2012 Carlisle "Carlisle Vineyard" Russian River Valley Zinfandel

SKU #1190630 93-95 points Vinous

 One of the more exotic wines in the range, the Zinfandel Carlisle Vineyard is captivating from the very first taste. Orange peel, juniper berries and sandalwood all add complexity as the wine opens up in the glass. Here, too, the wine seems to change with every passing minute, revealing multiple shades of dimension over time. The deep, layered finish is incredibly inviting. (AG)  (2/2014)

94 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

 Opaque ruby. Vibrant, mineral-driven aromas of red and dark berries and potpourri, with an exotic touch of blood orange emerging with aeration. Offers spicy black raspberry and floral pastille flavors that put on weight with air while maintaining vivacity and focus. Shows unlikely finesse for its heft, finishing with excellent clarity and length and gentle tannic grip. (ST)  (5/2014)

93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 From a vineyard planted in 1927, the 2012 Zinfandel Carlisle Vineyard (634 cases produced; 15.4% natural alcohol) is composed of 88% Zinfandel and the rest mixed blacks as well as a handful of such white varietals as Muscadelle, Malvasia and Muscat. Remarkably, Mike Officer told me over 30 varietals were planted in the 12% non-Zinfandel component in this wine. A big, sweet bouquet of black raspberries, blackberries, licorice, scorched earth and charcoal is present in this full-bodied, opulent, pure, well-made red that possesses a broad, savory mouthfeel. About 23% new French oak was used, and the wine was produced from tiny yields of 1.5 tons of fruit per acre. Drink now-2022. (RP)  (12/2014)

92 points Wine Spectator

 This agilely balances bold fruit with a core of firm acidity and minerally tannins. Pomegranate, cherry and fresh anise aromas combine with focused flavors of blueberry, eucalyptus and cracked white pepper. Drink now through 2022. (TF)  (4/2015)

90 points Wine Enthusiast

 This comes from the producer’s home vineyard site, planted originally in 1927 to a cacophony of varieties, most of which the winemaker himself is now able to identify. Subtle smoke and baked red berry and blackberry come to the fore on the nose and palate, muted at first, with an accent of orange, before building power and steam on the finish. (VB)  (5/2015)

K&L Notes

From Robert Parker: "One of the great success stories in Northern California is the genesis of Carlisle Winery, whose owner, Mike Officer, began as a wine hobbiest/software developer and grew into a full-time wine producer who has done more to save head-pruned, old-vine Zinfandel vineyards than anyone else in the United States. He built his reputation on full-flavored red wines and continues to fine-tune these beauties, often field blends of what are generically referred to as 'mixed blacks' planted primarily by Italian immigrants prior to Prohibition." (12/2014)

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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.


- 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.
Specific Appellation:

Sonoma County

- Second in fame only to Napa, this "other" valley offers just about every climate and topography imaginable. From its cool and fog-enshrouded coastal regions on the far west, to the sprawling Alexander Valley on the boarder of Napa and the many little dips and peaks in between, Sonoma has been a vital wine-grape-growing region since the mid 1800s. Important sub-AVAs include Chalk Hill (known for chardonnay and sauvignon blanc), Dry Creek Valley (where zin is king) Knights Valley (largely cabernet land), Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast (both celebrated pinot and chardonnay zones).