2013 Carlisle Sonoma County Syrah

SKU #1200790 90-92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 The 2013 Syrah is a blend of the Papa’s Block and the Steiner Vineyard Syrahs that had been bottled singularly in the past. Deep and rich, with an opaque purple color, it offers up notes of pen ink, blackberries, roasted meats and lard. This big, rich, chunky, succulent Syrah (870 cases produced) should drink nicely for a decade or more. 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)

90-92 points Vinous

 The 2013 Syrah is one of the real overachievers in this range. Mike Officer did not think his flagship Papa's Block Syrah was good enough to be bottled on its own, so it was blended with a parcel of Sonoma Mountain fruit for this year's Syrah. Dark red cherry, plum, smoke and licorice all jump from the glass in a plump, extroverted Syrah to drink while the fruit retains its juiciness. Hints of lavender, violets, mint and dark spices wrap around the finish. I am not sure I have met a winery owner quite like Mike Officer before. Of course, Officer is well-known for his advocacy of California's heritage vineyards, but his dedication to delivering value to the end consumer is just as noteworthy. All of that is served up with a giddy, boyish enthusiasm that is reflected in rich, powerful wines that highlight the essence of a number of Sonoma's best vineyards. I tasted all of these wines with Officer and longtime winemaker Jay Maddox from barrel prior to bottling. Maddox describes 2013 as a year with no shock weather events such as frost or heat wave. Weather at set was good, and the main challenge was managing the crop load. Harvest was earlier than normal. In response to the fruit that came in, Maddox opted for lower temperatures in fermentation and fewer punch downs. Unfortunately I was not able to taste the Petite Sirah and James Berry Syrah, both of which were being fined in preparation for bottling.  (1/2015)

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Price: $34.99
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- One of France's noblest black grape varieties, Syrah is known for its intense and distinctive perfume reminiscent of briar fruit, tar, spice and black pepper and its firm structure. One of few black grape varietals frequently vinified on its own, the best examples of Syrah come from the Northern Rhône, particularly Hermitage, but also Côte-Rôtie, Cornas, Crozes-Hermitage and St-Joseph. These wines are very astringent in their youth, though some Crozes-Hermitage and St-Joseph can be enjoyed young, relatively speaking. Given the requisite patience, though, these wines can reveal amazing complexity and secondary fruit characteristics like plum and blackcurrant as well as subtle hints of smoke and flowers. In the Southern Rhône, Syrah is used to add structure and complexity to wines dominated by Grenache and complemented by Mourvèdre, like the more immediately drinkable Côte du Rhônes, as well as the long-lived wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. In recent years, plantings of Syrah have spread throughout the Languedoc-Roussillon where it is produced on its own or blended with other varietals. Outside of France, the most important Syrah growing country is easily Australia, where it is called Shiraz. Quality levels here depend greatly on yields and geography, and the wines range from bold, fruity and easy-drinking to intense and ageable, like the famed Penfolds Grange. Often bottled on its own, in Australia Syrah is also can be blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre, as in the Southern Rhône, and is increasingly combined with Cabernet Sauvignon. Syrah has also been steadily increasing in popularity in California, thanks to a group of advocates called the Rhône Rangers. Its most successful iterations come from the Central and Sonoma Coasts, where winemakers are pushing boundaries and creating some incredible wines. In recent years Syrah has also found a number of proponents in Washington State, which is definitely a region to watch for this variety.

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).
Alcohol Content (%): 15.2