Awards 2018-03-27T18:36:17+00:00

Awards and Reviews

Over the years, Carlton Hill wines have won their share of accolades. Listed below are the honors earned by our wines:

2015 Vintage Awards & Press

2015 Carlton Hill Wine Company Estate Pinot Noir Tournament Reserve
• 92 pts – VINOUS (Tanzer)

(Made from a selection of the winemaker’s four favorite barrels.) Limpid ruby-red. Sexy, mineral-tinged cherry and dark berry preserve aromas take on floral and cola nuances with air. Sweet and expansive in the mouth, offering juicy black raspberry and cherry cola flavors and suggestions of white pepper and rose pastille. Nicely energetic for its power, finishing with solid punch, sneaky tannins and a touch of vanilla. — Josh Raynolds

2015 Carlton Hill Wine Company Estate Pinot Noir
• 90 pts – VINOUS (Tanzer)

Bright red. Medicinal cherry and red currant aromas, along with hints of musky earth, game and dried flowers. Chewy, focused and light on its feet, offering bitter cherry and licorice flavors and a refreshingly brisk jolt of peppery spices. Finishes long and smooth, with building tannins adding grip. I like the blend of fruit and savory qualities here. — Josh Raynolds

2014 Vintage Awards & Press

2014 Carlton Hill Wine Company Estate Reserve Pinot Noir
• 92 pts – VINOUS (Tanzer)

Full red. Potent, spice- and mineral-accented cherry, rose oil, sassafras and musky underbrush scents reveal a hint of smoked meat in the background. Sweet and pliant in the mouth, offering ripe dark fruit and spicecake flavors that tighten up and become more lively on the back half. Shows the generous character of the vintage to very good effect, finishing sappy and very long, with resonating spiciness and smooth, well-knit tannins that come in slowly. — Josh Raynolds

2014 Carlton Hill Wine Company Estate Pinot Noir
• 91 pts – VINOUS (Tanzer)

Brilliant red. Fresh raspberry and floral aromas are complicated by hints of allspice and cola. Silky and open-knit, offering lively red berry and cherry liqueur flavors that tighten up and become spicier on the back half. Shows very good energy and velvety texture on the persistent finish, which is framed by smooth, well-knit tannins. This is a sweeter, more fruit-driven wine than its 2015 sibling, which leans more toward the savory side of Pinot. — Josh Raynolds

2013 Vintage Awards & Press

2013 Carlton Hill Wine Company Estate Reserve Pinot Noir
• 91 pts – VINOUS (Tanzer)

Vivid red. Spice-tinged red berries, cherry pit, licorice and potpourri on the highly perfumed nose. Juicy, focused and light on its feet, offering sweet raspberry, cola and spicecake flavors and an exotic touch of blood orange. Shows very good focus and thrust on the finish, which is shaped by silky, slowly-building tannins. — Josh Raynolds

2013 Carlton Hill Wine Company Estate Pinot Noir
• 90 pts – VINOUS (Tanzer)

Pale red. Fresh, spice-accented raspberry, candied rose and a hint of smokiness on the perfumed nose. Silky and subtly sweet; a spine of juicy acidity adds vivacity and back-end lift. Fine-grained tannins sneak in on the clinging finish, which leaves behind a refreshingly bitter hint of orange pith. — Josh Raynolds

• 90 pts – Wine Advocate

The 2013 Pinot Noir has a clean, light and fresh red berry nose with subtle sous-bois scents developing in the glass. The palate is fresh on the entry with supple, fleshy tannin, plenty of red berry fruit and a sense of reserve on the finish that suits it well. This is thoughtfully crafted.

2012 Vintage Awards & Press

2012 Carlton Hill Wine Company Pinot Noir Estate Reserve
• 91 pts – Wine Advocate

The 2012 Pinot Noir Estate Reserve sees 50% new oak for 16 months. It has a luscious bouquet with red cherries, crushed strawberry and a hint of vanilla emanating from the oak. The palate is fleshy and smooth in the mouth, not a hair out of place here with sensual raspberry coulis, strawberry and dark chocolate notes on the finish. Excellent.

2012 Carlton Hill Wine Company Estate Pinot Noir
• 87 pts – Wine Advocate

The 2012 Pinot Noir has a conservative nose that is clean and “correct,” but does not quite deliver the complexity of the variety. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin and well-judged acidity, the finish gaining a little more conviction than the aromatics with red plum and allspice on the finish. Fine.

