Noir of Burgundy, the Chardonnay of Chablis, or the Cabernet Sauvignon of Napa. And while some the great wines of the world are blends, in the new world, when we look for great wines, we look for single varietals. There’s almost a condescension when it comes to blends in the new world, as if the varietals are not of good enough quality to stand on their own.
A region shared by both Sonoma and Napa, Carneros provides a cool climate due to the air off the San Pablo Bay. It is a region that has long been known for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines. Cline Cellars does grow some of those traditional grapes. But its founder, Fred Cline, is one of the original Rhone Rangers, the group of winegrowers who brought Rhone varietals to California in the 1980’s.Cline Cellars continues to excel in the Rhone varietals, offering Marsanne, Rousanne, Viognier in the whites as well as Grenache, Syrah, and Mouvedre in the reds. Viognier, Syrah and Mouvedre are made as single varietals. The Marsanne and Rousanne are blended as is the Grenache. Two blends offered at Cline Cellars are the Cashmere wines, made in both white and red. The Cashmere white is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Muscat and Viognier. It has beautiful fruit and floral aromas with enough acidity to make it food friendly, and just enough oak to give it some vanilla notes.
While the white Cashmere is lovely, the red Cashmere is stunning. The classic southern Rhone G-S-M blend (Grenache, Syrah and Mouvedre) is made even better with the addition of Petite Sirah. These four grapes together produce a wine with dark cherry and raspberry aromas with a dusting of chocolate notes. The acidity is crisp, and the tannins are velvety. Soft and rich, both blends live up to their name, Cashmere. Under the direction of the right winemaker, a new world blend can be a truly great wine.