Trade resources for Belle Pente's wines, including our distribution network and list of our current releases.
Current Releases in Distribution
Welcome to our Week of Wine!
Twice a year, we put together a special seasonal selection of ready-to-drink wines to provide a full week (or two!) of delicious wines to accompany your evening (or afternoon!) meals. Choose a selection of 6 white or 6 red wines in half (1 bottle of each) or full (2 bottles of each) cases, or a full mixed case of both (1 bottle of each).
Follows are the WOW white selections for this fall:
Tuesday: 2014 Belle Oiseau with oysters on the half shell (why not!)
Wednesday: 2013 Pinot Gris with left-over Banh Mi from lunch
Thursday: 2009 Riesling with cracked crab
Friday: 2006 Gewurztraminer with raclette
Saturday: 2012 Estate Chardonnay with baked halibut
Sunday: 2013 Willamette Valley Chardonnay with goat cheese gnocchi
Half case White (1 bottle of each) - $125 + tax and shipping
Full case White (2 bottles of each) - $235 + tax and shipping
And the reds:
Tuesday: 2014 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir with leftover pizza
Wednesday: 2014 Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir with burgers
Thursday: 2013 Murto Vineyard Pinot Noir with wild mushroom risotto
Friday: 2014 Belle Pente Vineyard Pinot Noir with pork tenderloin
Saturday: 2013 Estate Reserve Pinot Noir with teriyaki broiled salmon
Sunday: 2014 Murto Vineyard Pinot Noir with Moroccan lamb stew
Half case Red (1 bottle of each) - $209 + tax and shipping
Full case Red (2 bottles of each) - $389 + tax and shipping
Full case Red & White (1 bottle of each) - $309 + tax and shipping
But what about Monday???
You have 3 choices under the WOW program:
1. Drink water
2. Drink beer
3. Finish any week-end wine that may be left-over in your fridge!
Since it's first release in 1997, our Estate Reserve Pinot Noir has always represented "the best of the best" from our Belle Pente estate vineyard each year. It is a wine intended for 10 years in the cellar, but in fruit forward, friendly vintages like 2014 it is approachable (and eminently enjoyable!) much earlier.
The core components always include individual barrels selected from our original 1994 planting, which is a scant acre of mixed selections (mostly 777 and 115) that consistently produce the most complex wines in the cellar. Just under a third (30%) of the grapes in this 2014 version are from this tiny section of the vineyard.
The biggest portion (40%) comes from our steep 1.5 acre south-west facing block planted in 1998 to the Wadensvil selection of Pinot noir. Due to it's pitch and orientation, this block has very thin soil (only 18 inches deep) that yields small grapes with very concentrated flavors and aromas.
These two blocks represent the "crown jewels" of our estate vineyard, and the vines in these sections receive "special handling" throughout the growing season to help them maximize their potential. In the cellar, the wines are raised in a higher percentage of new barrels than our other single vineyard wines, and after bottling get to rest longer before release.
In 2014, due to the hot summer, the grapes were harvested early in a very narrow "window" between September 18th and 20th. No whole clusters were utilized, and fermentation was conducted with ambient and vineyard selected yeasts. The wine was raised for 18 months in French oak barrels (56% new) prior to gravity bottling on June 1st, 2016, and held for another 18 months in bottle before release.
This terrific young wine was a star of the show at the International Pinot Noir Celebration last summer, and is just reaching the beginning of what will surely be a long drinking window. True to its Yamhill-Carlton appellation, the wine shows concentrated, dark fruit flavors and aromas accented with notes of fresh herbs and flowers. It is one of those rare vintages that offers early appeal as well as the potential for 10-20 years in the cellar. So put a case (or two!) away and drink a bottle every year until it's gone. You'll be glad you did!
422 Cases + 150 Magnums Produced
Our 2015 Willamette Valley Pinot noir includes grapes from 4 vineyards, all located in the elite appellations of Yamhill-Carlton and Dundee Hills. The Yamhill-Carlton sites account for 2/3 of the blend, with most of the fruit coming from our Belle Pente estate vineyard, supplemented by a small portion from Fox Rock vineyard. Dundee Hills is represented by Murto and Bella Vida vineyards.
