Wine of the Week: Cline Mourvedre is best red wine for burgers

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT | June 27, 2016, 11:37PM

Top Pick: Cline, 2014 Contra Costa County Ancient Vines Mourvedre, 15% alcohol, $22. (★★★1/2 solo, ★★★★ with burger)

This is knockout with a burger, thanks to this Rhone red’s concentrated cherry flavors and high-toned note of cranberry. It cuts through the rich protein. Subtle flavors of plum, toast and chocolate are also at play, giving the wine layered appeal. Balanced, with good acidity. Nice length. A smart burger pick.

A burger is at its best with a sassy wine, one that’s tangy and bright enough to cut through the rich protein in a puck of beef.

With an eye to the Fourth of July, we scouted for the best burger reds to set you up for the holiday. We found tasty options, with our wine-of-the-week winner the ultimate of sassy – the Cline, 2014 Contra Costa County Ancient Vines Mourvedre at $22.

This Rhone red’s concentrated cherry flavors, and high-toned note of cranberry, makes it a great match for burgers. Subtle flavors of plum, toast and chocolate are also at play, giving the wine layered appeal. It’s balanced, with good acidity, and has nice length. It’s a smart burger pick, scoring 4 stars with the burger, and 3.5 stars solo.

Winemaker Charlie Tsegeletos said he has a certain house style he’s intent on crafting by relying on old vines that date back to the early 1900s.

“Our mourvedre is big in body, with lots of cherry flavor, nicely oaked, but not overwhelming,” he said.

Tsegeletos is the director of winemaking for Sonoma’s Cline Family Cellars and Jacuzzi Family Vineyards. He said what makes him a great fit to be a winemaker is that he fancies wine.

“I like to drink wine and pay attention to what it is that I like in wines specifically,” he said. “I have a mental check list of twelve different tastes and aromas that need to be in balance to make good wine. Fruit, acid, sugar and oak are four of them…”

The winemaker said he isn’t swayed by pricey wines, but rather by well-crafted wines.

“I don’t do ‘wine snob’ very well. The wine might have a great lineage but if it isn’t good, I’d rather drink a well-made $15 bottle,” Tsegeletos said.

The winemaker, 59, has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Agriculture Science and Management from U.C. Davis. He said he was drawn to winemaking after tasting a glass of Charles Krug Reserve Cabernet, vintage 1974.

“It turned my head as to how good a wine could taste and made me think, ‘I really like this stuff!’”

Tsegeletos said winemaking also appealed to him because he likes working on mechanical things.

Of course, at the end of the day, Tsegeletos said what’s most gratifying is pouring a glass for someone who has never tasted mourvedre before.

For the uninitiated, he said the exotic red was originally a Spanish varietal and made its way to America in the1900s.

“They might not know how to pronounce it and they might not remember it, but when they taste it, they love it.”