Showing Off 100+ Years of Old-Vine Pedigree
Many of you are familiar with Matt Cline’s Contra Costa Old Vine Field Blend. After all, it’s the highest rated under-$15 American Red in Wine Access history. With (1,997) 4-star and (688) 5-star reviews, the Old Vine Field Blend has lit up the scoreboard with abandon, generating a cult-like following along the way. Today’s 2014 picks up where the 2013 left off: big, bold, and powerful; the essence of midnight. The secret lies in 100+ year-old-vines — Carignan, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Alicante, Mataro, and Malvoisie Nero — planted in low-yielding Delhi Sands of Contra Costa County. As Matt says, this 2014 “shows off 100+ years of old-vine pedigree.” Massive concentration matched with ancient-vine complexity is the standard here. Matt Cline is a man of generous spirit — although his best Old Vine Field Blend to-date is $22 from the winery, he has held the price to Wine Access clients at $13.99 per bottle. Today’s 175 cases won’t last long — recommended by the case.
When you first see the vineyards in Contra Costa, you can’t help but do a double-take. There’s no dirt, no gravel, no galets roules. Here everything is sand, nearly bleached white like in Atlantic City or Jones Beach. The ancient vines planted here got their start over a century ago when portuguese and italian immigrant families — the Spinellis, Lucchesis, Evangelhos, and Jacuzzis — rode buggies down from the old Buena Vista Winery and twisted 6-inch budwood into the shorelines of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers.
Today, Matt Cline, the grandson of Valeriano Jacuzzi, tends to these treasured parcels like his children. “These vines are a part of American history,” Cline told us over the ribeye lunch at Mac’s Old House, “They’ve seen it all.” In 2014, the veteran vines weathered the third consecutive drought year in California with ease, relying on deep roots to collect water from the sub-strata. The result was at once concentrated and opulent; bursting with black fruit, and braced by dusty tannins and scintillating acid vibrancy — call it a wine with the wisdom of the ages.