This diversity of sources has created perhaps the most complex and compelling of our "entry level" Pinots to date. The 2015 vintage was generous in both quantity and quality, elevating the status of this delicious little cuvee well above it's humble appellation and modest price. A somewhat reticent nose reveals hints of red, blue, and black fruits complicated by whiffs of spice box and herb garden. The medley of fruits carries through to the palate, which is rich and ripe but also focused and balanced.
This is a Pinot with pedigree. The 2008 and 2013 renditions were the highest rated wines in the New York Times annual Oregon Pinot "round-up", and the best values. Our Willamette Valley bottling has been regularly featured as a premium glass pour Pinot at great restaurants around the country. And it has been the "go to" Wednesday night wine for savvy Pinot-philes everywhere since it's first release in the 1998 vintage.
This is our first release from the 2015 vintage, which in many ways is a mirror image of the 2014 growing season: an early start, very warm summer, and mid-September harvest. There is an added dimension of balance and complexity in the 2015 wines that is difficult to discern with the 2014s, but ultimately the similarities between the vintages trump the differences. Enjoy now and over the next several years!
894 cases produced
This is our 18th consecutive bottling of vineyard designated wine from Mike and Robin Murto's outstanding old vines (planted in 1978) high in the Dundee Hills. Although this mature vineyard tends to deliver the goods every year, the high elevation makes it a fairly cool site, and in warm vintages like 2014 creates something very special indeed!
The 2014 growing season started in mid-April, and accelerated with temperatures hitting the 90s during the first week of May. Bloom occurred in early-to-mid June, two weeks ahead of normal, setting us up for an early harvest. The summer was characterized by warm days and very warm nights; lows were only in the mid 60s rather than the high 50s that we generally experience with our maritime climate.
Harvest at Murto commenced on the 23rd of September and concluded on October 3rd, the earliest start and finish ever! The grapes were vinified with a small fraction of whole cluster that helped us extend macerations to 18-21 days, and then aged in barrel (30% new French oak) for 18 months. The wine was gravity bottled on May 11th, 2016.
Fans of riper style Pinots will find a lot to love in this wine. Compact aromas of raspberry and baking spice require a little bit of coaxing, but with air become quite expressive. There is a density on the palate reflective of the vintage, but also a freshness. It is both backward and forward at the same time, displaying a compelling complexity that bodes well for the cellar.
Standing in stark contrast to the leaner, racier 2013, it celebrates the diversity of vintage that we are blessed (and sometimes cursed!) with here in the Willamette Valley. Enjoy some of this hedonistic young wine now, but put some away to watch it gain sophistication with age.
573 Cases Produced
The 2014 growing season burst out of the gates during the second week of April, and accelerated with temperatures hitting the 90s during the first week of May. Bloom occurred in early June, two weeks ahead of normal, setting us up for an early harvest. The summer was characterized by warm days interspersed with some dramatic thunder showers, and very warm nights; lows were only in the mid 60s rather than the high 50s that we generally experience with our maritime climate.
The grapes for this "flagship" Pinot from our Belle Pente Estate vineyard were harvested over three days from the 18th through the 20th of September. More than 2/3 of the grapes came from 3 blocks planted in 1998 with south and south east exposure. This is the coolest section of the vineyard, with plenty of morning sun, but shielded from the intense afternoon heat that we get in the west-facing blocks.
Six different selections of Pinot Noir from six different vineyard sections are represented in this blend. Roughly half are the "classic" Oregon workhorses (Pommard and Wadensvil), with the balance being a melange of the upstart Dijon selections. The clonal and block diversity yields beguiling aromatic complexity and textural completeness.
Look for flavors and aroma of ripe blackberry and wild black cherry, accented with licorice, rose petal and violet, and wild thyme. The wine is lush and supple on the palate, with lingering soft silky tannins balanced by vibrant acidity.
619 Cases Produced
The early part of the 2013 growing season will be remembered as a virtual "carbon copy" of 2012. Bud-break occurred "on schedule" around the 15th of April, and flowering progressed under variable conditions during the the second and third weeks of June. Summer kicked-off at the end of that month with a few days creeping into the 90s, and a lovely Oregon summer persisted through the third week of August.
But around Labor Day the seasons diverged dramatically with a series of progressively stronger fall storms hitting during September. The unsettled weather forced our hand and necessitated harvesting early at relatively low sugars, but thankfully with excellent physiological ripeness. This was especially true in our Belle Pente estate vineyard, where our relatively low elevation and western exposure provide us with a very warm site that can be a huge advantage in cooler vintages.
