RETURN TO THE REVIEW
In between harvesting grapes and crushing them, Matt Cline was kind enough to respond to some questions about his wonder wine by e-mail. A real family business and no mistake.
1) One wine, ten grapes. Are you mad?
Matt Cline: Psychotic. Many of the varietals that go into the Vin Blanc blend are from very small lots and there would not be enough to produce and we would charge you more money. We would just end up selling it out of the tasting room and then I would be really psychotic because I would have to make ten wines and not one.
2) Red Châteauneuf du Pape du Pape allows for up to 13 grapes. Do you know of
another white wine that has as many different grapes as Côtes d'Oakley?
MC: Gallo Chablis. (Ha! Very witty, Matt.)
3) Most of the grapes in this blend sell for a lot more in their individual bottlings. So how comes you spend all this time blending and still sell it cheaper than its individual parts. Were these grapes not good enough to go into their own bottles?
Sure some are worth bottling alone but please refer to answer #1. Cline Cellars likes to price fairly but I would be more than happy to take more money from anyone who is willing.
4) But seriously, why is Côtes d'Oakley so darned cheap? With 1142 cases, it's hardly a mass production wine. You must make at least 10 times that of your Zinfandels and Syrah, and they still sell for a couple of bucks more.
MC: Actually we made over 9,000 cases of the 1999 vin blanc which is only 10x less than our Cal Zin and 2 1/2x only less then the Cal Syrah. It is just a fun, easy going drinking wine and is made to be consumed by the time I finish answering all your questions.
5) Côtes d'Oakley would appear to be a take on Côtes du Rhône, Côtes du Luberon, Côtes du Provence and so on. But I know those places. Where's Oakley, assuming it exists?
MC: Oakley is real. It is a small town located at the apex of the bay. I know
you said to keep it brief but here's some info about Oakley...
6) Wine Spectator rated your 1998 Côtes D'Oakley a whopping 89 points, above
what it rated your more expensive individual bottlings of Roussanne and
Marsanne. Is this vindication for Côtes d'Oakley or a kick in the teeth for
your estate bottlings?
MC: Wine Spectator is the Wine Spectator, no not a kick in the teeth. Happy when we get great reviews because it sells but a so-so review does not kill us and I do not lose too much sleep over this.
7) The wine's composition changes from year to year. Are you still striving for the perfect blend or do you just make use of what's available.
8) I see that in a previous vintage you had Chenin Blanc and Malvasia Blanc. Any reason you couldn't still have them in the mix? I mean, would we really notice the difference?
MC: We try to make a consistent wine year to year. Malvasia Blanc will be in the mix in future bottlings. Do not get the Chenin Blanc anymore. No big difference maybe losing some of the floral but not too many will be able to tell. The Pinot Gris will make up for this.
9) Some of the components of Côtes d'Oakley - Palomino, Chardonnay and
Semillon among them - you don't appear to sell in individual bottlings? Why
not? Are these your own grapes or do you buy them in?
MC: Most are Cline Cellars grapes that are coming into production now, and some were grapes purchased in the past. Refer back to #1 for re: individual bottling
10) Blending wine seems a lot more fun than farming grapes. If I was to buy all your different white wines and blend them together, would I be able to get close to the taste of Côtes d'Oakley?
MC: Never thought I would get through the list...