AWG Correspondent

Rob Boss

Twelve Wine Photos

Twelve Wine Review

Regions: Willamette Valley AVA, Yamhill-Carlton Region, Oregon

Reviewed: November 29, 2015 by Rob Boss
Published: April 6, 2016

(Photos by Jai Soots)

According to the tasting room attendant, Twelve’s name comes from the scene in This is Spinal Tap, where Nigel Tufnel explains that his amplifiers “go up to 11—” and their wine is a little more than that. Well, OK then. It’s a tastefully appointed, long thin room at the end of the block on Main Street, Carlton, Oregon.

The winery is owned and operated by John and Linda Lenyo. John and Linda moved to Oregon from New Jersey in 1996 and produced their first vintage in 2003. The wines are made from the couple's 12.5 acre, dry-farmed, LIVE-certified vineyard located in the southwest corner of the Yamhill-Carlton AVA.

Our wine maven, Erica, kicked off our tasting with their 2012 Estate White, made from 80% Pinot Blanc and 20% Pinot Gris. There were nice, accessible melon and lime notes on the nose, followed by honeydew melon, apple and pear flavors on the palate.

We moved on to Pinot Noir, with the small production (85 cases) 2011 Reserve. Although not unexpected, the lively bright cherry and spice nose was lovely. There was a mouthful of rich ripe cherry and red plum flavors. The 2012 Reserve she poured next was an eye opener in its own right, because the character was all the above, but more: everything was riper, richer and darker than before.

Hearing the phrase “whole cluster” always sets me up with positive anticipation and Twelve’s 2012 Whole Cluster did not disappoint, even if it’s actually only 1/3 whole cluster. It is, however, 100% Pommard clone, and this could be one of those wines sommelier teachers use to teach basics: an intense cherry and spicy sage nose, with ripe cherry and red fruit flavors, all typical of the Pommard clone, plus ripe intensity of Oregon’s 2012 vintage. Nothing was out of place on this wine; quiet elegance.

Yet another unfortunately named wine, Uh Huh, is a selection of one to three outstanding barrels of “bigger” years. In this case it was 2012 and is 2/3 Dijon clone and 1/3 Wadenswille. It was showing well, with fresh, ripe cherry flavors and aromatics, but this is an ageable wine to hold on to; not silky yet, but it will be, and worth the wait.

We got lucky. There were a couple of older wines from the cellar open that day, starting with an excellent Pinot Noir from 2008 that had scored 90 points in Wine Spectator a few years before. The nose showed crushed fruit and spice, with beautiful, luscious, silky cherry and juicy, intense, ripe fruit flavors.

Last up was the 2007 “144.” The name 144 means 12 squared. Of course it does. The spicy nose still showed the wonderfully intense briar note that distinguished the 2007 vintage. It was fantastic, with more ripe, silky, cherry and raspberry goodness and a long finish.

Along with the aforementioned agreeable quirks, Twelve Wine offers a lot of great value. With its place on the end of the street, it’s probably a good beginning for your wine tasting visit—especially since the people on the other end of the street (Barking Frog) are offering bigger, more robust varietals. Plus, you wouldn’t want to end up at Twelve after the budget’s already been blown. Your dollar buys a lot of quality at Twelve, and you find, of course, that it’s no coincidence that there are also twelve bottles in a case.

Address & Contact Information: 214 Main Street Carlton, Oregon 97111. Telephone: 503-435-1212, email:, website: Tasting Hours: Fri-Sun 12:00-5:00.

Overall Rating:  

Red Wine White Wine Service View/Ambiance

More information about Twelve Wine

Explore Oregon wineries

Explore Willamette Valley AVA wineries

Explore Yamhill-Carlton Region wineries