TN: 2011 Carlisle Syrah Papa's Block

I didn’t see any past threads on this wine so here is a fresh note to at least solicit a few other comments from the Carlisle heads. Great wine for a beautiful So Cal evening. Thanks for reading.

  • 2011 Carlisle Syrah Papa’s Block - USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (7/22/2014)
    Second bottle this year, with prior bottle being part of the Carlisle dinner we did in May. That bottle was part of a dozen others we tasted so the bottle for the note here is being tasted alone, with a day of air and proper temp. So what’s here this time? There is certainly acid, and as compared to past Papa’s, say 2007, I enjoy this 2011 better. Mix of some purple flower aromatics and light stem/cluster, with a palate of tar, zesty licorice, red and black charry fruit and some espresso. I find some creaminess too that adds a plushness and all together, the wine has moderate complexity and a good, zesty finish. All in, I probably would like this a bit more if it had some of the depth of the 2007 but given the vintage, Mike did a fine job with this wine. Drink window? I don’t see this being a long ager, and in fact I would recommend to drink now and for the next 3-4 years.

Posted from CellarTracker

I probably won’t check in on this for 3-4 years. Still have an 08 or two to go until I start in on 09 Carlisle Syrah.

Thanks for the note, Frank. I have a couple of these and will put one on the list to drink in the near future.


I go through a LOT of this. Such a killer QPR that it is a house wine, and gets consumed accordingly. Am I doing these a disservice? I just stashed a 6 pack from the last order, and will continue to do the same over the next 3-4 years. Do these get better with a few years on them?

Yes, 07 Papa’s was terrific last winter.

Sweet spot for me on Carlisle syrahs is about 5yrs of bottle age. Mine never make it that long, but every time I get to taste one with a little age I wish I had held them a bit longer.

Thanks for the note. Surprised you have a short drinking window. I usually wait on these longer. Decisions…

I saved about a glass for tonight so will try later and offer a final thought.

Away we go…last glass. This wine has picked up enough weight that it’s quite nice now and the fruit is nicely present. Yes, acidity is here but the red fruit has made its way over to blue and black and it’s lively, balanced and quite good. Several of you guys said age the wine for 3-4 years. I suppose so, although I put my vote forward again that I don’t see what this gets us for this bottle. I find it quite nice now and I don’t see what age will get us for this vintage and what I find here. Kind of like delaying what seems to me is a pretty satisfying wine for the sake of saying we aged it?

Frank - it sounds to me like the '11 is an outlier. I have actually stopped buying Mike’s syrahs as they are just too big for my palate. I think he is looking for new sites so maybe he will find some that present a cooler more structured profile.

Frank, such a great line! More and more, I’m starting to realize that if I open a wine and love it, well…why wait? Seriously, if the word “love” pops in my mind when tasting a wine it’s all the reason to drink now, potential be damned. After all, they do say that love is fleeting…so why risk it?

That aside, thx for a great note on what sounds like an awesome wine…one which based on rep I’ll be holding for at least 4 years before tasting neener

Russ, even the Rosella’s? Had the 2011 on Monday and it seemed to be anything but…so filled with black pepper, violets, cassis and quite elegant, imho.

Then again, Mike’s 2011s are pretty much awesome in general!

And that’s truly a wonderful thing.

I get some good natured crap around here about drinking my wines too young but I also believe in a philosophy that tomorrow, I don’t know what it will bring, but I can enjoy a glass now and not treat the bottle like a museum piece. I’m being tongue in cheek with the museum crack but I am also speaking in truths for me. What do I get by letting this great bottle that Mike crafted sit and wait for 4 years? Please, I am not criticizing Doc, Russ or anyone else for aging wines, just prompting for discussion and stating what I believe, that’s all. I do age some wines, but I’m not sure what I get by aging a 2011 CA syrah that drinks this well now.

Russ, I’m with Alex. I do believe Mike will make some wines that are not in the category you are describing, like the Rosella’s, which I buy. I won’t buy the James Berry, too big for me, as much as the recent 2006 tasted to me. But Mike makes high quality syrah and I also don’t want to find myself sitting around thinking about Allemand or Jamet all the time, either. Diversity is still good, within a band I can live with, like the 2011 Papa’s.

Frank - I’m obviously squarely in the patience is a good thing camp, but hey, ease up on me here as I wasn’t busting your chops in this case. It sounds like the '11 Carlisle syrahs may be drinking well young due to the cool vintage. I agree that diversity is good, but dang those northern Rhone syrahs are mighty fine. I still enjoy CA syrahs, it just seems my palate prefers syrahs made by winemakers who produce pinots in the style I prefer, i.e., Rhys, Arcadian, Copain. Bedrock may be the exception here, but I’ll need a few more years to make a definitive decision.

I lost all my teeth many years ago so there’s nothing to bust, man. [rofl.gif]

To me they get a little more harmonious, more expressive nose, and softer mouthfeel. I would agree the transformation is subtle, but it’s there. I think this is most true of the Rosella’s. I generally buy Carlisle to drink while waiting on old world wines to age, and so it’s rare to have a Carlisle older than 2-3yrs in my house. They are certainly good young.
Regarding the '11 papa’s I found it a bit angular and thought a couple years will help it–but to be truthful ill likely drink mine young with a longer decant next time.

It does seem from your tn that you enjoyed the wine more night #2 Frank? I normally take this to mean a wine is still evolving and in need of bottle age; I so rarely remember to uncork bottles 24 H before the meal they are to accompany.

The weather finally cooled this past weekend in our part of the Bay Area, so I decided to open this to share with some neighbors. Frank’s note is pretty much on the mark, as I also found the wine surprisingly approachable. It was so tasty, unfortunately, there was no way it was going to make it to Day 2. It did evolve over the course of a few hours. There was a bit of a smoky component to the wine that paired very nicely with the grilled sesame-marinated chicken. It doesn’t get any better than good friends and a good wine to share. We also had a 2007 Rafanelli Zin, and that is right in the wheelhouse right now. Drink them and enjoy them if you have them!


Here is an update to my thread from 3 years ago. I believe strongly in writing honest notes and I also tend to drink and buy what I like. Hell, why taste and drink stuff this isn’t to one’s liking? Life’s too short. This explains perhaps to some why many of my TNs are positive–I like the stuff I buy and drink. As for this Carlisle, as much as the recent 2009 Kutch McDougall, I didn’t care for that wine and this Carlisle falls short, too. For so many, many bottles of Mike’s wines I have drank the past 15 years, very few bottles I didn’t care for and I just think this 2011 is about as good as it will be.

  • 2011 Carlisle Syrah Papa’s Block - USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (9/3/2017)
    I saw some of this on Winebid this week so figured I’d open my final bottle with the option to backfill. I opened this bottle about 90 mins ago, and started sipping on it. FWIW, this bottle too was sourced from Winebid, and my point isn’t to make a veiled poke at that source, but this bottle was not from my own mailing list allocation. Take that as simply a data point. Now, why do I say this? I say it because this bottle is boring to me. It lacks energy and complexity. Yes, I know this is 2011 and this was not a great vintage–I know that. But, this bottle is simple in tone. Some pepper, a little bit of steak sauce, some tang and then some finishing light chocolate but very but very little structure and all together, disappointing. It had been 3 weeks since I had a good glass of red wine, and thought maybe this would deliver better but it didn’t. Take my review as you wish, amongst the others here, but I’m telling it as I see it. I would recommend you drink these now if you have them.

Posted from CellarTracker

06 papas from carlisle was stunning last night.