Bottle Notes, Zinfandel

New Releases from Carlisle Winery

Carlisle Winery & Vineyards was founded in 1998 by Mike and Kendall Officer. Their passion is clear: Small lots of Zinfandel and Syrah from exceptional, historic vineyards. Many of these vineyards are heritage sites planted by Italian immigrants and date back to the late 1800s . They have also recently added their first whites, two blends from historic, old-vine vineyards plus Sonoma County’s first ever Grüner Veltliner.

I recently had the good fortune to sample some of the wineries best single vineyard bottlings.

2013 Carlisle Zinfandel Papera Ranch – Bright crimson in color. 15.3% ABV. 96% Zinfandel and 4% Carignane from a Russian River Valley vineyard planted in 1934. Fantastic nose of brambly red fruits, kirsch and anise. Exceptional balance and acidity. Medium in body and super fresh on the palate. Flavors of raspberry liqueur, strawberries and a hint of pepper. Great finish. Drink over the next 5-7 years. Suggested retail price of $47. My rating: 95 points.

2013 Carlisle Zinfandel Carlisle Vineyard – Purple in color. 15.3% ABV. From a Russian River Valley vineyard planted in 1927. 87% Zinfandel and 13% Mixed Black and White Varieties. A total of 40 different grapes. How cool is that? Somewhat brooding nose of blue and black fruits, earth and licorice. Full bodied with mouth watering acidity. Plush and jammy on the palate. Flavors of blackberry, black cherry and cocoa. Exceptionally long finish. Drink over the next 4-6 years. Suggested retail price of $47. My rating: 93 points.

2013 Carlisle Zinfandel Pagani Ranch – Opaque purple in color. 15.8% ABV. 90% Zinfandel and 10% Mixed Blacks from a Sonoma Valley vineyard planted in 1895. Fresh nose dominated by cool blue and red fruits. Medium to full body with impeccable balance. Rich and silky on the palate. Flavors of blueberry liqueur, raspberries and just a touch of peach. The finish lingers until you are ready for another sip. Delicious Zinfandel to drink over the next 6-8 years. Suggested retail price of $46. My rating: 94 points.

It was very informative to try the 3 wines over the course of a few days. Clearly they have much in common but the differences, that can be attributed to the vineyards, rise to the surface. Consider yourself fortunate if you have any of these wines in your cellar.

Current vintages of the various Carlisle wines are available via the mailing list, which is exceptionally long. Several retail outlets in California stock Carlisle, but you need to check with them at the time the winery releases their wines in the Spring and Fall.

I’ve wrote about Carlisle previously in Winery Mailing Lists: The Fab 5 and The Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

For more on the vineyards visit the Historic Vineyard Society website.

Lastly I was very humbled to find out Mike Officer reads Zinfandel Chronicles and actually wanted to send me samples. Thank you Mike!

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2 thoughts on “New Releases from Carlisle Winery

  1. Interesting perspective. I think you are overrating the 2013 Papera, which, while tasty, lacks nuance. I would not describe it as mid weight or fresh – it is actually fairly sweet on the palate from the fruit and glycerin and is too big to compliment a lot of food. Great for a burger but not so much for proper Pizza – would rather have a Frappato, Aglianico or some similar Italian wine on most occasions. I am on the mailing list and will continue because the wines are very good but they need to be understood within their limits.

    1. Maybe I underrated…96 points from the Wine Spectator. “A killer Zin that balances sheer power with a lively structure of acidity and tannins. Floral dark berry, licorice and Asian spice aromas combine with complex, fleshy, ripe flavors of blackberry and smoky cracked pepper. Drink now through 2027”

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