2015 Carlton Hill Tournament Estate
Reserve Pinot Noir
VINOUS 92 POINTS
(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.
The 2015 vintage was the second of three straight vintages I refer to as the California years. Bud break was almost complete by March 31st and bloom was finished by the end of May. The spring was warm and the summer that followed was hot. In terms of degree days, I believe 2015 remains the hottest year on record. Thankfully, the yields were larger and by hanging fruit longer, we were able to extend the growing season without too much dehydration. Early September rains helped mightily in rehydrating the grapes as well as did cooler temperatures. Vintages like 2015 also remind us how lucky we are to have eastern facing slopes.
As you might imagine, the 2015 harvest came earlier as well. And surprisingly, our older blocks, 777 and 115, were picked first on September 13th. The Pommard and Wadenswil, due to their youth, shut down during the numerous heat spikes, delaying ripeness and final harvest until September 21. Ultimately, 350 cases were devoted to our Estate Pinot Noir while 96 cases, four barrels, were selected for our Tournament Reserve.
As for the wines, both the 2015 Estate and 2015 Tournament Reserve are powerful, full bodied wines, with bright black cherry and raspberry flavors on the palate and exceptional length on the finish. While the alcohol levels of the 2015 vintage did reach 14%, ample ripe tannins as well as good natural acidity, approximately 3.6 PH in bottle, create surprisingly balanced, age worthy wines which pair well with both red meat and game dishes. The Estate Pinot Noir was aged for 11 months in 20 % new French oak while the Tournament Reserve, a 50% blend of 777 and 115 grapes, was bottled after 18 months in 35% new French oak. Twenty five percent of both releases derived from whole cluster ferments. Enjoy!