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Cline Ancient Vine Mourvedre 2006. Help!

This is our first full Mourvedre (and may be our last). I've loved Cline wines and thought, with the high Bevmo rating, that this would be an exciting new one to try. But the first sniff was so disgusting, I thought the bottle was bad. The nose was sulfurous, like bad eggs, and was so off-putting, tasting the wine was impossible. So I decanted it. Sloshed it. Beat it with a stick. Yelled at it. The ugly nose retreated just a bit but drinking the wine was, by this time, little more than an experiment in torture. Is this a characteristic Mourvedre? Is the wine too young? Or was this a bad bottle? I mean, I love funky bouquets. Cat piss works for me as does dirty arm pits. But not sulfur.

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  1. Shit happens.
    I've had some -very few- bottles from other wineries that fit what you describe.
    More knowledgeable posters will be able to describe accurately.
    Try another bottle.

    1. It's one of my fav varieties. That's just a bad bottle, I think. Can't say anything about that particular 2006 mourvedre, but like you, I've generally enjoyed Cline wines, and I believe they own (or access) one of the oldest mourvedre vinyards in California. Back in the day, I believe it was a key component to the early versions of Bonny Doon's Flying Cigar blends.

      For a different take on the variety, try some of the Spanish monastrells - which is the same grape by a different name. Castano from Yecla is consistently good, and I love Juan Gil from Jumilla.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Ed Dibble

        I had enjoyed other wines in which the grape was part of the blend. My husb. believes that the Mourvedre/Monastrell may just have that odd sulfuric component on its own and needs other grapes to tame it.

        1. re: pickypicky

          2004 Clos St Michel Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Reservee Grand Clos (100% Mourvedre)

          A Mourvedre Dry Red Table wine from Chateauneuf du Pape, Southern Rhone, Rhone, France

          Source : Wine Advocate # 169 Feb 2007
          Reviewer :Robert Parker
          Rating : 93
          Maturity :Drink: 2009 - 2029
          Current (Release) Cost : $55 (55)

          The 100% Mourvedre cuvee has more in keeping with a great Bandol than a Chateauneuf du Pape. A pretty amazing wine, especially in this year, the 2004 Chateauneuf du Pape Grand Clos is, to my knowledge, the only 100% Mourvedre wine made in Chateauneuf du Pape. With surprising finesse and elegance for a wine made from this varietal, the wine has a dense bluish/purple color and a big, sweet nose of blueberries, damp earth, and spring flowers. It is deep, tannic, medium to full-bodied, backward, and rich, yet the purity, overall texture and balance are impeccable. Give this wine 2-3 years of cellaring and drink it over the following two decades.

          A new generation of Moussets has taken over and is certainly making better wines than ever. Moreover, this is another estate where the price points for the Cotes du Rhones and Chateauneuf du Papes have been extremely fair for the high quality in the bottle. As I stated last year, Mousset’s 2004s turned out much better than the rather challenging 2003s but are wines that are probably best drunk early on, except for their 100% Mourvedre cuvee, the Grand Clos Chateauneuf du Pape.

          Importer: W. J. Deutsch and Sons, Ltd., White Plains, NY; tel. (914) 251-9463

          Copyright © The Wine Advocate, Inc
          posted with permission of eRobertParker.com

          1. re: pickypicky

            There are many good 100% Mouvedres/Monastrells - Bodegas Castano and Vinos Sin Ley come to mind. I've had prior vintages of the Cline which have been good, but haven't tried it recently.

        2. That's definitely a bad bottle. I've had this wine on a few occasions and sulfur and bad eggs are certainly not what should be on the nose.

          1. Redemption! The story continues. Two days after opening, the stink is gone, and the wine is AMAZING. Chocolate, coffee, berry. A more exciting, full ,and chewy mouthful than I've had in a long long time. THe mystery of wine is part of the allure. . . Perhaps it was too young. Perhaps it had a traumatic childhood.. But if I had the means I would buy at least one bottle and hide it for a few years.

            3 Replies
            1. re: pickypicky

              Hi Pickypicky:

              A slight unpleasant smell is a characteristic of Mourvedre as a variety.
              Ignore it. It is a great grape variety! The top of the line mourvdre at
              Cline is their Small Berry Mourvedre. It is rather pricy, but a great
              wine. Together with Tablas Creek, they are one of the few Mourvedre
              producers in CA that can compete head to head against top
              French Bandols, among which my two top favorite are
              Domaine Tempier and Domaine de La Bastide Blanche.

              Other decent Mourvedre producers in the CA Sierra Foothills
              include Holly's Hill (particularly their reserve), Sierra Vista,
              and Lava Cap. I am sure there are also quite a few in the
              Paso Robles and Santa Barbara area.

              1. re: bclevy

                Thanks! I saw the Tablas Creek and may try it next.

                1. re: pickypicky

                  according to the Tablas Creek website
                  . The animal, game-like flavors present in young Mourvèdres can be so strong that they are occasionally mistaken for the bacteria Brettanomyces. In a well-made Mourvèdre, these flavors should resolve into aromas of forest floor and leather with aging

                  So maybe you just need to try an older vintage.

            2. No, it's not characteristic of the grape.

              it is characteristic of hydrogen sulfide contamination/ side effect.

              This can be caused by too much sulfites, lack of proper nutrients during fermentation, yeast combining with various forms of sulfur , even bacterial contamination.

              Look for wines from the Bandol region.

              "if I had the means I would buy at least one bottle and hide it for a few years."

              This is a sub-$15 bottle of wine we're talking about. Even I would have the means to buy a second bottle.

              1 Reply
              1. re: FrankJBN

                The means to lay by and forget a bottle; not to not buy it in the first place. So FrankJBN, how do you explain the wine's seeming turnaround? Or did it not turnaround and just seemed an improvement over what it opened up as?

                Based on what the Cline eventually became, I would try it again. Or maybe I should try a straight mourvedre from the Bandol.

              2. Cline gets their mourvedre from Contra Costa County, which notoriously has a Brettanomyces problem. Can you recognize bret in the wine? I wonder if they might have pumped in extra sulfur to try to combat it.

                2 Replies
                1. re: SteveTimko

                  It's a winemaking error, no matter what.

                  Either inattentiveness, or ignoring a problem early on in the ferm and not treating it, or even sanitation errors.

                  1. re: SteveTimko

                    What is bret? How would I notice? I had thought the sulfur nose had dissipated, but after 3 days it was still there. It was so horrible on first opening, that everything in me said DO NOT DRINK. I've never-- in 30 years of tasting and more than a few bad bottles-- smelled anything that bad.

                  2. Just read a bit on bret on wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brettano...

                    Very interesting. . . thanks so much for this.

                    1. I had that wine at a restaurant recently (can't recall the vintage) but was struck by the nose of the wine (it smelled of rotten lettuce to me). The wine tasted fine but the aroma was so odd and unpleasant I would be unlikely to choose it in the future.

                      1. I agree with others that have replied: I believe you got a bad bottle. My wife and I and another couple enjoyed two bottles of the '06 with dinner last Saturday night. I will look for a case of it! The wine list described the wine as "chocolate over cherries". I agreed with the description completely. Give it anothe whirl! Good luck.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: luke6019

                          Since we are on the topic of Mourvedre, I received last week
                          a shipment of Matt Cline's Three 2007 Spinelli Mataro. It is
                          a great mourvedre (may be even better than Cline's Small
                          Berry Mourvedre) at a very reasonable price (low $20s).

                        2. Mourvedre is one of my favorites. The first Big Kid bottle of wine I bought to lay down was a mourvedre for a reason. You had a lousy one. Go snag yourself a bottle of French magic!