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Clif Family Does Wine Right

I dare say there is not an adult in this country that has not eaten a Clif Bar at some point in their life. Thanks to the success of those bars, Clif Family has also ventured into winemaking in Napa Valley. And like anything that they do, they do it incredibly well, and they go big. Many successful wineries in Napa may offer five wines. At Clif Family, I counted 24 on their website. As I said, they go BIG.Clif Family

Clif Family Winery On A Whim

During my May of 2018 trip to Napa, we made a last-minute stop at the Clif Family Tasting Room in St. Helena, CA. Gary and I were being guided by our dear friend, Amber Burke from Wine Travel Eats. They were not on our original itinerary, but Amber kept mentioning how great they were. We had a winery cancelation happen, so we had some extra time. I asked Amber, “could they squeeze us in?” We called and gave them a five-minute warning. They said come on in. Minutes later, we were greeted with sincerely and warmth and spent several hours talking and tasting a variety of the wines they sell.Clif Family

Food in a Tasting Room in Napa? Well, yes, there is if you are clever. Napa has a silly rule that tasting rooms can not make and serve food (there are a few that were grandfathered in). The way that Clif Family got around the ordinance was to park a food truck outside on the curb. Since they prepare it “off-premise,” they are allowing it.
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Delicious Arancini.
Clif Family
Mushroom Arugula Flatbread
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Gary enjoying the Rosé of Grenache

Clif Family Wine Club

As you know from previous posts, Gary and I do not always enjoy the same wines. But as we tasted through their selections, we were in sync 99% of the time. That is a rare feat, and as such this was the only wine club, we joined on that trip. We also placed a large order to be shipped home because our wine luggage was already filled to the max. And still today, we remain club members and continue to enjoy the deliveries we get each season. While they have several clubs with options galore, we get two bottles and one food item per shipment six times per year at the club price as well as 20% off any additional purchases we make in addition to the club.

Clif Family Wines We Enjoy

As I said, they make a variety of wine. Here are some tasting notes that I hope will entice you to visit Clif Family on your next trip to Napa or just go to the website and place an order.

2017 Chardonnay Napa Valley

Last night, I opened the 2017 Clif Family Chardonnay made with fruit from the Oak Knoll District at the south end of Napa Valley. Upon my first sip, I remembered how much I love the wine. Chardonnay is a challenge for me because I am not a fan of the heavy-handedness of some winemakers being overly oaked and buttered. Clif Family, on the other hand, makes a beautiful, balanced Chardonnay.  I will want to order more of this wine with once of my future shipments.

The Taste

The wine is a clear, pale yellow. The nose presents with a blended aroma of both yellow apple and pear with a back note of vanilla. The nose has a luxuriousness to it. Upon the first sip that luxury translates to the mouthfeel followed by a hint of tartness and lingering juicy acidity.

The oak is mellow and balanced well with the fruit on the palate. I tasted ripe, juicy pear and fresh apricots. As the wine warmed slightly in the glass tropical notes of star fruit and mango comes through. I love the roundness and the complexity of flavors of this wine. The finish stays with you until you crave another sip.

13.9% abv. They made 835 cases of this wine. I imagine it will sell out fairly quickly.

2016 Gary’s Improv Zinfandel Howell Mountain, Napa Valley

This wine is true to the varietal with luscious fruit and soft tannins. The day we opened this bottle, we were with friends Bryan and Craig. The moment this wine hit my lips, I knew that Bryan was going to fall hard for this wine. This wine matches his red wine profile to a “T.” I was not wrong, and quickly, the bottle was gone. He asked if we had a second bottle; which we did not. You could see the joy leave his face.

So I said, “You know we can always order more.” I barely got it out of my mouth, and he said, “Yes, lets split a case. That way, we will have it on hand no matter whose house we are “wine-ing.”

And that was it. We still have two bottles that I am sure will be consumed in October, and we got a bottle of the 2017 vintage in one of our club shipments. I will be interested in comparing the two but will wait for a time when Bryan is in Charleston, of course.

I apologize that I do not have tasting notes for this wine. We were too busy enjoying it that I never got around to sitting down with it to parse it out. I just enjoyed it.

2017 Sauvignon Blanc

Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley

As I made my journey into white wines back in 2016, like with Chardonnay, I was not a big fan of Sauvignon Blanc.  Citrus bombs, Grapefruit overkill, and Gooseberry sour (also known as cat pee) were what I was tasting. Some were ok, but I did not like it enough to venture further.

I know that there must be Sav. Blancs out there that will satisfy my profile, so I jumped to the $20 to $30 range and, like magic, I found a style of Sauvignon Blanc wines that I truly enjoyed. The trip to Napa also introduced me to several that I genuinely enjoyed. And now Clif Family is one of my faves.

The Taste of Clif Family

This wine shows the classic pale color of light straw. The mouthfeel and medium body were inticing, and much more that I expected. This wine is a perfect food wine as it will hold its own during the meal. Additionally, the acidity is pleasing and powerful enough to cut through a cream sauce or butter sauce like shrimp scampi or an alfredo. It would also work great with a charcuterie platter with cured fatty meats.

The nose is mostly generic citrus and very clean. But the palate is layered with tart Granny Smith Apple and Lemon peel. I love the great balance of this wine. The finish starts with a pop of acid and then lingers as it should.

clif family2017 Rosé of Grenache from Mendocino

While Clif Family has four estate vineyards from which many of the wines are made, they also partner with other growers in Mendocino County and Napa Valley to complete their portfolio of wine. Their Rosé of Grenache is one of those partnerships.

We brought I think 18 bottles of this wine back from the Napa trip we liked it so much.

The wine is a very pale coral. You can smell the brightness of this wine in its citrusy nose. There is a mellow hint of ruby red grapefruit on the palate that lands on the back of your tongue after much more present notes of tart green apple, early strawberries and spring raspberries.

This is a brunch wine. It will pair perfectly with Eggs Benedict and a side of chewy, fatty bacon. It will also carry the weight of an afternoon summer cocktail wine.

Clif Family Wines waiting to be opened
or consumed and just enjoyed

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Bici White 2017 is a Rhône-style blend. This wine was in one of the club shipments.
The 2016 Viognier was a hit for me as I love perfumy white wines with some texture.
The 2017 Bici Red Phône blend (R) is a club shipment that is waiting for us to open. The 2017 Grenache (L) is also a recent arrival that I look forward to drinking this fall.
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These four are all new additions. From the left, 2016 Petite Syrah, 2017 RTE Bordeaux White Blend, the 2017 Gary’s Improv Zinfandel (that I cannot wait to open) and the 2018 Oak Knoll District Sauvignon Blanc.

Clif Family is a must stop winery for anyone that thinks variety is the spice of life. Napa is so Cabernet Sauvignon centric, Clif Family is a pleasant oasis in that sea of Cab.

That is all for now.





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