2010 Three Wine Company Mataro Spinelli Vineyard
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Spinelli Vineyard 125-Year-Old Vines … and Keeping You Out Of Charlie's Place

How many members were shut out of Matt Cline's 2010 "Old Vines Field Blend?" Google Analytics tells us that 117 members clicked the buy button on Tuesday's email only to hit a SOLD OUT message in our shopping cart. Grrrrr.

Some sites, we're told, think this is "great marketing," as it keeps customers hungry. What BS. If we were members of an online service like this one, and spent 15 minutes reading a 1,000 word rant about a wine, then clicked BUY, only to be shut out … first we'd send a nasty email to customer service. Then, we'd hustle out the front door, making a beeline for the local liquor store to see what Charlie was hawking.

Unless … that service came right back with a heartfelt apology (SORRY!!) and a follow-up like this one.

Matt's "Old Vines Field Blend," from a 2010 vintage that would be the finest and coolest in 30 years, is an assemblage of hundred-year-old vine Zinfandel, Carignane and Cinsault. But the rarest, and most exquisite, component of the blend is drawn from the last handful of acres, planted two full decades before the San Francisco earthquake of 1906!

In November 1885, a couple of Portuguese immigrant families apparently made their way from the harbor (and their day jobs) to Sonoma where they would collect vineyard cuttings from the Haraszthys' old Buena Vista estate. Careful to keep the canes damp, they then made a U-turn, heading back south en route to the sand dunes of Oakley.

It's unclear if the grape growers from Oporto really knew the variety from which those canes had been cut. But as they dug thousands of holes in a 9' x 10' lattice, planting those canes into moist sand, perhaps unwittingly, they'd be laying the groundwork for the most exquisitely concentrated, aromatically sophisticated, 125-year-old single-vineyard red in California.

In Spain and Portugal, they called the variety Mataro. But, on the fine sand of Bandol in the south of France, it's more famously known as Mourvedre.

One morning, seven years ago, Matt Cline awoke after a night of insomnia. He chugged black coffee and jumped into his truck, blowing off his wife Erin's bacon and eggs. The drive from Napa to Oakley was gut-wrenching, but not because Matt's stomach was empty. By the time he came to the "Spinelli Vineyard" from which both he and Paul Draper up at Ridge Vineyards had crafted some of the most astonishing Mourvedre this side of Domaine Tempier, the John Deeres were roaring. Within a few hours, most of the century-old vines had been ripped from the sand, soon to be replaced by low-income housing!

Eighty percent of the vineyard was decimated. Matt quickly locked up that which was spared, the lion's share of which goes into this breathtaking 2010 masterpiece that will keep you from trotting back down to Charlie's place.

Harvested on September 18 -- the latest harvest date Cline can recall -- each chest high, head-trained plant eked out marvelously juicy, small berry clusters, free of raisins or any sign of desiccation.

Deep, deep purple in color, with stunning aromas of crushed red fruits, raspberry liqueur, sweet thyme and underbrush. Massively concentrated on the attack, but true to its high-toned varietal character, marvelously light on its feet, the core is packed with raspberries and dark plum, a little black cherry and plenty of violets -- the low pH finish (just 3.4!) speaks volumes to the 1885 planting and those Delhi sand dunes.

Tasting Notes

2010 Three Wine Company Mataro Spinelli Vineyard
"Deepest purple. Exotic aromas of crushed red fruits, raspberry liqueur, thyme and underbrush. Dense, chewy and massively concentrated on the attack, packed with raspberries, dark plum and black cherries, still perfectly light on its feet -- speaking volumes to these incredible 125-year-old plants and the textbook low pH vibrancy of the variety. Drink now for its primary fruit hedonism, but don't be afraid to lay this one down for 10-15 years."
-- WineAccess Travel Log

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