2020 Carlisle, Zinfandel, Papera Ranch, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County.
Mike Officer’s 2020 Papera Ranch Zin is deeply concentrated, full bodied and comforting on the palate with black raspberry, candied cherry, brambly currant and plummy fruits that smoothly flow in the mouth, along with hints of briar spice, sage brush, toasty wood, anise, lilacs and vanilla. I wasn’t sure about the vintage, which is marked by the fires throughout the state, but Officer, who like Turley, specialize in Zinfandel, seemed to have been highly selective and lucky to have missed the presence of smoke taint and this wine is a ripe and darkly beautiful Zinfandel in the glass, perfect for these cool winter nights. While truly, unapologeticly and expressively Californian in style this Carlisle Papera Ranch Zinfandel has the impact of a big and robust Chateauneuf du Pape and with be a fine pairing with lamb roast, grilled meat and or terrific with hard Basque cheeses, all of which will melt away any tannin and youthful firmness and allow the purity of the old vine fruit to shine. Carlisle says the Papera Ranch was planted in 1934 by Celestino (Charlie) Papera, and is an old-vine vineyards that contains plenty of mixed black varieties, most of the blocks here are 95+% Zinfandel, but one block has a significant amount of Carignan, with tiny amounts of Syrah, Petite Sirah and even some Valdiguié, once known as Napa Gamay. This site, Officer adds, is in a cool location, making it one of his last Zinfandel vineyards to be picked, all of which adds to the complexity and depth in the wines.

One of California’s brightest stars, especially for wines like this, winemaker Mike Officer, who’s Carlisle Winery, based in Sonoma County, is focused on old-vine, vineyard designated Zinfandels mostly, as well as red Rhône varieties, including Syrah, which I recently reviewed and loved, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Petite Sirah. Officer also produce three white wines, two of which, as he says, are blends from historic, old-vine vineyards plus Sonoma County’s first ever Grüner Veltliner, which is already a geeky treat. Carlisle, while widely admired for the Zinfandels, which are right up there with the best in the state, sitting easily along side with the mentioned Turley, Biale, Ridge and Bedrock, does, as noted, a fabulous set of Syrah offerings, including from the Rosella’s and Sierra Mar vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands, both of which I really enjoy personally with their more cool climate or Northern Rhône character. Officer explains that 2020 was a low yielding year, but that Papera Ranch was a bit of a bright spot for him with a production of 2.4 tons to the acre, not bad for such old vines. Going on he says that Papera was picked in four passes over a total of nine days, with the goal being to create as broad a palette of flavors and aromas as possible for blending the final wine, which I say he achieved to great effect. Mike reveals, that like many of his wines in this 2020 vintage, very little new oak was used, in fact only 10% percent was employed here in the Papera Zin, and the wine which was aged over a year in French barrels, was bottled unfined and unfiltered. If you have some of these, lucky you, go ahead and start drinking them, if not I highly recommend searching out the 2021s from Carlisle, an outstanding and age worthy vintage.
($54 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

By admin