The 2013 wines in general tend to be more old-world than new-world in style, with great underlying structure but enough forward fruit to make them approachable today. This is certainly the case with this top cuvee from our estate vineyard, as described by Josh Raynolds of Vinous (formerly Steve Tanzer's International Wine Cellar):
Dark red. A highly aromatic bouquet evokes fresh red fruits, incense and Asian spices, along with bright mineral and floral overtones. Juicy and precise on the palate, offering alluringly sweet raspberry preserve, lavender pastille and spicecake flavors that deepen and spread out slowly with air. Delivers a suave blend of power and elegance, finishing with silky, harmonious tannins and excellent clarity and floral-driven persistence. 93pts. Drinking window 2018 - 2024
The Estate Reserve is always a barrel selection from the best parts of the vineyard, including our original 1994 planting. This 2013 version is 35% from this block, planted primarily to the Dijon 115 and 777 selections of Pinot noir. But the core of the cuvee (55%) hails from a steep south-west facing block planted in 1998 to the Wadensvil selection, which imparts the spicy notes and smooth tannins described above.
The grapes were harvested in a very narrow "window" between September 18th and 20th, prior to the first major rain. No whole clusters were utilized, and fermentation was conducted with ambient and selected yeasts. The wine was raised for 18 months in French oak barrels (50% new) prior to gravity bottling in the late spring of 2015, and held for another 18 months in bottle before release.
This terrific young wine is just reaching the beginning of what will surely be a long drinking window, so put a case (or two!) in your cellar and drink a bottle every year until it's gone. You'll be glad you did!
228 Cases + 120 Magnums Produced
1-11 Bottles: $49/bottle
Bottle in Mixed Case: $44.10/Bottle (10% Off)
Full Case: $41.58/Bottle, $499 Total (15% Off)
The bountiful harvest of 2014, bolstered by a warm growing season, created many terrific winemaking opportunities, including this drop-dead delicious Pinot noir that can grace your Wednesday night table for less than 30 bucks. Made from 100% "de-classified" estate fruit (ie barrels that were "left over" after we created our Belle Pente Vineyard and Estate Reserve blends), this fresh, friendly, fruit-forward wine is a delight to drink today, but could certainly be cellared for several years as well.
All 8 of our Pinot noir blocks contributed to this blend, with roughly half of the fruit coming from sections planted in 1999 to the Dijon 114 and 115 selections. Another quarter is comprised of fruit from our prized Pommard block (planted in 1998), and the balance includes small percentages of Wadensvil, Dijon 113, and 777. This clonal diversity provides a complexity that is rare in such an inexpensive bottling.
This cuvee delivers a great expression of both the vintage and the appellation. Wines from the warm 2014 growing season tend to be soft and supple, but balanced with adequate levels of acid and tannin. So they are lush and rich on the plate, but also crisp and clean. Flavors and aroma of dark berries are complimented with violet and anise notes. Fewer than 15% of the barrels used were new, and over half were at least 4 years old, so the time and place can shine, unencumbered by barrel influence.
Enjoy this wine today with hearty week-night fare!
892 cases produced
The 2013 growing season was preceded by normal temperatures and relatively dry conditions during the winter, and commenced with bud-break around the 15th of April. Summer-like conditions in early May were followed by many cool and rainy days during the second half of the month, which extended into flowering during the the second and third weeks of June, resulting in a less than optimal fruit set. Summer kicked-off at the end of June with a few days creeping into the 90s, and a lovely Oregon summer persisted through the third week of August.
The summer then came to a rather abrupt end with a series of progressively stronger fall storms hitting during September. The unsettled weather forced our hand and necessitated harvesting early at relatively low sugars, but thankfully good physiological ripeness, resulting in delightful, medium-bodied, low alcohol wines. The 2013 wines tend to be more old-world than new-world in style, with great underlying structure but enough forward fruit to make then quite enjoyable today.
This "flagship" Pinot from our Belle Pente Estate vineyard includes grapes from all 8 blocks ranging in age from 12 to 19 years. It is primarily from the cooler east side of the vineyard, which gets plenty of morning sun, but is shielded from the intense afternoon heat that we get in the west-facing blocks. Look for ripe cranberry and blueberry aromas accented with fresh herbs and flowers, soft silky tannins, and fresh acidity.
