When was the last time you had a glass of Carignane? If the answer is that you never have, I’m not surprised. More often than not, this varietal ends up blended with other grapes. Sometimes it’s a serious player in an overall blend, other times it plays a supporting role in a varietal wine of another type. On occasion it’s bottled by its lonesome and the results do vary, but when the conditions and the winemaking are right a lovely wine can result. Today I’ll look at Cline Cellars varietal bottling of Carignane. The Cline Cellars 2008 Ancient Vines Carignane was sourced from vines in Contra Costa County. Many of the vineyard sites used feature vines with over 100 years of age on them. Fermentation occurred in stainless steel. Barrel aging occurred over 6 months in French oak; 35% of the barrels were new. The suggested retail price for this wine is $16.
Aromas of bramble, thyme and vanilla lead the charge in the nose of this 2008 Carignane. Crushed cherry and blackberry flavors are prominent in the flavorfully fruity and somewhat brooding palate of this wine. Towards the back of the palate plum pudding spices emerge. They lead to a memorable finish that includes dark, sweet chocolate, earth and black pepper notes in copious quantities. Rock solid acidity keeps everything in check here. This wine is perfectly suited to pair with a dish of pasta, a platter of ribs or a smoked meat sandwich, to name but a few. It’s tasty on its own but it excels when paired with food.
If you drink Zinfandel or Syrah based wines a lot, give this Carignane a shot to try something different. You’ll find some of the characters each of those varietals typically exhibit as well as a host of others. For $16 this wine offers a lot of flavor and quality. The Cline Cellars 2008 Ancient Vines Carignane represents a solid value.