Bottle Notes, Zinfandel

2012 Carlisle Zinfandel Montafi Vineyard – Bottle Notes

Carlisle Winery & Vineyards was founded in 1998 by Mike and Kendall Officer. Their passion is clear: Small lots of Zinfandel and Syrah from exceptional, historic vineyards. Many of these vineyards are heritage sites planted by Italian immigrants and date back to the late 1800s . Carlisle also recently released their first Cabernet Sauvignon from Montecillo Vinyard and a Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.


Montafi Vineyard was planted in 1926. Located farther up the eastern bench of the Laguna de Santa Rosa flood plain, bordering the Santa Rosa city limits, this vineyard is mostly Zinfandel but does contain a good amount of Alicante Bouschet and Grand Noir. Montafi made my list of Top 10 Old Vine Zinfandel Vineyards.

Bright crimson in color. 15.4% ABV. 89% Zinfandel and 11% Mixed Blacks. Sublime nose of ripe red and blue fruits, citrus and anise. Full bodied with enough acidity to keep everything in balance. Rich, plush and concentrated. Black cherry, blueberry, raspberry liqueur and a hint of pepper on the palate. Tremendous length on the finish. Big, bold Zinfandel. Polarizing perhaps, but count me as a fan. Best over the next 1-2 years.

My rating: 92 points.

I can make an argument that Carlisle is the best Zinfandel producer in the state of California. Current vintages of the various Carlisle wines are available via the mailing list, which is exceptionally long. Several retail outlets in California stock Carlisle, but you need to check with them at the time the winery releases their wines in the Spring and Fall.

I’ve wrote about Carlisle previously in Winery Mailing Lists: The Fab 5 and The 2018 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings. I also had a chance to visit Mike Officer recently and wrote about that in An Afternoon at Carlisle Winery.

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