We first met Matt Cline in the late 1980s, around the time he began making wine at Cline Cellars. Always fascinated by his family's history--his grandfather Valeriano Jacuzzi planted some of Contra Costa County's first grapevines, near the town of Oakley--Matt decided to poke around in his "backyard" when sourcing grapes for his wine. He discovered that his grandfather's 30 acres, as well as hundreds more planted by other immigrant families, were virtually intact--and largely undiscovered by other North Coast wineries.
Often using these superb old vines, Matt quickly earned a reputation for producing incredibly powerful and concentrated Zinfandel, Mataro, and Carignan from vineyards that produced less than two tons per acre. For most of the 1980s and 1990s, Matt's wines at Cline Cellars set the standard for Zinfandel and southern Rhone varieties in California.
In 2001, Cline Cellars's production topped 300,000 cases and Matt realized that he was spending less time in his beloved vineyards and more time making huge cuvees. He decided that enough was enough--that same year, Matt and his wife, Erin, decided to launch Trinitas Cellars.
The Highway 88 Ranch on the southeast side of Lodi is the source of grapes for Trinitas's Old Vine Petite Sirah. The vineyard consists of multiple soil types, ranging from sandy loam to clay. That said, the vineyards are mostly comprised of Hamford sandy loam and Greenfield sandy loam, which Matt described as "similar to beach sand." Full of eutypa dieback ("dead arm disease") and weeds, this is the ugliest vineyard that Matt makes wine from. However, with vines over 50 years old, this vineyard also produces some of the highest quality Petite Sirah in California.
The 2003 vintage has been labeled by many as an inconsistent year, but those who were patient reaped the benefits. The growing season was delayed by a cold, wet April that caused inconsistent berry formation in some sites. The summer months were a rollercoaster of hot and cold temperatures, and on September 3rd a spectacular storm shook Northern California. The storm was followed by severe heat in mid-September, and for the finale, normal warm weather returned, helping bring about the flavors, colors, and ripeness that winemaker's desire. In other words, despite such a nail-biting growing season, the 2003 vintage was a success with ripe bright flavor and supple tannins.
An opaque black ruby color foreshadows this wine's exceptional concentration. The bouquet is characterized by blackberries, blueberries, and boysenberries as well as an earthy elegance. Big, ripe tannins balance the richness without being astringent, and the result is a mouth feel that is so long it's almost permanent. Enjoy this wine with rack of lamb, duck confit, brazed beef, or osso buco. Drink now-2016.