• 89 pts – VINOUS (Tanzer)

Bright red. Spice-accented raspberry, cherry and candied rose scents show a hint of smokiness in the background. Juicy and plush on the palate, offering bitter cherry and raspberry flavors with suggestions of succulent herbs and cracked pepper. A blood orange flourish adds a refreshingly bitter edge to the finish, which hangs on with good, spicy tenacity. — Josh Raynolds

2011 Vintage Awards & Press

2011 Carlton Hill Wine Company Pinot Noir Estate Whole Cluster
• 90 pts – VINOUS (Tanzer)

Light bright red. Fresh and energetic on the nose, displaying delicate red berry, Asian spice and mineral scents; a suave floral note builds in the glass. Zesty and light on its feet, offering tangy red currant and strawberry flavors that deepen slowly as the wine opens up. Closes juicy and smooth, showing very good persistence and just a hint of fine-grained tannins. — Josh Raynolds

• 89-90 pts – Wine Advocate

A fan of whole-cluster fermentation, Polite set aside two barrels vinified entirely vendange entier and at the time I tasted them was just a week from bottling them as 2011 Pinot Noir Estate Whole Cluster. Rose petal and rose wood; licorice and chocolate-covered orange rind; cherry and red currant make for a complex aromatic and gustatory performance, the faintly torrefied and oxidative elements presenting a bit of disharmony with the tart fresh side of the wine, but that may ultimately prove synergistic and is certainly distinctive. There is impressive sheer grip and plenty of primary juiciness in the finish of this firm Pinot that needs a few years, I suspect, to really show its personality and should prove worth following through at least 2018.

2011 Carlton Hill Wine Company Pinot Noir Estate
• 88 pts – VINOUS (Tanzer)

Light red. Aromas of red currant, dried cherry, rose oil and succulent herbs, plus a spicy touch of white pepper. Silky, subtly sweet and light on its feet, offering tangy red fruit and orange zest flavors and a hint of allspice on the back half. Closes dry and nervy, with a slightly hard edge and good persistence. — Josh Raynolds

2011 Carlton Hill Wine Company Pinot Noir Estate Reserve
• 88-89 pts – Wine Advocate

While only around 10% of whole clusters were included in the fermentation of the corresponding basic bottling, Polite’s 2011 Pinot Noir Estate Reserve – constituting a mere hundred cases worth, still residing in its four barrels when I tasted – was half vendange entier. A fascinatingly pungent nose brings juniper berry, licorice, orange rind, cinnamon and clove to bear on cherry and red currant that then inform a firm and delicate palate. The flavor fascination here follows in the direction adumbrated on the nose, but there is a faint drying in the finish that I attribute to the 50% new barrel. I’d tentatively plan to follow this through 2017 but with hopes of reassessing.

2011 Carlton Hill Wine Company Estate Pinot Noir
• 87 pts – Wine Advocate

An understated, relatively lightweight Carlton Hill 2011 Pinot Noir Estate is scented with sweat, beef broth and lentil, along with intimations of the red currant that then tartly informs the palate. While demure, the finish here is certainly as interesting as the nose led me to anticipate, and it preserves an admirable sense of primary juiciness, thus offering some genuine refreshment of the sort frequently encountered from this vintage. I would tentatively plan to enjoy it by 2016.

David Polite – who has been vinifying fruit from his Carlton Hill estate since 2002 – opined that “among the bizarre things about 2011 was that the really late veraison was interrupted when the vines began shutting down” during the short-lived early September heat-spike. “I’ve typically been picking earlier than my peers,” notes Polite, “but in 2011 you just had to wait,” and he did not harvest until October 26.

• 88 pts – VINOUS (Tanzer)

Light red. Aromas of red currant, dried cherry, rose oil and succulent herbs, plus a spicy touch of white pepper. Silky, subtly sweet and light on its feet, offering tangy red fruit and orange zest flavors and a hint of allspice on the back half. Closes dry and nervy, with a slightly hard edge and good persistence. — Josh Raynolds

2010 Vintage Awards & Press

2010 Carlton Hill Wine Company Pinot Noir Estate
• 88 pts – VINOUS (Tanzer)

Dark red. Musky red berries and dried flowers on the nose. Sappy and focused, offering bitter cherry and anise flavors that show a slightly rigid edge. Finishes with good energy and cut, leaving red fruit and peppery spice notes behind. — Josh Raynolds

Double Gold – 2012 Oregon Wine Awards
91 pts – Wine Advocate

Proprietor David Polite emphasized the enormous efforts it required to spare his 2010 Pinot Noir Estate from avian decimation. “I had to keep running back and forth across the vineyard every morning to scare off the birds,” he relates, for which purpose he employed a special pistol that discharged M-80s in their general direction, normal noisemaking having proven ineffective. It was worth it! Here is a Pinot as tart-edged, firm, and ultimately complex as its 2011 counterpart, but with none of the drying tendency noted in that wine. Bloody, roasted red meats and pit-inflected cherry are wreathed in Latakia tea smokiness on the nose, and bracing, finely tannic palate, leading to a finish whose sinister, forest floor intimations are fascinatingly juxtaposed with the tart brightness of cherry and with incisive nips of horseradish that convey intense invigoration. This is going to be fascinating to follow through at least 2018. (There is a small lot of reserve 2010, but Polite has cautiously postponed a decision on whether to release it, as it harbors a touch of brett whose evolution he wants to follow.)

