September 22, 2008

2006 Carlisle Sonoma County Zinfandel

When it comes to QPR in wine, you'd be hard pressed to come up with better wine than what Carlisle has to offer, across the board. In fact, for the 2006 release of this wine, I believe that they even rolled back the price, which is virtually unheard of in this day and age. It's too bad for the average consumer that Carlisle wines are somewhat scarce and the wait time to buy directly from the winery is a few years at the least, but the savvy shopper can usually find a few of these wines scattered amongst select retail shops in major cities. If you do find them, I'd advise you to snag them quickly, because they don't last too long on the shelves.

The first vintage of Carlisle was 5 gallons of Zinfandel, made in owner Mike Officer's kitchen in the late 1990's. Today, that number has grown to around 2500 cases of various Zinfandel and Syrah blends and single vineyard bottlings from some of the best vineyards in Sonoma. This particular blend comes from about 6 different vineyards in Sonoma and has a dollop of Petite Sirah and Alicante thrown in which definitely makes things interesting. I'm completely guessing here since I have no clue what the initial blend tasted like or the reasoning behing the Petite Sirah addition, but I feel like I could have done without it. Petite Sirah seems to have such an overwhelming flavor profile and tannic structure that for my palate, and what I look for in Zinfandel, it's not needed. Even though that thought comes to mind, I'm going to believe the winemakers judgement that it does in fact improve the blend. Regardless, this wine is a star today on top of being a screaming bargain. It makes me ecstatic that I have a handful of them tucked away, because I won't touch any more for another year, at least.

Tasting Notes:
Dark, almost inky black color with reddish purple highlights towards the rim with a nose that oozes ripe cherries, plum, and raspberry dusted with black pepper as well as brambly spices. As the nose indicated, the palate holds gobs of fruit, balanced with adequate acidity and iron clad tannins that clamp down on the spicy finish. This is not a Zinfandel for early consumption, and needs at least another year in the cellar in my opinion. It was much better on day 2, which might indicate it has a long life ahead of it. A wine that will reward patience.

Price: About $20

Score: 90-91

Alcohol: 14.9%

Cases Produced:857