Carlisle’s 2011 Zinfandel Papera Ranch is all about red fruit, lifted aromatics and silky tannins. A highly representative, varietally expressive Zinfandel, the 2011 is utterly convincing. An exotic melange of dried roses, mint, wild flowers and sage rings out on the silky, polished finish. Anticipated maturity: 2016-2026. Proprietor Mike Officer arrived with a bevy of wines for our tasting, all of which I was thrilled to sample. Readers who don’t think terroir exists in California should check out the Carlisle Zinfandels and Syrahs, many of which emerge from old-vine, heritage sites that nearly disappeared until Officer and some of his peers rescued them from the brink of oblivion. In particular, the 2011 Zinfandels are fabulous...The Syrahs were all picked after the rains, while the thinner-skinned Zinfandels naturally came in quite a bit earlier. Officer told me he performed a severe selection of fruit that took with it a full 50% of the production. For his efforts, Officer has been rewarded with a set of gorgeous wines, although I imagine his faithful clientele won’t be too thrilled with the lower production levels of these wines, given their already minuscule production. Unfortunately, 2011 Compagni Portis and Gruner Veltliner were to be bottled right after this tasting, so I will have to wait until another opportunity to sample those wines. Carlisle is resolute in keeping his wines affordable, a commendable approach I wish were more common throughout California. (AG)
(includes 4% carignane; 15.4% alcohol and 3.52 pH): Bright purple. Highly perfumed, spice-accented dark berry and incense aromas show impressive clarity and energy. Smooth and seamless on the palate, offering vibrant blackberry preserve and cherry-vanilla flavors and notes of candied flowers and allspice. Finishes with alluring sweetness and excellent length, leaving smoke and floral notes behind. These vines were reportedly planted in 1934. (ST)
The 2011 Zinfandel Papera Ranch fills out its broad shoulders beautifully. This is one of the more virile wines in the range. Dark red fruit, licorice, smoke, tobacco and incense are woven together nicely. The style is all about volume and breadth. The 2011 seems to have put on weight over the last year. Today, it is gorgeous. The blend is 96% Zinfandel and 4% Carignane, which seems to give the aromatics that make the wine so delicious. (AG)
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