Cashmere Red Blend 2016, California
Cost: $22-24
S ometime a good deed for charity can turn out to benefit the recipient and the good Samaritan.
That’s what happened to Fred and Nancy Cline after they donated a special half barrel of wine to the Hospice du Rhone.
The Clines were part of the original Rhone Rangers who shared a passion for grenache, syrah, mourvedre and other Rhone varietals. For a 1998 charity auction at Hospice du Rhone they created a GSM blend that was popular and brought in large bids.
Now the wine known as Cashmere is one of Cline’s most popular red blends.
There is a good reason for the popularity. It is smooth and easy to drink. It’s versatile, pairing with many dishes. And it’s a great price for a wine like this.
It is a gorgeous deep ruby in the glass, with spicy aromas of cherry and vanilla. On the palate are cherry and plum flavors with peppery notes. The medium-body wine has a velvety mouthfeel and a long finish.
The 2016 blend is 61 percent mourvedre, 22 percent grenache and 17 percent syrah. The grapes could come from anywhere in California, but often they come from the Central Coast region.
Individual lots of grapes are harvested separately based on ripeness and balance of acidity. After destemming and a gentle crush to preserve whole berries, fermentation occurs at controlled temperatures in stainless steel. The winemaking team tastes the potential lots of wine that could go into the final blend before creating this elegant wine. The wine spent eight months aging in oak barrels.
Winemakers usually like creating blends because it gives them more to work with. They can pick the best characteristics from each lot to balance out the whole. They did an outstanding job of creating this blend.
The blend varies from year to year, depending on how the grapes develop. The 2017 vintage is 58 percent mourvedre, 29 percent grenache and 13 percent syrah.
Winery: Fred and Nancy Cline met when they were students at UC-Davis. They married and used Fred’s inheritance to start a small winery in Oakley in 1982.
Even then they loved Rhone-style varietals and restored some 100-year-old vines to make Rhone-style varietals such as mourvedre, roussanne, carignane, viognier and marsanne. They also planted zinfandel, which became a wine they were known for while other growers were planting cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay.
They continued to grow and moved the winery to a 350-acre ranch in Carneros in Sonoma County in 1993. They opened a tasting room in an 1853 farmhouse and the site of the 21st and final Spanish California mission. The winery offers several tasting opportunities and an interesting gift shop.
Cline uses insects and animals instead of chemicals for pest and weed control. They practice sustainable farming and have run their entire operation on solar power. They replaced their solar panels last year after problems developed with their original system.
Though they are known for their great Rhone varietals, the Clines offer a wide variety of wines at a range of prices.
In 2004, Cline Cellars was named one of Wine Spectator’s 50 great producers every wine lover should know. 
Both Clines come from longtime California families. Fred became fascinated with wine when his immigrant grandfather Valeriano Jacuzzi showed him how to turn grapes into wine. (Yes, he was one of the brothers from the famed spa family.)
Today the Clines own property throughout Sonoma County, in Oakley/Contra Costa and Tehama County.
The tasting room offers a variety of tasting options as well as carp ponds, gardens, and picnic areas. The California Missions Museum features a collection of scale-model replicas of each California mission.
After these models first made their debut in 1939 at the World’s Fair at Treasure Island, the Cline family saved them from being auctioned off individually and built the museum in 2005 to properly showcase them.
Goes with: I don’t normally recommend a wine like this with seafood, but I think I found the exception to the rule. We bought some lobster ravioli during our last stop at Trader Joe’s, and it was delicious.
We stopped at the Trader Joe’s in Athens on our way back home from a Thanksgiving stay in the Georgia mountains with family. We rented a house near Blue Ridge with Teri’s daughters and their families. We cooked a lot and had some great meals.
So we were looking for something lighter when we got back home. The fresh ravioli with Trader Joe’s basil tomato marinara was perfect. The lush sauce was a great match for the velvety Cashmere, and the ravioli had a great flavor. One package of the ravioli was enough to feed both of us.
Usually you would serve this wine with heavier meals, such as red meat, hearty pasta dishes, goulash and beef stew. But our dinner proved to me this wine would also be good with lighter fare such as chicken on the grill, or a lighter soup or something like an eggplant parmigiana.
If you have questions about wine you can email Dennis Sodomka at

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