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Wine review: Cline Cellars Cool Climate Syrah 2010

image from www.clinecellars.comYears ago, when the Wine Curmudgeon was only a little crank, Cline Cellars made nifty cheap red and white blends called Cotes d'Oakley, a play on the French Cotes du Rhone wines. Sadly, Cotes d'Oakley went the way of too many inexpensive wines, and it's not available today.

And, frankly, Cline wasn't the same winery without it. Its wines went more upscale in price and style, becoming very post-modern — lots of fruit and lots of alcohol, and closer to $20 than $10. Or, as one comment on CellarTracker, the unofficial wine inventory software of the blog, said of the winery's 2009 syrah: "I may be wrong, but it is getting worse. Medicinal, industrial, uninspired effort."

Which is why I was intrigued when I recently received several samples from Cline, including the cool climate syrah ($18, sample). Cool climate is a wine term that implies a less alcoholic, less fruity wine, since grapes grown in a cooler region aren't supposed to get as ripe. (Whether this is true or not, given modern winemaking techniques, is a post for another day). In other words, this wasn't supposed to be a post-modern California wine.

And it isn't. Though the cool climate is not inexpensive, it is very well done. There is lots of dark fruit (plum?) and black pepper, and it's missing the sweetish, over the top fruit common to most Australian and California shirazes (syrah and shiraz being the same grape). And it's just 13 1/2 percent alcohol, which is about one point less than most shiraz-style wines.

The cool climate is not quite up to the level of the Randall Grahm syrah, which pioneered this more traditional style, but given the previously noted indifference with which so much syrah at this price is made, it's certainly worth drinking. Pair this with lighter red meat or smoked or roasted chicken.

  • http://www.winebasic101.com Alex

    Hello my name is Alex from the wine forum. I like the article. Shiraz is a good red wine because it’s not to heavy it’s more of a lighter red wine. I’v heard that cool climated produce grapes with higher sugar levels.That is why wine making is an art and science becasue there is sure a lot of science behind wine making. Climate and terrain is everything when it comes to making wine. Any other in formation I run the wine forum http://www.winebasic101.com it’s an open blog and info site and who to videos will be coming soon.

  • http://www.clinecellars.com Kathryn Nudelman

    Thanks for the thoughtful review! We actually do still make the Oakley wines. They’re just called Oakley5Reds and Oakley4Whites now. Same great juice in the bottle though.

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