Each week I pick out one wine to highlight as my wine of the week.  This wine may be an outstanding wine, a great value or just something very interesting.





The Winery

In the winery’s words – We are a small Sonoma County winery specializing in the production of old-vine, vineyard designated zinfandels and red Rhone varieties (syrah, grenache, mourvèdre, and petite sirah).  While we like our wines to be bold, rich, and intensely flavored, each reflecting a sense of place, its origins in the vineyard, we also strive to create wines of balance, complexity, and perhaps most importantly, pleasure.


Rich.  Lusty.  Hedonistic.  These are some of the descriptors we often hear applied to our wines.  However, we also hear the words elegant, balanced, complex.  Yes, through hard work in the vineyard and winery, we believe you can have it all, the best of both worlds.  Our approach to winemaking is simple, yet difficult.  We prefer to intervene in nature’s process as little as possible but we will leave no stone unturned in our quest to maximize the quality of each wine we produce.


In my words – This is the one mailing list you have to join.  Mike Officer makes some of the best wines coming out of California and sells them at incredibly reasonable prices.  I was lucky to be an early fan of the winery and was able to join the mailing list immediately.  For the unlucky people who were not able to jump on early, the mailing list is full.  The winery actually has a waiting list to get on the mailing list.  No one can accurately say how long it will actually take to move from the waiting list to the mailing list for one very good reason…no one, or probably more accurately, very few people drop off the list.  These are usually outstanding wines and with their pricing, these are some of the best QPR wines out there.



The Wine

Mother Nature blessed Papera Ranch with both quality and quantity in 2009, providing us with a wine that rivals our much-lauded 2007.  If you are a fan of what we have done with this vineyard the last few years, I encourage you to take advantage of the quantity available.  The grapes were picked October 10th, fermented indigenously and bottled unfined and unfiltered.


Papera Ranch® (Formerly Carlo’s Ranch) – RussianRiverValley

Just a stone’s throw from Carlisle Vineyard, this “grand dame” of the Russian River Valley was planted in 1934 by Charley (Carlo) Papera.  Given its cool location, this vineyard is typically picked in late October.


If you would like to join the waiting list to get on the Carlisle mailing list, click here.



Here is what an “old vine” Zinfandel looks like:

papera old vine



2009 Carlisle Zinfandel Papera Ranch – $37.00

Papera, Montafi and the Carlisle Vineyards are my favorite sources of Carlisle Zinfandels.  This vineyard was planted in 1934 and is unusual for an old vineyard in that it is planted to over 95% Zinfandel.  Most old vineyards have a much higher percentage of other grapes planted.


This 100% Zinfandel has 15.4% alcohol by volume and the bottle is sealed with a natural cork.  There were 779 cases of the wine produced.


There is no need to try and find the 2010 vintage of this wine.  After a few months of cool weather, a day of sweltering heat on August 24th wiped out the entire crop.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark, opaque purple color.  The nose is absolutely stunning on this wine, it’s full of brambly berries, warm baking spices, licorice, minerals, roasted herbs, dried wild flowers, plums, well worn leather and freshly cracked black peppercorns.  This has a full body, moderate ripe tannins and good acidity.  On the palate this is balanced, dense, rich and full of layers that slowly fade so the next one can take over.  The flavor profile is loaded on this wine with a very nice mixture of fruit and savory elements.  The finish is very long and again full of flavor.  There are absolutely no rough edges or over powering elements on this wine.  It is drinking wonderfully today and will continue to do so for a few more years.  Stunning!  (95 pts)

2009 Carlisle Zinfandel Papera Ranch

2009 Carlisle Zinfandel Papera Ranch



We paired the Carlisle Zin with a fairly simple meal, grilled barbecue chicken, potato salad and at my insistence, deviled eggs.

BBQ Chicken




Connect with me

You can follow me on Twitter for more wine info, potential food pairings, and an occasional recipe or two.  Be warned, I’m also a sports fan and there are occasional Pittsburgh Penguins, Steelers, and Pirates tweets.  I attended the University of South Carolina, so during football season, there will also be some Gamecock posts.


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This is original to CliffsWinePicks.com.  Copyright 2013 Cliff’s Wine Picks.

All rights reserved.




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Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at www.cellartracker.com.  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.



Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.



All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.