595 Cases Produced
All the news is good regarding the 2014 version of our insanely popular "entry level" Pinot noir! The terrific growing season yielded that rare combination of high quality and copious quantity. There is more of this little "Wednesday night wine" than ever before, and it may be the strongest rendition yet!
In 2014, the grape sources are split evenly between the elite appellations of Yamhill-Carlton and Dundee Hills. Half of the fruit is from our Belle Pente estate vineyard, featuring a wide diversity of micro-climates and clonal selections. Almost a third is from younger blocks at Murto vineyard, and the balance from steep slopes at neighboring Bella Vida vineyard. This diversity of soils and elevations has created a drop-dead delicious Willamette Valley bottling of impeccable pedigree.
The wine reflects the generosity of the growing season with a concentration and density rarely seen in this price range. It is redolent of red and blue fruit flavors and aromas nuanced with restrained spice, fresh herb, and floral undertones. It is a fairly compact package that becomes more compelling with aeration.
This wine is a perennial favorite of the New York Times tasting panel, and is often sold out even before the review is published. Don't miss out on your chance to put a case or two in your cellar for near-term enjoyment!
1304 cases produced
This Chardonnay is 100% estate grown in a little 2 acre parcel planted in 1999 on a steep slope with rows running up & down the hill from north-east to south-west. This 2012 version continues a string of very compelling wines that started with the 2004 vintage, and bears witness to the recent rebirth of exciting Chardonnays coming out of the Willamette Valley.
Like many of our neighbors, we are gravitating to 100% barrel fermentation, but with very modest use of new oak, typically in the 10-20% range. The wine spends a full year in barrel and often several months in tank before bottling, and is given at least a year in the bottle before release.
Echoing past vintages, this wine sports a dual personality of freshness and richness. Half of the grapes are picked early to capture bright citrus notes, and the balance remains longer on the vine to develop riper tropical fruit characteristics. We have pioneered the use of Oregon oak barrels in Chardonnay (a 50/50 mix with French oak), which helps elevate these ripe tropical notes and impart a seductive nutty quality reminiscent of great Meursault.
Enjoy this terrific full-bodied white now and for the next several years with rich seafood dishes, fresh garden pesto, and lightly smoked meats.
364 Cases Produced
2012 was a watershed vintage for our Belle Pente estate vineyard. The vines in four of our Pinot Noir blocks (planted in 1998) celebrated their 15th birthdays, making a marked transition from gangling teenagers to sophisticated young adults. Their grapes, nurtured by a near-perfect growing season, produced wines that parley adolescent exuberance with mature depth of character and class. This eloquent medley of elegance and energy has yielded what is perhaps our strongest Pinot Noir bottling ever!
From Josh Raynolds of Vinous (formerly Steve Tanzer's International Wine Cellar):
Brilliant ruby-red. A heady, strikingly pure bouquet evokes ripe red and dark berries, potpourri and Asian spices, along with suggestions of sassafras, cola and smoky minerals. At once concentrated and lithe, conveying superb energy and focus to its juicy raspberry, cherry and spicecake flavors. A suave floral quality emerges with air, carrying through a very long, sweet, gently tannic finish that leaves sappy red berry and rose pastille notes behind. Is this the best bottling yet to emerge from this winery, which has firmly established itself as one of America's finest sources of elegant Pinot Noir? One thing's for sure, it's an excellent value. 94 pts. Drinking window 2019 - 2024
As many of you know, the Estate Reserve is a barrel selection from the best parts of the vineyard, with the core of the blend coming from our original block planted in 1994 paired with our steep south-west facing block planted in 1998 to the Wadensvil selection of Pinot Noir. This years version also includes about 30% from our Pommard block (also planted in 1998) which has really come into it's own over the past several years.
As the vineyard matures, the process of selecting barrels for this bottling gets harder every year ... but the resulting wine seems to get better and better! Although the wine-making protocol for the estate reserve is essentially the same as for our single vineyard wines, there are a couple of notable exceptions. While all the top wines include a little bit of whole cluster, indigenous yeast fermentation, 18 month elevage, and gravity flow processing from fermenter all the way to the bottle, the Estate Reserve enjoys a slightly higher percentage of new barrels (about half) and longer aging in bottle prior to release (typically around 18 months). This imparts more structure for aging, and allows the wine to be released at the beginning of it's drinking window.
Put a case (or two!) in your cellar and drink a bottle every year until it's gone. You'll be glad you did!
