2014 Carlisle "Montafi Ranch" Russian River Valley Zinfandel

SKU #1252049 96 points Wine Spectator

 Zinfandel doesn't get much better than this. Rich aromas of black raspberry and orange zest open to balanced, complex and luxurious flavors of blackberry, mint and baking spices. A knockout. Drink now through 2027. *Ranked #14 Top 100 Wines of 2016, Highly Recommended* (TF)  (8/2016)

93-95 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 I’ll just briefly summarize the 2014s. It was the earliest vintage ever for Mike Officer and probably he’ll beat that early harvest record in 2015. In this case, he was finished by October 6, which was a first, and it will be interesting to see if he eclipses that in 2015, which was looking even earlier. The production levels were relatively abundant for Mike Officer and the wines fruit-forward, although softer and less reserved than some of the 2013s. While not quite as opaque in color, they are loaded with fruit, supple and luscious. The only white wine, the Grüner Veltliner Steiner Vineyard, makes an appearance in 2014, and it’s another beauty – it’s crisp and the only wine in bottle. The other wines all stood out and will, no doubt, merit outstanding ratings across the board for their intensity, richness, and full-bodied power. If you already know what Mike Officer does, and the style of his wines, you won’t be disappointed in his 2014s. You may even like them as much as any vintage, given the fact that this year shows a lot of up-front fruit and charm. (RP)  (10/2015)

92-94 points Vinous

 The 2014 Zinfandel Montafi Ranch is the biggest of Carlisle's three Russian River Zinfandels. The Montafi is marked by a distinctive eucalyptus note, a core of huge, jammy fruit and striking inner perfume. Exotic and ample in all of its facets, the Montafi Ranch is without question one of the most expressive wines in this lineup. Montafi is planted with approximately 87% Zinfandel and 13% Mixed Blacks. Proprietor Mike Carlisle and his longtime winemaker/viticulturist Jay Maddox excel with Zinfandel and Mixed Blacks bottlings from a number of historic sites, most of them scattered throughout Sonoma County. Officer describes 2014 as a vintage with lower alcohols than normal and stable weather through the end of the season, which allowed for harvesting at a leisurely pace. The 2014s are gorgeous across the board. In keeping with the style of the year, the Zinfandel-based wines are aromatically bright and focused. As always, Carlisle delivers exceptional value, something that is so rare today. (AG)  (1/2016)

93 points Wine Enthusiast

 From a ranch planted originally in 1926 this is a knockout wine, exotically spiced and nuanced in pepper, cinnamon and a distinction of sandalwood. High-toned fruit provides a lift to the lushness that wants to dominate, but never does, allowing the tangy orange and blackberry to speak quietly and clearly. *Editors' Choice* (VB)  (10/2016)

K&L Notes

Not surprisingly, the 88-year-old vines at Montafi Ranch knocked it out of the park in 2014. With slightly smaller clusters and berries than in 2013, yields were approximately 2.2 tons to the acre, just below the previous year’s record of 2.5 tons to the acre. Since yields were generous, they picked over the course of several days and divided the fruit between multiple tanks to give them a broader range of flavors and aromas for creating the best blend possible. All French oak but only 20% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. Winery note: "Very dark ruby-purple. Knockout, exotic aromas of black raspberry, eucalyptus, blood orange, and sandalwood. Wow! I could sniff this all night! Incredibly well-balanced with flavors of blackberry and black raspberry. Not particularly tannic (Zins rarely are), healthy acidity provides a solid framework for this wine to age and develop. Enjoy this benchmark Zinfandel from 2017 through 2023."

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Staff Image By: Steve Bearden | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 6/3/2016 | Send Email
Here is a big, brawny Zin with plenty of spice infused mid-palet fruit and a bramble edge to the long finish. This is deeply fruity, firm and almost chewy in texture with an overall sense of polish, balance and harmony. Despite all the fruit this dry and structured wine is neither sweet nor overripe.

Staff Image By: Diana Turk | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 5/17/2016 | Send Email
Brambly and interesting, the 2014 Carlisle "Montafi Ranch" Russian River Valley proved to be a hit at our last staff tasting. There is complexity here, with layered spice and even some green, faintly eucalyptus notes. It's equally lush, structured, and surprisingly easy drinking, but the main takeaway is that this 88 year old vine Zinfandel is just delicious.

Staff Image By: Andrew Stevens | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 5/11/2016 | Send Email
I tend to look at Russian River Valley for Chardonnay and for Pinot Noir, however this Zinfandel from Carlisle completely caught my attention. Rich, juicy, red fruits offer a lot of body while staying away from the more berry pie flavors found in Zinfandel from some other parts of California. The wine had heft without being flabby and coated the mouth a generous tannin structure. Bring on the big dinners and see how well this wine stands up to them.

Staff Image By: Bryan Brick | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 5/11/2016 | Send Email
We are very excited here at K&L to be able to offer, for the first time ever, one of Mike Officer’s amazing Carlisle Zinfandels via one of our e-mails. I’ve been working with Mike for a handful of years, happily taking 1 case here, 3 cases there of his pure, intense, powerful and critically acclaimed Zinfandels and watching them disappear almost instantly. So this year when Mike told me I could take a large chunk of the famed Montafi Vineyard I kind of thought he was screwing with me. Luckily he wasn’t. Planted in 1926 the Montafi Vineyard is typical of its time in that is it inter-planted with numerous varietals including, but not limited to, Alicante Bouschet, Grand Noir, Peloursin and Syrah. Deep set with layers of spice this is one special Zin. It’s rarity in the market is only matched by its rarity in style: big, lush, ripe and fully fruited but never feeling jammy, complexity above all else with exotic spices abounds and bright lifting energy throughout. This to me is what great Zinfandel is all about. Get some while you can.

Additional Information:



- 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).
Alcohol Content (%): 15