1. C-P: These two wines were strikingly different. The Bedrock was more old-timey white, more of a mineral/stony character, a bit like a Semillon, perhaps. Maybe displays the terroir more. The Carlisle was powerfully fragrant, almost like an Alsace Riesling/PG, maybe a bit like Friuli Malvasia (d'Istria), almost muscatty in character. Reminded me a lot of his Gruner. Strikingly different wines.
2. Kirschenmann: These two Zins were much more similiar. Both displayed the classic LodiZin/ mushroomy/earthy/loamy character I get from Lodi reds. The Bedrock showed the Lodi terroir more, the Carlisle only hinted at it. Lodi Zins tend to be rather soft/soupy/porky and both of these were much more lively than most Lodi Zins. These are both quite pretty Zins, but not the powerhouses you expect from Carlisle/Bedrock Zins. Would I recognize the
Kirschenmann terroir in a blind tasting?? I doubt it. If I found a Zin that spoke of Lodi, but showed more bright Zin fruit than most, I might guess it is Kirschenmann, but not w/ the absolute authority of a Monktown attourney, though.
3. MonteRosso: The Zins out of MR vnyd typically show a very strong spiciness more akin to DCV Zins that the strong blackberry Zin that comes out of the SonomaVlly a few miles away. They typically show more acid and bright Zin fruit than other Zins by the same producers from other vnyds. They typically show more tannins and a firmer/tighter/harder structure than most Zins. And they typically don't show as well young as they do w/ some age on them. That's uusually been the case w/ the Ravenswood MR Zins. Both of these MR Zins showed that character in spades. Would I recognize the MR terroir in a blind tasting? I doubt it.
4. Sodini: This is a rather interesting vnyd w/ which I have little experience. When you turn of EastSideRd onto LimerickLane, cross below 101; Sodini is the first OV vnyd on your right. A bit further down LL, you get to the CollinsVnyd/LimerickLane on your left. This is sorta on the NE edge of the RRV as it transitions into the DryCreekVlly.
This two pair of Zins showed a bit less distinctiveness than the other vnyds. Both were pretty classic RRV Zins w/ loads of blackberry/Zin fruit. The Bedrock had a bit more aromatic/ perfumey character that suggestd a bit of a DCV influence. Would I recognize Sodini terroir in a blind tasting? I doubt it, though I'd probably guess it to be a RRV Zin from the strong blackberry character.
5. Papera: This has always been probably my most favorite Carlisle Zin. These two wines were probably the most similar of the Bedrock/Carlisle pairings; the least different. The Bedrock seemed more straightforward interpretation of Papera; the Carlisle a bit more exotic & more things going on in it. This Carlisle was the only one I got any whiff of alcoholic heat, but it was still pretty minimal. Both of these were stunning examples of RRV Zin. Would I recognize Papera terroir in a blind tasting?? Haaa...fat chance. Though I would probably recognize it as RRV Zin blind.
6. Pagani: These two were both pretty terrific interpretations of Pagani. Probably because of the greater mixed black stuff in Pagani, plus the Alicante, Pagani always has more of a rough/rustic/sauvage character than most Zins. These two displayed that in spades. To me, the Pagani typically displays more of a dusty/OV character than most Zin vnyds. But, on the other hand, it may be all the mixed black stuff, the Mourv & the Alicante in there that's tricking me into believing that. I'm easily duped.
Would I recognize Pagani terroir in a blind tasting?? Hmmmmm....that one I might stand a fighting chance of succeeding...but, in truth, probably not!!
7. Bedrock/Carlisle style: So....this is the kind of tasting I've long wanted to do but it's only been in the last yr that Mike/Morgan have had enough vnyds in common that I could do this.
On of the things I thought this tasting would provide is a clear indication of the characteristics of each particular vnyd. Indeed, all the Bedrock/Carlisle Zins showed some commonality that would suggest they were from the same vnyds. But was it sufficient that I could but that commonality of character into words?? Not a chance. If I were given this same tableau of Zins blind, all scrambled up, would I be able to pick them out blind?? Not w/ much success, I suspect. Probably would get the two Lodis, perhaps the two MonteRossos,
maybe the Paganis on a good day; but that's probably it.
Putting a finger on the differences in style between Carlisle/Bedrock is also not so easy. The differences between the two winerys in style is pretty minimal. Just based on the labeled achol levels alone, it's clear that Mike goes for a slightly riper style. But I'd say it not enough of a difference to get you knickers in a knot. What has always amazed me about Mike's Zins is that, even though they're often over 15%, I seldom get much alcoholic het nor fumey character from them..unless I serve them too warm. That was not so of 15%+ Zins back
in the '70's...when you'd often get raisen/pruney/late harvesty character.
