2011 Carlisle "Montafi Ranch" Russian River Valley Zinfandel

SKU #1136166 90-92 points Antonio Galloni

 The 2011 Zinfandel Montafi Ranch is all about plushness. Mint, tobacco, new leather and licorice add complexity to the deep, resonant fruit. This is one of the more straightforward 2011s and has a bit less textural elegance than is found throughout the range. The tannins are firm and also a bit rough around the edges, at least today. The 2011 is roughly 89% Zinfandel and 11% mixed blacks from vines planted in 1926. Anticipated maturity: 2016-2026. Proprietor Mike Officer arrived with a bevy of wines for our tasting, all of which I was thrilled to sample. Readers who don’t think terroir exists in California should check out the Carlisle Zinfandels and Syrahs, many of which emerge from old-vine, heritage sites that nearly disappeared until Officer and some of his peers rescued them from the brink of oblivion. In particular, the 2011 Zinfandels are fabulous. Officer describes 2011 as a very late harvest. The Syrahs were all picked after the rains, while the thinner-skinned Zinfandels naturally came in quite a bit earlier. Officer told me he performed a severe selection of fruit that took with it a full 50% of the production. For his efforts, Officer has been rewarded with a set of gorgeous wines, although I imagine his faithful clientele won’t be too thrilled with the lower production levels of these wines, given their already minuscule production...Carlisle is resolute in keeping his wines affordable, a commendable approach I wish were more common throughout California.  (4/2013)

90-92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 The 2011 Zinfandel Montafi Ranch is all about plushness. Mint, tobacco, new leather and licorice add complexity to the deep, resonant fruit. This is one of the more straightforward 2011s and has a bit less textural elegance than is found throughout the range. The tannins are firm and also a bit rough around the edges, at least today. The 2011 is roughly 89% Zinfandel and 11% mixed blacks from vines planted in 1926. Anticipated maturity: 2016-2026. Proprietor Mike Officer arrived with a bevy of wines for our tasting, all of which I was thrilled to sample. Readers who don’t think terroir exists in California should check out the Carlisle Zinfandels and Syrahs, many of which emerge from old-vine, heritage sites that nearly disappeared until Officer and some of his peers rescued them from the brink of oblivion. In particular, the 2011 Zinfandels are fabulous. Officer describes 2011 as a very late harvest. The Syrahs were all picked after the rains, while the thinner-skinned Zinfandels naturally came in quite a bit earlier. Officer told me he performed a severe selection of fruit that took with it a full 50% of the production. For his efforts, Officer has been rewarded with a set of gorgeous wines, although I imagine his faithful clientele won’t be too thrilled with the lower production levels of these wines, given their already minuscule production...Carlisle is resolute in keeping his wines affordable, a commendable approach I wish were more common throughout California.  (4/2013)

K&L Notes

From the winery: "Medium-dark red-purple. A very deep, brooding nose of blackberry, black raspberry, and earth with just a slight suggestion of eucalyptus. On the palate, tremendous purity with flavors of black fruits, orange, and spice. A very serious Zinfandel with the acidity and tannin to ensure a very long life. It’s amazing to think that the fruit from these now 85 year-old vines used to be used for white Zinfandel. It’s even more amazing to think that this vineyard was nearly ripped out a few years ago! Of all the Zinfandel vineyards with which we work, none so often provides us with as perfectly balanced fruit as Montafi."

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Varietal:

Zinfandel

- 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.
Country:

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.
Sub-Region:

California

- 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.