It’s a wrap!

We’ve just completed our 24th harvest here at Belle Pente. Ninety-two barrels of estate vineyard Pinot Noir (along with 6 of Gamay!) are now tucked safely away in the cellar. The vintage was certainly not without it’s challenges, but I’m thrilled with the quality of these young estate wines. The October weather that we got during September allowed complex flavors and aromas to develop in the vineyard without accumulating high sugars that can drive up alcohol levels. Although the weather conditions at harvest might conjure up memories of 2013 (or even 1997), the wines show riper, more fully developed flavor and textural profiles than those vintages. It will be fun to watch them evolve over the next few years!

But now we’d like to direct your attention to some of the wines that we’ve been nurturing for the past few years, and introduce you to the “Sweet Sixteens”: our top wines from the 2016 vintage. The 2016 growing season was a carbon copy of 2015 for much of the year, but diverged for a while in late spring. A bit of erratic weather during flowering set the stage for a smaller crop, with fewer and smaller bunches than recent previous years. The roller coaster ride continued through the summer, which saw either warmer or cooler than normal spells with very little “typical” Oregon summer. Harvest started 3 days later than 2015 (which was our earliest ever) on September 8th, and finished 4 days earlier than 2015 on September 20th (our earliest finish ever)! The final crop ended up down about 30% from the abundance of 2015, creating very concentrated wines that still retain a sense of balance and finesse.

This message highlights the release of a half dozen new wines, most from the 2016 vintage. Although some of these have been available at the winery for several months, this is the first time that they’ve been offered via email and on the web site. Leading the way are our single vineyard wines from 2016, the Belle Pente and Murto Vineyard Pinot Noirs, which are the “heart and soul” of what we do here at Belle Pente. Joining them for 2016 (and 2016 only) is a special, very limited production cuvee from Bella Vida Vineyard, right down the road from Murto in the Dundee Hills, that was created for the Grand Seminar at the International Pinot Noir Celebration last year. And last but definitely not least, we are proud to offer our 2016 Estate Reserve Pinot Noir, the best-of-the-best from our Belle Pente estate vineyard. Taken together, this group of “Sweet Sixteens” represents perhaps the most compelling array of wines we’ve offered to date, and we’ve created a specially priced “Sweet Sixteen” Sampler Selection with three bottles of each.

For those of you looking for the ultimate Tuesday/Wednesday wine, meet our 2017 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, the first of our Pinots from this vintage. Exclusively sourced from Yamhill-Carlton and Dundee Hills vineyards (including our Belle Pente estate and Murto), this is a wine that always shows well above it’s relatively humble appellation. To celebrate it’s release, we’re featuring an updated version of our popular “Secrets of the Savvy Somms” package, with new releases of the wines that have made Belle Pente one of the top labels in great dining establishments across the country. This years version includes 4 bottles each of the 2017 Willamette Valley, 2016 Belle Pente, and 2015 Murto Vineyard Pinot Noirs. With the holidays approaching, this selection makes a terrific gift for the special Pinot-philes on your list (or even for yourself)!

And since not all humans can survive on a Pinot-only diet, we’re pleased to introduce our 2016 Estate Chardonnay. If you haven’t caught on to what’s going on in the Willamette Valley with Chardonnay, now is the time to start exploring! These wines offer the best of both worlds: the crisp freshness of old-world versions, and the ripe, tropical fruit of the new world.

As we head into the holiday season, we want to express our gratitude once again for your continuing support of our little wine-growing enterprise. As the wider world of wine becomes more corporate and industrialized, having a core constituency that can distinguish and appreciate genuine, hand-crafted wines is critical to the survival of those of us committed to creating them. Thank you!