In this set of Zins, there also appeared to a be a bit of difference in tannin management. Although I couldn't say w/ much confidence anything about the absolute tannin levels; the tannins in the Carlisles seem a bit rounder/softer/plusher; the Bedrocks seemed to show more angular/harder tannins. Again, it may be the lusher/riper fruit in the Carlisles masked, to some degree, the tannin levels.
Anywho....a pretty exciting tasting for me that I thought would shed some light on the differences betwixt the vnyds and the winemaking styles. Can't say as it actually did...I'm still pretty clueless.
9. The prices listed are what I charged my folks for the wines. The Carlisle prices reflect NM tax (5.13%) and full shipping charges. Bedrock does not charge NM tax and heavily subsidizes our shipping. I've suggested to Chris/Morgan that it's not fair for folks purchasing only a few btls pay the same shipping as for the 4-5 cases I get. Sounds like the way a Commie organization would operate!! :-) But Mike acknowledged that even they subsidize, to a limited extent, their shipping costs, as they continue to rise. And that's true as well
of some of my favorite wineries like Siduri & TablasCreek.
10. Terroir: Ahhhh....the dreaded T-word that the wine geeks babble on so incessently about. I am always totally in awe of those folks who can taste a bunch of Pinots blind and totally nail them...."this is the LaTache, this the Richebourg, this the Echezeaux, this the Hirsch, this the Pisoni, this the Caragasacchi" and so on.
In this tasting, I thought the Lodi Zins and the MonteRosso Zins were pretty characteristic of those regions, less so the Paganis. But Sodini/Saitone/Bedrock/RossiRanch/ Carlisle .....wouldn't have a clue of picking those out, one from the other, in a blind tasting. To have that skill, I think you have to be tasting those single vnyds on a frequent, perhaps weekly, basis. In other words, probably if you're the winemaker of those vnyd Zins, you'd have a chance. But us mere mortals...no way. To tell the truth, tasting a tableau of Zins blind, I might be able to pick the Lodi, the RRV, the DCV, the PasoRobles, the SantaCruzMtn...but only on a good day. But to pick out the Sodini, the Kirschenmann, the Deaver, the Bedrock...no friggin' way. To tell the truth, I cannot think of a single vnyd in Calif, or the World, that has a sufficiently distinctive signature that I could accurately identify a wine as coming from that vnyd. Ahhhhhh...the burden I must carry for having a wooden palate!!
11. Background stuff for the SFWG:
Carlisle is a winery that started in the garage of their home in SantaRosa in the early '90's by Mike & Kendall Officer. He became commercial in 1998, making his wine at SiduriWnry. After doing that for two yrs, they moved to a nearby Copain custom-crush facility, where he gradually expanded over the next 13 yrs. Outgrowing that space (and the concomitant headaches of a shared facility), he bought the old MeullerWnry in nearby Windsor and had his first crush there in 2013. He is, as we speak, doubling the size of the wnry by adding a barrel storage facility. www.CarlisleWinery.com
Bedrock is a wnry that started about 2007. It is owned by Morgan Twain-Peterson; aided by his father, Joel Peterson. Joel founded (along w/ Reed Foster) the RavenswoodWnry in 1976 and became famous as a master of Zinfandel. He sold Ravenswood to ConstellationBrands about 1999, but has remained as the consulting winemaker for their single-vnyd Zins. Joel and Morgan bought the very old Bedrock vnyd in the early 2000's and returned it to
Both Mike and Morgan are part of a cabal of Sonoma winemakers whose focus is making wines from very old/Heritage vnyds (www.HistoricVineyardSociety.org). They also include TeganPassalaqua/TurleyCllrs and JakeBilbro/LimerickLaneWnry and DaveGates/Ridge. According to Mike, this sort of comparative tasting of Bedrock/Carlisle has never been done, though they oftentimes get together to taste each others wines.
The object of this tasting is not to determine who makes the best wines. It offers a unique opportunity, however, to better understand the winemaking style of the two wnrys and, hopefully, get a grasp on the terroirs of the respective vnyds. Probably not gonna happen, though.
Some Stuff (from MikeOfficer):
1. Our Kirschenmanns were picked from the same rows at the same time. We loaded each bin trailer with 2 of his bins and 1 of mine and filled them concurrently.
2. Morgan's Papera is from a block that is 50% Zin, 43% Carignane, and 7% mixed blacks. Ours comes from two blocks that average about 94% Zin and 6% Carignane.
3. Our Monte Rosso's are essentially from the same block. Morgan's is more mid-slope while ours is at the top. I recall us picking a few days apart.
4. Our Sodini's were picked at the same time, similar to how we picked at Kirschenmann. Fruit was split 50/50. One bin trailer would have 2 Bedrock bins and 1 Carlisle bin and the other would have 2 Carlisle and 1 Bedrock.
I recall a third bin trailer in which we would alternate 2 and 1 and 1 and 2.
5. Pagani? I don't recall for certain when Morgan picked but I'm pretty sure it was on the same day as me. Our blocks are side by side so not a huge difference vineyard-wise.