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.
Pagani Ranch is just off Highway 12 in the Glen Ellen area of Sonoma County. Angela and Felice Pagani came to Sonoma County from Italy, purchased the property and planted the vineyard in the early 1900’s. Norma (Pagani) Amantite still lives in the old farmhouse amidst the vines and her son Dino tends to the vineyard. In addition to Carlisle the fruit goes to Ridge, Seghesio, Biale and Bedrock.
Purple in color. 15.8% ABV. Tremendous nose of blue and black fruits, anise and pepper. Medium to full bodied with perfect acidity. Remarkably well balanced. Impressive structure and concentration. Blueberry, boysenberry, blood orange and pepper on the palate. Exceptional length on the finish. Fabulous Zinfandel from a heritage vineyard. I remember trying this Zin shortly after it was released and it is as good now as it was then. Glorious Zinfandel. Best over the next several years.
My rating: 94 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 previously wrote about Pagani Ranch in Top 10 Old Vine Zinfandel Vineyards.
I’ve wrote about Carlisle previously in Winery Mailing Lists: The Fab 5 and The 2020 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings. I also had a chance to visit Mike Officer recently and wrote about that in An Afternoon at Carlisle Winery.