2015 Carlisle Zinfandel Montafi Ranch
by JJ Buckley Fine Wines
Carlisle’s small production single-vineyard Zinfandels don’t pop up as much as we’d like on the retail circuit, since top restaurants and a fiercely loyal mailing list tend to snap up most of the mere 5,000 cases Mike Officer produces. Fortunately, we have been able to secure some of this super expressive ‘Montafi Ranch’ and if you love old-vine Zinfandel this is one you won't want to miss!
Planted nearly a century ago (formerly the Tom Feeney Ranch), this is a true old-school California field blend of Zinfandel along with 13% ‘mixed blacks’ (Alicante Bouschet, Grand Noir and a half dozen others), which contribute to a remarkable, personality-driven wine that tastes like nothing else. Robert Parker has declared Carlisle’s Zins as proof that “terroir exists in California” and of the 2004 bottling, he described it as “among the finest Zinfandels I have ever tasted" (so clearly, this site has tremendous potential).
Among the advocates for California’s unique heritage vineyards, Mike Officer is right up there with Ridge, Turley, and Joel Peterson. His artisanal Northern California winery has been crafting delicious Zinfandel from old-vine plantings since 1998, and while Carlisle’s Zins are “poster children for hedonism and exuberant joy" (Parker) they also are deeply expressive of terroir. The Montafi’s flashy blackberry and raspberry fruit are balanced by notes of earth, licorice, and charcoal, while a firm spice-laden structure hints a deceptive aging potential. Whether you’re a die-hard Carlisle fan or just hearing about them now, you’ll want to jump on this allocation asap! Cheers!