Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out. For this week, my Wine Of The Week is the 2010 Carlisle Zinfandel Monte Rosso Vineyard.
Carlisle Winery & Vineyards is a small Sonoma County based winery based in Santa Rosa. According their website they specialize in the..
…production of old-vine, vineyard designated Zinfandels and red Rhone varieties (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Petite Sirah).
Mike Officer is the Owner/Winemaker. He caught the wine “bug” early – at age 19 – when he tasted a late-harvest Riesling (It seems like we all start with sweet wines doesn’t it?) After graduating from college, he worked in software development for five years, but realized that was not his passion. He knew the answer would involve wine, but he wasn’t sure in what capacity.
He decided to try winemaking, starting with making 5 gallons of Zinfandel in his kitchen. Some years later, he and his wife Kendall found themselves making 300 cases of “garage” wine. They decided to jump in with both feet and established Carlisle Winery & Vineyards in 1998. They’ve focused on old-vine Zinfandel, and red Rhône blends, until the 2010 vintage, when they made their first white wines.
In addition to their own estate vineyard, they source grapes from Sonoma County, primarily the Russian River, and Dry Creek AVAs. Officer always been a fan of old-vine vineyards. In fact, of the 16 vineyard sources listed on their website, half ( Gold Mine Ranch, Martinelli Road Vineyard, Montafi Ranch, Pagani Ranch Vineyard, Papera Ranch, Rossi Ranch Vineyard, Saitone Ranch, and Two Acres) are considered historic vineyards by the Historic Vineyard Society .
Carlisle wines are available via a mailing list. The mailing list is currently closed, but if you would like to be added to the waiting list, click here.
Fruit for this wine is from the legendary Monte Rosso Vineyard located in the Mayacamas Mountains. Monte Rosso has a reputation for producing wines of high acidity across all varieties (The vineyard is also planted to Cabernet Sauvignon) and producers. Wines are incredibly long lived.
The Monte Rosso Vineyard has a special place in my heart. While a Zinfandel was my epiphany wine, it was Rosenblum Monte Rosso Zinfandel that blew my mind many moons ago. This one is better than that!
The wine is aged in 20% new French oak and bottle unfiltered, but given a light egg white fining to polish the mountain tannins.
My tasting notes follow:
Nearly opaque purple color with black fruit, bittersweet chocolate, earth, and slight roast meat aromas. On the palate, it’s full-bodied, but the mouthwatering acidity keeps it deftly balanced. It shows blackberry blueberry, black raspberry, mineral and a hint of bittersweet chocolate and a long finish 96% Zinfandel; 4% Grand Noir 15.8% alcohol; 410 cases produced
Rating: A-: This is an outstanding Zinfandel! While it was a bit hot on the nose on day 1, that wasn’t the case on day 2. Additionally, I made sure it was served at the appropriate temperature on day 2, and the heat wasn’t there. Perhaps a not so gentle reminder to serve reds at the appropriate temperature, especially as the weather warms up!
Pair with: A full-bodied wine such as this would pair well with robust dishes such as roast lamb, meat stews, hearty pastas, or barbequed dishes. And this Zinfandel is more food friendly than most because of its lively acidity!
Sample purchased for review
(A+) – 98-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 94-97/Outstanding
(A-) – 90-93/Excellent
(B+) – 86-89/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail
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