377 Cases + 120 Magnums Produced
Winegrowers throughout the world covet old vines for their naturally low yields and complexity of flavors and aromas. But one key attribute that it sometimes overlooked is their remarkable resiliency. Older vines (like the ones in Mike and Robin Murto's Dundee Hills vineyard, planted in 1978) have the ability to withstand the often considerable adversity of unkind growing seasons. Through blistering drought or torrential downpours, they have an uncanny ability to shrug it off and do their business.
Such was the case in 2013. A pretty nice summer that echoed 2012 was abruptly interrupted by a series of tropical storms that slammed into western Oregon during September. Of all the Willamette Valley appellations, the timing of these rain events impacted the Dundee Hills the most. Although we were able to harvest most of the vineyard before the worst storm hit, the ultimate quality of the resulting wines was uncertain.
But somehow those gnarly old vines pulled it off! Although we certainly did our part in the winery with meticulous sorting and diligent culling, the credit for this delicious, medium bodied pinot rests squarely on the vines that grew it, and on the people that tended them all season.
Although the relatively low alcohol level invites comparison to cool years like 2010 and 2011, in reality this 2013 version bears only a vague resemblance to them. The shorter, more intense growing season in 2013 produced a wine with more forward appeal and less angular structure. It is really quite pleasant to drink today, and will only gain in depth and sweetness with several years in the cellar. Fans of more elegant, dare-we-say "Burgundian-style" wines will find a lot to love here, as will those allergic to hi-octane, 14+% alcohol behemoths. If you're nodding your head "yes", you will want to go long on 2013 starting right here! If not, snag yourself one of the few remaining cases of the 2012.
440 Cases Produced
The story here is very simple: extraordinary quality but excruciatingly low yields. We were just slightly over half of our normal target crop level for this vineyard. The grapes were harvested over 2 days on October 5th and 11th; the fruit was perfectly ripe, clean, and very tasty! From the very beginning, the young wines were quite compelling.
Mike and Robin Murto's Dundee Hills vineyard is a high elevation site that really shines in warmer vintages. Our oldest blocks there were planted in 1978, and produce interesting wine every year. But the combination of the very low yields and the terrific growing season created something very special in 2012. The wine has ripe red fruit flavors and aromas backed up by fresh acidity and silky tannins. For those of you who are interested in the "numbers", the wine has 13.9% alcohol, a pH of 3.46, and TA of 6.4 grams per liter. Berlitz translation: even though it is fruit forward, it should last forever!
As an aside, last summer we sat down with a small group of people "in the business" and tasted through 18 vintages of our Murto Pinot, from a pre-commercial wine made in 1994 through this 2012 edition. The "sweet spot" for the group was the 1999 through 2003 vintages, 10 to 15 years old. I'm sure that this 2012 will be stellar in 2025, but the good news is that you absolutely do not have to wait that long to enjoy it.
In classic Dundee Hills fashion, this wine displays ripe red fruit flavors and aromas reminiscent of cherry compote and raspberry eau d'vie, overlaid with the signature Murto baking spice, Asian spice, and pepper (white, black, and Sichuan!) aromatics. The palate is dense and concentrated, but also vibrant and fresh. It screams for traditional Pinot parings like roast duck or stuffed quail. Enjoy this delightful young Pinot today and over the next 20-30 years!
441 cases produced
Two thousand eleven was the latest harvest on record at Belle Pente. The grapes for this Murto Vineyard Pinot were actually picked during the first few days of November, and the wine went into barrel the day before Thanksgiving! Bud break occurred several weeks late, and warm, dry conditions during flowering in early July set the stage for a sizable crop. Given the "lateness" of the season, rigorous crop thinning was necessary to get the yields into a manageable range. Even with diligent work in the vineyard, we were just barely able to achieve full ripeness by the end of the season.
As fans of Mike and Robin Murto's Dundee Hills vineyard know, this is a high elevation site that can struggle to get ripe in cool vintages. However, these 30+ year-old vines somehow manage to pull it off every year! This particular wine started out "lean and mean", but went through a profound transformation during it's second winter in barrel, and has continued to evolve beautifully over it's first year in the bottle. This is perhaps our most "Burgundian" Pinot Noir to date, checking in at whopping 12.3% alcohol! It is fun to drink today, but has the balance and structure to age beautifully for many, many years.
