2012 Carlisle "Montafi Ranch" Russian River Valley Zinfandel
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)
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.
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.