It’s always exciting when a great winemaker outdoes himself, which is exactly what Mike Officer has done with his 2006 Carlisle Zinfandels.
These wines, which Tim Fish and I tasted in one of our regular weekly blind tastings, are sensational, earning a sprint don’t run endorsement.
Carlisle’s wines have always done well with us. In some vintages the tannins have thrown their weight about more so than in others. But with the 2006s, the wines have achieved a measure of finesse and polish that had not been quite as refined as they are in these wines.
There are five Zins being released now and all are worth seeking. Soon to come are the 2006 Syrahs, which, if these wines are any indication, should also be sensational.
I suppose that it’s all the more striking that these 2006s are singing so clearly, since it wasn’t an easy vintage for many reds and whites from California. Don’t read that as the vintage being a disaster, just that it has been variable.
It was hard picking out a favorite. What’s impressive about these wines is how reflective they are when they’re from single vineyards or regional blends.
The Russian River Valley Bacchi Ranch 2006 ($38, 237 cases made) is amazingly complex, bold, ripe and flirting with jammy blueberry pie. Yet it’s elegant and stylish.
The Dry Creek Valley 2006 ($33, 385 cases) offers wild berry cobbler, fresh sage and pepper notes and excellent structure.
The Russian River Valley Montafi Ranch 2006 ($40, 238 cases) shows off savory Bay leaf, oregano spiciness and deep berry flavors.
The Russian River Valley Pietro's Ranch 2006 ($43, 196 cases) presents Zin in a more rustic yet endearing style, big, firm and still charming
Your best bet, given that these are mostly small-production wines, might be the Sonoma County 2006 ($20, 857 cases), as it demonstrates that for all the diversity of the single-vineyard cuvées, the mix of all the leftovers tastes pretty good too.