We have made single vineyard Pinot Noir wines from Murto since 1996. Over the 16 vintages, we can see significant variation in the textural aspects of the wine, but the core sensory characteristics are remarkably consistent from year to year: red fruit, fresh earth, and spice. This 2011 version reveals reticent strawberry and red cherry flavor and aromas, with alluring notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, Asian 5-spice, sandalwood, white and black pepper. It is medium bodied with moderate, polished tannins and bright, fresh acidity.
620 Cases Produced
This 2012 version of our "flagship" estate bottled Pinot noir includes grapes from all 8 blocks of our Belle Pente vineyard, representing 6 different clonal selections (mostly Pommard and Dijon 115, but with sprinklings of 114, 113, 777, and Wadensvil) from vines planted in 1998 and 1999. Yields were a bit more generous here than at Murto, but still well below our normal target levels. Quality was exceptional across the board with many of the lots that ultimately went into this wine vying for inclusion in our Estate Reserve.
As Murto is an archetypical Dundee Hills Pinot, this Belle Pente vineyard offering is textbook Yamhill-Carlton. Although the alcohol is virtually the same (13.8%), the pH is higher (3.64 vs 3.46) and the TA lower (5.8 grams per liter vs 6.4). This tends to accentuate the "bass" notes in the wine (vs the "treble" in the Murto). Whereas the Murto is brighter and fresher, this is deeper and darker, tighter and more restrained.
Fruit flavors and aromas lean toward the dark end of the spectrum, with ripe blackberry and wild black cherry notes, complimented by complex overtones of coffee, fresh herbs, and flowers. The tannins are smooth, silky, and sappy with a seductive savoriness leading into a long, lingering finish. This is a contemplative wine that unwinds in the glass and reveals it's charms slowly. It is a pleasure to drink today and will only get better with a few years in the cellar.
774 Cases Produced
Our Estate Reserve Pinot Noir is a celebration of the apex of our winegrowing efforts, truly the "best of the best". It is the result of a rigorous selection process of individual barrels from the best sections of our Yamhill-Carlton estate vineyard. In 2011, only 9 barrels made it into this cuvee, representing less than 12% of our estate Pinot Noir production for that year.
As is generally the case, a little more than half of the blend comes from a steep south-west facing block just above the winery. This part of the vineyard is planted to the Wadensvil selection in very shallow soil. Since the vines have less water available, the individual grapes tend to be very small, yielding wines with concentrated flavors and aromas.
One third of the blend comes from the oldest vines on the property, our original block planted in 1994. By virtue of vine age and well established root systems, the wines from this section always display the broadest range of flavors and aromas. Planted primarily with the Dijon 115 and 777 selections, this block always produces the most complex wine in the cellar.
The balance of the blend hails from a higher elevation, well exposed section planted to the Oregon "workhorse" Pommard selection, which was the basis for most of the legendary Willamette Valley wines from the 70s and 80s.
This 2011 version is the product of the latest harvest ever at Belle Pente. The grapes for this wine were picked on October 27th and 28th, almost a full month later than in an "normal" year. Our warm site proved to be a real advantage in this long, cool season, with the grapes achieving a good level of ripeness at relatively low sugar levels, resulting in a well-balanced, structured wine at just under 13% alcohol.
Highly rated by both Steve Tanzer's International Wine Cellar and Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, this is a wine that can be enjoyed today (decanting recommended) and cellared for at least 10 year.
203 Cases + 120 Magnums Produced
This wine echoes the freshness and vitality of the Murto but with somewhat riper characteristics. Our Yamhill-Carlton wines always lean more towards the dark fruit end of the spectrum, with black raspberry and blueberry notes revealed in this 2011 version. The fruit is complimented by complex overtones of coffee, fresh herbs, and flowers. The tannins are firm but smooth with a savory quality that keeps you coming back for more. Intriguing now, this wine will continue to evolve in a very positive direction for at least 10 more years.
2011 was our latest harvest ever. Bud break occurred around May 7th (3 weeks later than normal), and full bloom came between July 6th and 8th. Summer didn't start until the 15th of July, and was pretty much over by mid-August. Fortunately, the early fall was relatively warm and dry, with significant precipitation holding off until early November. Our Pinot Noir harvest at the estate vineyard commenced on October 17th, and concluded on the 28th.
