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Wine of the Week: Cline 2015 Cashmere and Cashmere Black Magic

The vineyards at Cline Family Cellars in Sonoma, California.

These two Rhône-style red blends from Sonoma County’s Cline Family Cellars not only benefit good causes, they recently provided me with a good opportunity to be an entertaining host to my parents when, having just returned from an enlightening Road Scholar trip, they stopped by more or less spur of the moment.

Along with sightseeing in the San Diego area, they’d enjoyed a wine tasting or two (they said it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t Sonoma County wine!) and were still in the travel mood for something new, so I offered them a diverting experiment involving two samples of wine I’d received from Cline Cellars, which is located in southern Sonoma County. Which would they prefer?

I’ve been a fan of Cline’s Cashmere wines for many years. Cline gives back to organizations that support breast cancer research and Alzheimer’s patient care with a percentage of sales of these wines. To date, Fred and Nancy Cline report donating over $270,000 to these causes.

I have to say, I liked the gently shouldered, Rhône-style bottle that displayed a prominent ribbon graphic on the mauve-pink label (signifying the wine’s charitable nature) better than the new, broad-shouldered Bordeaux-style packaging of the Cline 2015 Cashmere Red Blend ($23). I mean, wine is confusing enough without switching around the bottle shapes we expect. But no matter, it’s what’s in the bottle that counts — and in this bottle is a bright, cherry-fruited wine with earthy undertones of dried herbs and summer vineyard dust.

My folks, who usually enjoy modestly priced Zinfandels like Rancho Zabaco and other reds, noted these qualities, too. These are typical in wines made from the Grenache grape — but surprisingly, the variety only accounts for some 22 percent of the blend, according to the label, with 59 percent Mourvedre and 19 percent Syrah.

Since my parents were in good spirits after a small glass of the regular Cashmere, I suggested we sample the new, Cline 2015 Cashmere Black Magic Red Blend ($25). They were quite open to the suggestion.

Cashmere Black Magic bears the subtitle of an “alluring dark red blend,” to emphasize its aspiration to the currently hot category of dark red blends like Ménage à Trois Midnight, Bogle’s Phantom Red, and Apothic Dark (the wildly successful dark red blend Apothic, I gather, was not dark and red enough for some). I don’t blame a winery for following a trend — especially when it’s for a good cause!

This latest addition to the Cashmere stable shares the same list of grapes plus the Rhônish, longtime California standby, Petite Sirah, to magic-up the blend. Petite Sirah is traditionally used by Sonoma County wineries to add color and depth to Zinfandel.

While we noted that Black Magic was more robust and darkly flavored, the finish did feel a bit short for the dark red blend category, from which we expect a bit more of a sweet and plush character.

The parent test is the ultimate test, so what happened when I offered a third, “maybe just a half a glass” of wine before we dined on take-and-bake pizza? They didn’t hesitate to ask for the regular Cashmere blend.

Here’s a fall recipe that Cline offers for their Petite Sirah — I think it’d be fine with either of the Cashmere wines. These are both enjoyable red blends for the late fall season.

 


 

Eggplant Rollatini

Ingredients

4 medium eggplants

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

1 10-oz. box frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry

3 cups ricotta

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 large eggs, beaten

1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella

3/4 cup grated Parmesan

1 24-oz. jar marinara sauce

Directions

1. Slice ends off eggplants. Cut eggplants lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices.

2. Lay slices on a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle both sides liberally with salt.

3. Let stand for 15 minutes, then rinse salt off under cold running water and pat slices dry.

4. Preheat oven to 400ºF.

5. Brush both sides of eggplant slices with olive oil and place in single layers on 2 baking sheets.

6. Roast for 15 minutes, until tender, turning eggplant slices over halfway through. Let cool on sheets on wire racks until cool enough to handle.

7. In a large bowl, combine spinach, ricotta, garlic, eggs, 1/2 cup mozzarella and 1/2 cup Parmesan. Season with 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper.

8. Mist a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 1/2 cup of sauce over bottom of dish.

9. Divide ricotta mixture among eggplant slices, using about 1/3 cup for each, spreading it down the center.

10. Roll up slices and place seam-side down in baking dish. Top with remaining sauce and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.

11. Cover baking dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

12. Remove foil and bake until browned and bubbling, about 15 minutes longer.

Homemade Ricotta

8 cups whole milk

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1. Line colander with 4 layers of cheesecloth. Set in sink.

2. Bring milk and salt to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in lemon juice.

3. Let simmer until curds form, 1 to 2 minutes.

4. Using finely slotted spoon or skimmer scoop curds from pan and transfer to cheesecloth lined colander.

5. Let drain 1 minute (curds will still be a little wet). Transfer curds to medium bowl.

6. Cover and chill until cold (about 3 hours). Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

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