Antonio Galloni, Vinous
The 2013 Zinfandel Montafi Ranch hits the palate with superb intensity, power and depth. The flavors are dark, rich and expressive, with tons of volume. Sweet tobacco, licorice, menthol and lavender are some of the notes that blossom on the huge finish. This site in the Russian River Valley was planted in 1926 with Zinfandel and mixed blacks. I am not sure I have met a winery owner quite like Mike Officer before. Of course, Officer is well-known for his advocacy of California's heritage vineyards, but his dedication to delivering value to the end consumer is just as noteworthy. All of that is served up with a giddy, boyish enthusiasm that is reflected in rich, powerful wines that highlight the essence of a number of Sonoma's best vineyards. I tasted all of these wines with Officer and longtime winemaker Jay Maddox from barrel prior to bottling. Maddox describes 2013 as a year with no shock weather events such as frost or heat wave. Weather at set was good, and the main challenge was managing the crop load. Harvest was earlier than normal. In response to the fruit that came in, Maddox opted for lower temperatures in fermentation and fewer punch downs. Unfortunately I was not able to taste the Petite Sirah and James Berry Syrah, both of which were being fined in preparation for bottling.
Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate
The 2013 Zinfandel Montafi Ranch, a blend of 89% Zinfandel and 11% mixed blacks, is a powerful wine with 15.8% alcohol. One of the largest 2013 cuvées (700 cases), it was aged in 20% new French oak. Copious aromas of blackberry and blackcurrant fruit emerge from this big, boldly flavored, savory, full-bodied, classic, peppery, spicy, mouthfilling Zinfandel. This beauty should develop into one of the beauties in the 2013 portfolio. Drink 2015-2024. One of the great success stories in Northern California is the genesis of Carlisle Winery, whose owner, Mike Officer, began as a wine hobbiest / software developer and grew into a full-time wine producer who has done more to save head-pruned, old-vine Zinfandel vineyards than anyone else in the United States. He built his reputation on full-flavored red wines and continues to fine-tune these beauties, often field blends of what are generically referred to as “mixed blacks” planted primarily by Italian immigrants prior to Prohibition.