Buying Wine

Making Sense of the Carlisle Mailer

2005 Carlisle Russian River Valley Zin

With the arrival late last week of the Carlisle mailer so began the semi annual struggle of deciding what wines to buy from one of my very favorite producers. It seems that the number of wines available grows with each release making the decision all the more problematic. This particular mailer included a dozen different wines. Pretty convenient if you want to buy a mixed case containing a single bottle of each. Not so convenient if you don’t plan on buying a case or would like to have multiple bottles of some of your favorite bottlings.

Below is how I would approach the mailer at different bottle increments.


  • 3 bottles – For me, Carlisle if first and foremost a Zinfandel producer. If I was going to limit myself to 3 bottles I would go with the vineyards that literally represent California wine history in a glass: Pagani, Hayne and Papera. All 3 of these vineyards scored high when I ranked my Top 10 Old Vine Zinfandel Vineyards.
  • 6 bottles – If I were able to add 3 more bottles to the 3 above I would include the James Berry Vineyard Syrah, Limerick Lane Zinfandel and Carlisle Vineyard Zinfandel. The James Berry Vineyard is one of the premier Syrah sites in the entire state. The wine itself is comparable to Syrahs from Saxum and Lillian at a fraction of the price. Limerick Lane is a new vineyard source for Carlisle with this vintage. I first started drinking the Limerick Lane Zins back in the 1990’s and can’t wait to see what Mike Officer can do with this fruit. For my 6th bottle I am giving a very slight edge to the Carlisle Vineyard Zinfandel over the Bedrock Vineyard Zinfandel. Nothing scientific here but my heart tells me that there is just a little extra care and attention that goes into wine made from the grapes you own.
  • 9 bottles – The last 3 bottles I would add to my order would be the Bedrock Vineyard Zinfandel, Saitone Ranch Zinfandel and the Two Acres blend. Bedrock Vineyard is a great site farmed by one of my favorite winemakers. Saitone Ranch made one of my favorite Zins from the 2011 Carlisle lineup and is situated nearby other favorite vineyards including the aforementioned Papera and Carlisle. Two acres is a Mourvedre dominant blend that Carlisle has produced since the very beginning. This wine might be the most age worthy in the entire Carlisle lineup.

It just goes to show how strong this offering is when the wines that did not make the cut are all exceptional: the Bedrock Vineyard Mourvedre, Rosella’s Vineyard Syrah and The Derivative white blend. As the saying goes picking wines on the mailer is like picking your favorite child. This is one of those rare mailers where it is hard to go wrong. Exceptional wines at exceptional prices. My advice…buy all you can afford.

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2 thoughts on “Making Sense of the Carlisle Mailer

  1. This would have been a great article to read before I placed my first order on Sunday. Being my first time having an allocation, I couldn’t make my mind up so I ordered one of each and extra Papera and Carlisle. I wasn’t allocated any of the Hayne or Limerick Lane so I wish listed them. It seems the more I read about Carlise, the more common the theme of “buy all you can afford, and then some.” Then to think a few days later I got the Bedrock save the date email…..Oh boy..

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