This past Saturday Mike Officer of Carlisle Winery was gracious enough to host me and a guest at the winery. We tasted through almost a dozen different wines from the 2022 vintage all of which were still in barrel.
The 2022 growing season was moderate until a heat spike in early September that necessitated the quick picking of every vineyard in the Carlisle portfolio. While the picking process is normally done over a month the high temps meant bringing in all the fruit in just a couple weeks. Mike had a similar experience with heat spikes in the 2010 vintage and lost entire vineyards, however, this time his quick actions prevented such losses. Yields were down ever so slightly in 2022. Quality appears to be high.
The 2023 vintage started with a cool Spring and early Summer and as such Mike does not expect to begin harvest until almost a month later than normal. It is still too early to make conclusions about the vintage itself.
We tasted through the 2022 Sonoma County, Rossi Ranch, Pagani Ranch, Piner Olivet and Carlisle Vineyard Zinfandels. We also had the Old Hill Ranch Red Wine, Papa’s Block Syrah, Soberanes Vineyard Syrah, Two Acres, Sonoma County Syrah and Pagani Ranch Alicante Bouschet.
The Zins were exceptional and have the hallmark Carlisle traits of bright, juicy red fruits, mouth watering acidity and impeccable balance. My clear favorites in the group were the Pagani Ranch, Carlisle Vineyard and Old Hill. Although I did not take detailed notes if you need scores to inform future buying decisions think 95-96 for all of these. If you are not buying the Old Hill because it does not say Zinfandel on the label you are missing out on one of Mike’s best wines from what is arguably the best old vine “Zinfandel” vineyard in the Sonoma Valley. It is worth noting that the 2022 Sonoma County Zinfandel contains some Old Hill and rivals the stunning 2021. It remains an absolute steal at the price.
The standout of the rest of the wines was the 2022 Soberanes Vineyard Syrah. This was Mike’s first vintage with this fruit and it will be replacing the Rosella’s Vineyard Syrah. Although I will miss the Rosella’s the 2022 Soberanes might be one of the best young Syrahs Carlisle has ever made. Once again in the 95-96 point range. Trust me and add this to your order next year.
With the 2023 vintage Mike will begin working with fruit from the iconic Belloni Vineyard. Belloni was a long time favorite of mine when Ravenswood was taking the fruit. I can not wait to try this Zinfandel.
For me, Carlisle is the pinnacle of California Zinfandel. The quality, consistency and fair pricing are all really second to none and I feel incredibly fortunate to try these wines so soon after vintage.