| 2007 PAPERA RANCH ZINFANDEL
Carlisle’s 2007 Papera Ranch Zinfandel makes me giddy with joy over its history, its provenance, and mostly, its TASTE. If Zinfandel vineyards were to have designations similar to the French, you could easily make a case for calling Papera Ranch Grand Cru, baby! The historic Papera Ranch, located within the Russian River Valley appellation on the eastern side of the Laguna de Santa Rosa, was planted by Charley Papera in 1934. It is from Charley’s original field blend planting in an area designated as “Block 6” that winemaker Mike Officer gets the fruit for this mind-blowing Zinfandel. 95% Zinfandel with the rest a mix of black varietals like Alicante Bouschet and Petite Sirah, the 2007 Papera Ranch Zinfandel demonstrates the complex flavors that old-vine, dry-farmed vineyards can produce. Without good fruit, you can’t make good wine. I don’t think anyone would dispute this claim. However, only the best fruit in the right hands can make magic in a bottle. Mike Officer makes magic. As he’s done before, if I asked Mike he would painstakingly walk me through all the steps taken from grape to bottle. I would likely, as before, listen intently, hanging on every word as if there were a secret about to be revealed. But really there is no secret per se. Like when taking down a recipe from my mother, I have come to know that the trick is not in the particulars but in the hard work and love that goes into making the finished product. I know, I know, I romanticize too much, but it’s what I know to be true! Papera Ranch has changed ownership over the years. At the end of the 2006 vintage, the vineyard was sold to a private real estate firm that was going to rip out the vineyard and replant it to Pinot Noir. Oh no, the dreaded Sideways-ing of Pinot Noir was about to strike again! Luckily for Zinfandel lovers the world over, a hero arrived on the scene to save the vineyard from the bulldozers. Yes, it was that dramatic. The new owners have taken to tending the vineyard with all the reverence it deserves. Mike played a part in making this all happen, so you know his relationship with the grapes run deep.
| The 2007 Papera Ranch Zinfandel is purple-black in color with oodles of black raspberry and briary berry aromas that delight the senses. The Chambord-like raspberry fruit is rich and tangy and plays nicely with the notes of spice and pepper. This is unadulterated zinfandel folks. Neither shy nor demure, it is bold and big-scaled. What distinguishes Carlisle’s Papera Ranch Zinfandel from other Zins that go over the top, is that there is real style here given its size and scale. Managing balance like that is not accidental. That’s where the deft winemaking comes in that I referenced above. The 2007 Papera Ranch is a young pup for sure. I don’t usually think of ageing Zinfandel, but my experience with Carlisle Zins has proven that if you can keep your hands off the bottles for a minimum of 6 months to a year, you will be greatly rewarded. I have not experimented with further aging, mostly because if I’m lucky enough to have any Carlisle Zinfandels in my stash, I can’t help but drink them. If you have the stamina, I would suggest tucking a few bottles away for 5-7 years. You can thank me later. And now I am going to write something that for those who follow Carlisle Wines know all too well, yet needs to be said. Carlisle Wines are in great demand and sell out quickly, so if you have even the slightest desire to purchase a bottle, now is your chance. This one will not be around for long.
|Desperately needing a change of scenery, I ran away to the Russian River with my daughter for a day. An impromptu dinner with my parents turned into a raucous family reunion of sorts with two brothers, their wives and one of my lovely nieces joining us (my brothers can always smell when Mama’s cookin’!). The drive up was the highlight as I purposely took back roads to check out the vineyards. This has to be the best time of year to take in the beauty of the vineyard. Amazing colors of yellow, orange and red dazzled my eyes. And because of the rain that we had at the beginning of November, the ground cover was a brilliant green. Rather than dry and crumbly, everything look alive and supple. Feeling rejuventated, I am now ready for the craziness that the next two months will bring.-Anya Balistreri