2012 Carlisle "Montafi Ranch" Russian River Valley Zinfandel

SKU #1160452 93-95 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 Another knock-out offering is the 2012 Zinfandel Montafi Ranch, a blend of 89% Zinfandel and 11% mixed blacks (Alicante Bouchet, Grand Noir, Peloursin, Aubun, Trousseau and a handful of others). Very rich with a seamless, full-bodied style, this wine is loaded with black and red fruits, spice and subtle oak in addition to well-integrated acidity, tannin and alcohol. This big, voluptuously-textured, full-throttle Zin should drink nicely for 7-8 years. Carlisle Winery’s Mike Officer and his wife are one of the wonderful stories in the wine world. Going from a part-time home winemaker, to turning out some of his beloved Zinfandels, to becoming one of the two or three leading guardians of old vine Zinfandel in Northern California, Mike Officer was so good at making wine that he changed careers and wine consumers are the beneficiaries. The single vineyard Zins are absolutely remarkable. Everyone who loves Zinfandel should be on Carlisle’s mailing list, the wines are primarily available only from the winery. Sadly, Mike Officer is not making as much Syrah as he used to given the difficult marketplace for this varietal. That’s a shame, as great Syrahs are truly magnificent wines. (RP)  (12/2013)

94 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

 (includes 11% mixed blacks; 15.4% alcohol): Inky purple. Sexy, deeply pitched dark fruit liqueur, floral pastille and pit fruit aromas show superb clarity and power, with a spicy element adding lift. Smooth and voluptuous in character, offering intense blueberry and boysenberry flavors that coat the palate while maintaining a sense of vibrancy. Finishes sweet and long, with velvety tannins providing gentle grip and shape. Borders on decadent, in a good way.  (6/2014)

90-92 points Antonio Galloni

 The 2012 Zinfandel Montafi Ranch is powerful and imposing. Layers of expressive dark fruit open up in an explosive Zinfandel full of personality. Today, the Montafi comes across as massive in style, with not a lot of subtlety. It will be interesting to see how things develop over the next year. The blend is 89% Zinfandel and 11% mixed blacks. This is one of the warmer sites Carlisle works with. I tasted a stunning range of wines during my recent visit to Carlisle. Proprietor Mike Officer and his winemaker/viticulturist Jay Maddox have recently moved into a new, barn-like winery in Windsor stacked to the ceiling with barrels. Carlisle specializes in old-vine Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Syrahs, most of which come from old-vine, heritage sites planted by Italian immigrants going back to the late 1800s. As great as the Carlisle wines are, Officer's dedication to protecting California's heritage vineyards, a passion he shares with Morgan Peterson of Bedrock, Tegan Passalacqua of Turley and a handful of other growers, may prove to be an even longer lasting legacy...The 2012s are much more open and radiant in keeping with the style of the year. Best of all, though, these wines deliver superb quality at exceedingly fair prices. The only 2012 I was not able to taste was the Dry Creek Zinfandel, as my sample got lost in transit between the two Carlisle facilities.  (2/2014)

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- The bid to name Zinfandel California's "State Varietal" may have failed, but this red wine grape, grown extensively in California since the mid-1800s, is grown in few other places in the world. Sadly, much of what's cultivated today is planted where it's too hot and flat. But when planted to well-drained, hillside vineyards that are warm but not too hot, like those in Sonoma County's Dry Creek Valley and Amador County in the Sierra Foothills, Zinfandel can produce wines with plenty of character. High in natural alcohol and tannin, grown carefully it can be rich and complex, with dark fruit berry fruit and peppery spice. The most known example of Zinfandel outside of California is Italy's Primitivo, which can be similar in style, but is often a bit lighter and less alcoholic than West Coast examples.

United States

- When people consider domestic wine, they normally think about the state of California. The fine viticultural Region within California, including the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Cruz Mountains, Mendocino and Santa Barbara, are capable of growing grapes of world-class quality. But there's plenty of fabulous wine coming from other states, too. Oregon, Washington and New York are also causing eyebrows (and glassware) to be raised around the world. Click for a list of bestselling items from the United States.


- With the explosive growth that California's wine industry has seen the past several years, it's easy to view winemaking and grape growing in the Golden State as a recent phenomenon. And while it's true that California's viticultural history is brief compared to several European countries, this state's roots date back well over 200 years. Due to the enormous response to California wine within the United States and worldwide, there are thousands of excellent and diverse wines being produced within the state each year. For our entire selection of California wines, please visit this link.
Specific Appellation:

Alexander Valley/Russian River

- Among Sonoma County's northernmost appellations, the Alexander Valley AVA acts as a gateway to neighboring Napa to the east and Mendocino to the north. It is a sprawling appellation, with pockets of distinct microclimates and soils, and as such, is home to a variety of wine grapes and styles. Nearly everything grows in the Alexander Valley, though Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are the most widely planted grapes. The Russian River Valley lies to the south of Alexander Valley, and is marked by much cooler temperatures and frequently heavy fog. The Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grown here are some of the state's finest and most sought-after. Aromatic whites like Gewürztraminer and Riesling can also be successful, and sparkling wine production has a long history in the area.