David Polite – who has been vinifying fruit from his Carlton Hill estate since 2002 – opined that “among the bizarre things about 2011 was that the really late veraison was interrupted when the vines began shutting down” during the short-lived early September heat-spike. “I’ve typically been picking earlier than my peers,” notes Polite, “but in 2011 you just had to wait,” and he did not harvest until October 26. – Wine Advocate

2009 Vintage Awards & Press

2009 Carlton Hill Wine Company Pinot Noir Estate Reserve
• 91 pts – VINOUS (Tanzer)

Vivid ruby-red. Exotic, heady aromas of red and dark berry preserves, cola and smoky Indian spices. Cherry-vanilla and black raspberry flavors show very good depth and power, with gentle acidity adding lift and clarity. Finishes broad and smooth, with lingering spiciness and very good cling. This pinot is approachable now but has the depth to age. — Josh Raynolds

• Double Gold – 2012 Oregon Wine Awards
• Excellent – Wine Press NW

Carlton Hill planted its estate vineyard in 1999 and was expanded in 2008. All the grapes for owner/winemaker David Polite’s Estate Reserve Pinot Noir comes from these grapes. This wine opens with aromas of black currant candy, elderberries,blueberries and vanilla. On the palate, it reveals flavors of currants, black cherries, blackberries and chocolate orange sticks. Half the wine comprised 50% whole-cluster juice, and it was aged in oak for 19 months, half in new French oak. (105 cases, 13.5% alcohol)” – Wine Press NW

2009 Carlton Hill Wine Company Pinot Noir
• 88 pts – VINOUS (Tanzer)
• Silver – 2011 Oregon Wine Awards

Medium red. Redcurrant and cherry aromas are complemented by herb and smoke nuances, along with a hint of cracked pepper. Tightly wound and a bit tart, with good focus to the lively red berry and bitter cherry flavors. I like this wine’s energy but some more flesh would have been nice. The finish is tangy, refreshingly bitter and nicely persistent. – Josh Raynolds

2008 Vintage Awards & Press

2008 Carlton Hill Wine Company Pinot Noir Estate Reserve
• 92 pts – VINOUS (Tanzer)
• Gold Medal – 2011 Oregon Wine Awards

Bright ruby. Explosively perfumed, oak-accented nose evokes black raspberry, cherry-cola and smoky Indian spices, with a sneaky floral quality building with air. Sappy, densely packed red and dark berry flavors show liqueur-like intensity but are impressively energetic. The spicy quality comes back strong on the finish, which clings with very good tenacity. I’d let this one age for at least another few years. — Josh Raynolds

2008 Carlton Hill Wine Company Pinot Noir Estate
• 90 pts – VINOUS (Tanzer)

Bright ruby-red. High-pitched aromas of raspberry, cherry and rose, with an appealing spicecake quality and a hint of vanilla. Juicy, focused and spicy on the palate, offering incisive red fruit flavors that give way to a deeper cherry quality on the back half. Finishes on a smoky note, with very good length and a repeating spice note. Drinks well now but has the balance to age. — Josh Raynolds

2007 Vintage Awards & Press

2007 Carlton Hill Wine Company Pinot Noir Estate
• 91 pts – Wine Advocate
• Silver Medal – 2010 Oregon Wine Awards

Picked on September 30 and at 14% natural alcohol – before some of the worst of the vintage’s rains – Polite’s Carlton Hill 2007 Pinot Noir Estate can be added to the considerable list of wines from this very difficult and hence much-maligned harvest that nowadays taste terrific. (And bear in mind that this is from very young vines.) Smoky, earthy pungency of peat, humus and burley tobacco mingle with fresh red raspberry, shadowed by framboise distillate. The piquancy of cherry pit and crunch of raspberry seed practically burst with intensity in a juicy and sustained finish, with a saline streak serving to practically light up the salivary glands. I can’t imagine this failing to impress through at least 2015.

David Polite – who has been vinifying fruit from his Carlton Hill estate since 2002 – opined that “among the bizarre things about 2011 was that the really late veraison was interrupted when the vines began shutting down” during the short-lived early September heat-spike. “I’ve typically been picking earlier than my peers,” notes Polite, “but in 2011 you just had to wait,” and he did not harvest until October 26.  – Wine Advocate