New Domestic Arrivals: Spotlight on Carlisle

Mike Officer’s Zinfandels and Syrahs are powerful reds that though delicious young, reward those patient enough to lay them down for a bit. The structure and intensity that Mike coaxes out of the grapes produces wines that can age. No longer known just as a master of Zinfandel, Mike Officer has earned a reputation for making some of California’s most coveted Syrahs. In a recent WA review, Parker summed up Carlisle with this declaration, “these are artisanal, world-class reds that remain among California’s most fairly priced high quality wines.” We couldn’t agree more. – Anya Balistreri

*Notes from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, Feb 2011

It is amazing to think that fifteen years ago no one had ever heard of Carlisle Winery and Vineyards or Mike Officer. Moreover, what Officer has done to preserve old vine Zinfandel vineyards in Sonoma is nothing short of astonishing. Add to that success story his sensational line-up of Syrahs, Petite Sirahs and Rhone Ranger blends and it is undeniable that this man and his winery are at the top of their game. These are artisanal, world-class reds that remain among California’s most fairly priced high quality wines… Mike Officer says 2009 is a strong year for his wines, but since he has done nearly everything right, it is hard for me to say his 2009s are better than previous vintages… Readers who love these wines are advised to stock up on what is left of the 2008s as well as the upcoming 2009s. – Robert Parker

2009 Russian River Valley Carlisle Vineyard Zinfandel93-95 POINTS
The 2009 Zinfandel Carlisle Vineyard (93% Zinfandel and 7% mixed blacks) is equal to the Montafi and just a notch behind the prodigious Monte Rosso. A sexy, heady wine, its dark plum/purple color is followed by a big, sweet kiss of blueberries, blackberries, wild, briery, mountain berries, spice box, pepper, roasted herb and forest floor. This chewy, thick, rich beauty will drink well for 7-8 years.

2009 Russian River Valley Papera Ranch Zinfandel92-95 POINTS
Another classic in the making, the 2009 Zinfandel Papera Ranch demonstrates just how elegant Zinfandel can be with its kirsch and raspberry notes that resemble Grenache more than Zinfandel. There is terrific fruit on the attack and mid-palate, full body and good purity. Moreover, the wood component is pushed to the background. This 2009 should be delicious young and last 4-5 years.

2009 Bennett Valley Cardiac Hill Syrah92-94 POINTS
From the famed Cardiac Hill, the 2009 Syrah Cardiac Hill will not make anyone forget the 2008, but it is another great effort. Forty percent whole clusters were used and the crop size was significantly larger than in 2008. The 2009 displays a blue/purple color along with copious aromas of graphite, ink, black currants, crushed rocks and a hint of spring flowers. Full-bodied with surprisingly modest alcohol (14.5%) for this vineyard, it offers a beautiful combination of power and elegance and should age effortlessly for a decade.

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Filed under Anya Balistreri, California, Sonoma County

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