Fruit set in the vineyard was quite heavy, much more than we could possibly ripen in a cool year. We made an unprecedented 4 passes of crop thinning during the season! After an initial round to get close to our target levels, we made additional "hi-grading" passes to improve the consistency and quality of the grapes prior to harvest. And even with that we discarded another 10% on the sorting line! In the end, we averaged 2.8 tons per acre ... prior to thinning, we might have had 5!
This "flagship" Pinot from our Belle Pente Estate vineyard included grapes from all 8 blocks representing 6 different clonal selections (mostly Pommard and Dijon 115, but with sprinklings of 114, 113, 777, and Wadensvil). Vine age ranges from 11 to 18 years. As always, over 2/3 of the grapes come from the east blocks of the vineyard, which get morning sun, but are shielded from the intense afternoon heat that we get in the west-facing blocks.
675 Cases Produced
Our initial estate vineyard planting in 1994 included a few rows of Gamay Noir, the traditional red grape of France's Beaujolais region. But for many years the wine seemed to bear little resemblance to fine cru Beaujolais, so it was generally blended into our Cuvee Contraire bottling. It was not until 2009 that the vines produced something that in our judgement was worthy of bottling separately, and we've made a tiny amount of varietal Gamay Noir most years since then. This 2014 version is one of the best, and this is the first time that the wine has been available beyond "cash and carry" at the winery. Very limited, so if you're a fan of this "poor cousin" of Pinot Noir, snag a few bottles to enjoy over the next year or two.
50 cases produced
As many of you know, we are enamored with the wines of Alsace. So we were thrilled when our friend Andy Fortgang (of Le Pigeon and Little Bird Bistro in Portland) approached us a few years ago to create a traditional Edelzwicker blend for one of the restaurants. Edelzwicker literally means "noble blend", so is made from some combination of the "noble" varieties of Alsace: Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, and Muscat.
Although many wines labeled as Edelzwicker today tend to be sweet and innocuous, Andy was after a classic dry style to match with the house-made charcuterie at Little Bird. So we sat down with the individual varietals, and concocted the Belle Ouiseau "formula": roughly equal parts Riesling and Pinot Gris with a splash of Muscat. Initially served exclusively at the restaurant from kegs, we did a small experimental bottling in 2010, and more extensive ones starting in 2011.
The 2014 Belle Oiseau (bell woz-oh, which means "Pretty Bird") includes 45% Riesling from old vines at Hyland Vineyard in McMinnville, 40% Pinot Gris from Rivenwood Vineyard in Yamhill-Carlton (adjacent to our estate vineyard), and 15% Muscat from Stag Hollow Vineyard (our Yamhill-Carlton neighbors). The Riesling brings freshness and vibrancy, with the Pinot Gris contributing weight and body, and the Muscat adding an aromatic lift. It is a terrific Oregon original with a noble Alsatian pedigree. Perfect as an aperitif, with raw oysters, moderately spicy Asian-influenced dishes, and of course charcuterie!
110 cases produced
As with all of our Rieslings since 2007, the grapes for this wine are exclusively from Yamhill Vineyards, less than one mile from the winery on the "back side" of our hill here in the heart of the Yamhill-Carlton appellation. The vineyard was planted in 1984 on soils and at an elevation very similar to our Belle Pente estate vineyard, and has been a source of Riesling for us since 1998.
With the cool summer and beautiful, lingering fall of 2010, we waited to harvest the grapes until early November. Netting around the vines protected the fruit from the swarms of birds that attacked the vineyards during October, and allowed us to wait until the fruit was fully mature.
Since roughly 25% of the clusters were showing signs of botrytis, we sorted those out from the unaffected fruit and processed them separately. The "regular" fruit was destemmed and pressed immediately. The botrytized fruit was crushed and left to macerate on the skins for 5 days prior to pressing. The two lots were kept seperate through vinification, and blended together prior to bottling. The botrytized / skin contact portion made up about 1/3 of the final blend.
Oregon Riesling often reminds me of a hypothetical blend of Alsace, Austria, and Australia. This 2010 version, with it's modest 11.8 alcohol level, might send you to one of the more southern German regions like the Rheinhessen or Nahe. The botrytis contributes elevated spiced apple and pear aromas, along with wet stones in a spring-fed creek. The palate is rich, ripe, and focused with great freshness and a crisp, clean finish.
Enjoy this captivating Oregon Riesling now and over the next decade as an aperitif or with shellfish, raw or in cream sauces.
152 cases produced