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Wine Review: Good wine doesn’t have to break the bank

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Not all wine producers are created equal.

Current standard industry policy seems to be increasing the price of wine with each vintage. However, some producers steadily put out better-than-average wines while resisting price increases.

One such winery is Cline Cellars; it’s about time someone sounded the trumpet for them. So allow me: toot toot. Cline’s latest vintage of its most popular varieties has just been released and, as is their custom, the wines are all in the affordable price range.
Cline 2016 Sonoma Coast Pinot Gris ($15)
Just for clarification, pinot gris and pinot grigio are the exact same grape. The pinot gris is the French Alsatian version of the variety while the pinot grigio is native to northeastern Italy. An Alsatian pinot gris often is slightly sweet but this Californian has been made dry and is a good example of why this variety’s popularity is growing so rapidly.

The Cline 2016 Sonoma Coast Pinot Gris displays a pale golden color and a rich aroma of citrus and honeysuckle. The flavor is laced with the sensation of pear and melon that carry over to the finish, which is both long and enjoyable. This delightful wine has been made without any oak finishing so as to accentuate the fruit possibilities of the finished wine. This wine that can accompany a broad spectrum of dishes but will shine with seafood of any type.
Cline 2015 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($17)
A quality pinot noir at this price is almost unknown, but Cline Cellars has done it. This wine is a gem and from a pinot noir lover, that’s quite a statement.

The Cline 2015 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir offers everything that has singled out the great pinot noirs of the past: an inviting ruby color, a firm body, a captivating aroma, a positive and definable flavor, and a long, enduring finish, all wrapped in a smooth, velvet-like robe. The aroma displays fig, cranberry, cinnamon, nutmeg and oak. The flavor is about as classical as it can get with black cherry, caramel, spice and a subtle hint of truffles. All of these carry over to the finish where they linger on the palate for a long time.
Cline 2015 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay ($15)
At last, a chardonnay that loudly and boldly screams its heritage of Sonoma County, California. To begin with, this wine is not one of those boring chardonnays. It is a wine in which the fruit is boldly expressed in both the aroma and flavor. The grapes have been selected from vineyards that are located on the Sonoma coast, an area that is blessed with a cool morning fog and warm daytime temperatures.

The aroma of this wine stresses a floral note featuring orange blossom and jasmine, coupled with a melange of tropical fruits and a great deal of citrus. The citrus and tropical fruits carry over into the flavor where they merge with oak and vanilla. The finish rounds off this cornucopia of flavor by presenting soft tropical fruits and citrus wrapped in a creamy silky mouth feel, a trait found only in better chardonnays.

Wine columnist Bennett Bodenstein can be reached at

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