Letting a little out of the bag, I have to at least discuss Zinfandel a bit before moving on. Zinfandel, along with Petit Sirah, is America’s vinous jewel, particularly the old vine vineyards that dot the Northern California landscape. We’re losing these treasures to housing tracts and Cabernet. Losing them to bottom line wines. That is more than a shame, it is a disaster.
Cabernet can make some pretty attractive wines in many places, California included, but the wines we have from the old vine vineyards in California cannot be replicated. That alone is not reason enough to defend them and mourn their passing, but the wines can be awesome, too! Amazing! Fantastic, even!
Seriously, I love Zinfandel and there is nothing better than old vines, field blends and the hands of a skilled winemaker for creating characterful, unique and distinctive wines. Make those wines $40 a bottle and you’ve done a service not only to your consumers, but to the growers maintaining the vineyards and to the next generation of wine drinkers that will be able to share in the bounty.
As an aside, if I were to give an award for Person of the Year, it would go to Mike Officer, who was part of the motivating force behind the formation of the Historic Vineyard Society (HVS). Not to drift too far off topic, but the HVS is committed to cataloguing all the great, historic vineyards of California. With Mike Dildine now in the lead, the project team is a gathering of giants: David Gates from Ridge Vineyards, Mike Officer from Carlisle Vineyards, Tegan Passalacqua from Turley Wine Cellars, Morgan Twain-Peterson from Bedrock Vineyards, and Jancis Robinson.
A lot of vineyards are featured on the HVS site, with listings of fascinating information including original planting date, location, distinctive features of the vineyards, composition of the vines planted, and in many cases, photographs. This is admittedly a tool for the Zin geek, but it is also a growing historical document, and I am thrilled to recommend it to other wine lovers. If you love Zin and other less appreciated varieties from California, you should pour yourself a glass and check out the site sometime. Remember to leave yourself some time because it does draw you in!
So, we have a winery that produces a varied set of wines from some of the most historic vineyards in California and they’re offering the wines for sale at great prices. Convincing enough of an argument for Winery of the Year yet? No, of course not, the wines have to be great, too. In the case of Carlisle, they most certainly are.