The 2016 Carlisle Zinfandel Montafi Vineyard was the winning bottle in the June Installment of Pick My Next Bottle. The bottle was opened late, on a warm night, after a day of traveling. I did not decant the wine.
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 .
Montafi Vineyard was planted in 1926. Located farther up the eastern bench of the Laguna de Santa Rosa flood plain, bordering the Santa Rosa city limits, this vineyard is mostly Zinfandel but does contain a good amount of Alicante Bouschet and Grand Noir. Montafi made my list of Top 10 Old Vine Zinfandel Vineyards.
Crimson in color. 15% ABV. Awesome nose of red fruits, plums and spice. Medium body with exquisite acidity. Charming, fruit forward and perfectly balanced. Crisp and fresh. Cherry, raspberry liqueur, earth and pepper on the palate. The finish is exceptionally long and seamless. I’ve liked Carlisle for almost two decades now but Mike really seemed to take things to a new level starting with the ’16 vintage. Best over the next 2-4 years and absolutely delicious served at cellar temperature on a hot, sultry night in Seattle.
My rating: 95 points.
I can make an argument that Carlisle is the best Zinfandel producer in the state of California. 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 2020 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings. I also had a chance to visit Mike Officer and wrote about that in An Afternoon at Carlisle Winery.