Vineyard & Winery
Brief descriptions of all of our current release wines can be found below. Prices listed are retail at the winery.
2009 Willamette Valley Pinot Gris
In 2009, we grew around 2/3 of the grapes for this Pinot Gris bottling at our Belle Pente estate vineyard and Rivenwood vineyard, which is a 2.5 acre parcel adjacent to our property that we farm as an extension of our estate vineyard. With the warm growing season, the grapes reached a good level of ripeness by late September, so most of the grapes were harvested in a one week period between 28-Sep and 5-Oct.
However, we elected to leave the fruit on a small section of our oldest Pinot Gris vines longer, with the hope of making a late harvest style Pinot Gris. Unfortunately, we didn't get the right conditions to make a stand-alone desert wine, so the late harvest lot got blended into this wine. Although it only represents about 6% of the total blend, it adds a level of complexity that is rare in domestic Pinot Gris.
We have always favored a rich, opulent, "Alsatian" style of Pinot Gris, and the 2009 vintage provided the perfect raw material! The wine is redolent of apples and pears, with a touch of honey and cherry. It is medium bodied, with great texture and viscosity, and a crisp, clean finish. This is a classic, "old school" Oregon Pinot to be enjoyed with a wide range of dishes now and over the next several years.
752 cases produced $16.50/bottle
2009 Willamette Valley Muscat
This is the fifth vintage of our Early Muscat/Muscat Ottonel blend from Mark Huff and Jill Zarnowitz's Stag Hollow Vineyard. Fans of unique, dry,complex aromatic white wines should not miss the opportunity to try this. The exotic wild floral aromatics that are Muscat's "calling card" dominate the nose, and create the expectation among many tasters of sweetness on the palate. But the wine "under-delivers" in the residual sugar department - it is totally dry! Enjoy as an aperitif, with raw oysters, or with the classic Alsatian pairing - white asparagus! A rare treat!
24 cases produced $18/bottle
2007 Willamette Valley Riesling
The grapes for this wine are exclusively from Yamhill Vineyard, less than one mile from the winery on the "back side" of our hill. Searingly acidic in it's youth, this wine has evolved into a classic rendition of Oregon dry Riesling. Citrus notes dominate, balanced by a creamy texture and mineral notes. Enjoy today with Northwest oysters, Dungeness crab, or shellfish in rich cream sauces.
164 cases produced $18/bottle
2006 Willamette Valley Gewurztraminer
This is our third (and final) vintage from Hyland vineyard in McMinnville (we are actively seeking a new source). The wine features a somewhat restrained floral, spicy, nose and a broad, rich palate. It strikes a wonderful balance between the hedonistic side of Gewürztraminer and it's more restrained, food friendly personality. This wine will make a wonderful accompaniment to traditional holiday meals.
145 cases produced $18/bottle
2009 Belle Pente Vineyard Chardonnay
Our 100% Estate Grown Chardonnay comes from a little 2 acre parcel planted in 1999 on a steep southwest facing slope with rows running up & down the hill from north-east to south-west. These vines have produced very compelling wines for the past several years, and this 2009 version is no exception. If you've had our Chardonnay in the past, you know what we're talking about. If not, it's time to give it a try!
In keeping with our normal practice, we divided the block into an "early" and a "late" picking, harvesting half of the grapes on September 28th and the balance on October 6th. The earlier harvest date allows us to maintain good natural acidity in the wines, and the second provides more developed and nuanced flavors and aromas. Blending the two lots together allows us to achieve complex, balanced wines every year. Even with the heat of the 2009 vintage, we were able to keep alcohol levels below 14%. And even with a complete malolactic fermentation, the wine is bright, fresh, and lively.
Following harvest, the grapes were crushed and pressed, and the juice settled for 48 hours, with no sulfites added. The juice was then barrel fermented, half in Oregon oak and half in French oak, with only about 15% new barrels in the mix. Elevage was over 12 months with frequent lees stirring, and the wine was assembled, filtered, and bottled in early October of 2010. With a little bottle age, it is ready to enjoy today!
372 cases produced $30/bottle
2010 Murto Vineyard Pinot Noir
Two thousand ten will always be remembered as the summer that never happened. Although the growing season started 2 weeks earlier than normal, it finished 3 weeks later than normal! Flowering at the high elevation Murto vineyard occurred under cool conditions around July 4th, and the resulting fruit set was quite meager. In normal vintages, we expect about 14 tons of grapes from our 6 acres at Murto. In 2010, we only got a little over 7, all of which were harvested on the 20th of October.
As is often the case, low quantity begets high quality! The extremely long growing season culminated in a dry, temperate October, which allowed the grapes to achieve terrific physiological maturity at relatively low sugar levels. Finished alcohol checked in at 13%, with 5.9 grams/liter of acidity: almost perfect stats for cool climate Pinot Noir!
Mike and Robin Murto's Dundee Hills vineyard has been a source of terrific single vineyard Pinot Noir wines since our inaugural vintage in 1996. Although the textural aspects of the wine will vary from vintage to vintage, the core characteristics are remarkably consistent from year to year: red fruit, fresh earth, and spice. This 2010 version reveals bright, ripe 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 tannins balanced by crisp acidity.
This classy young Pinot can certainly be enjoyed now, but will clearly reward 2-4 years (or more) of cellaring.
407 cases produced $38/bottle
2010 Belle Pente Vineyard Pinot Noir
This "flagship" Pinot from our Belle Pente Estate vineyard gets better and better every year as the vines reach maturity. In this vintage, the grapes came from 7 of our 8 blocks of Pinot, all of which were over 12 years old. About half the blend was a melange of the newer Dijon selections (113, 114, 115, and 777), with one third Pommard, and the balance Wadensvil. This mix of the "old" and "new" clones has proven to be a harmonious combination producing complex, complete wines in warm and cool vintages alike. The total is always more than the sum of the parts.
Harvest proceeded under clear, cool conditions between October 8th and 22nd, and fermentations were conducted using indigenous yeast isolated from 2 parts of the vineyard. The combination of these two techniques (staggering harvest over 2 weeks, and using true "native" yeast) accentuates the harmony and complexity provided by our clonal diversity. It also helps capture the typicity of the Yamhill-Carlton appellation and the unique characteristics of the growing season.
With this wine, we always strive to strike a balance between accessibility and ageability. Since much of it is consumed in restaurants at a tender young age, it is important that the wine show well upon release. But we also want to have sufficient structure for at least several years of cellaring. This 2010 version is a perfect embodiment of our "best of both worlds" goal. The wine is fresh, focused, and persistent with ripe plum and blueberry flavors and aromas. Accents of fresh herbs and flowers frame the fruit. The wine is medium bodied with smooth, silky, seductive tannins and a crisp, clean finish.
As with the Murto bottling, this is a classy young Pinot that can perform on the table tonight, but will be even more interesting with several years of cellaring.
785 cases produced $35/bottle
2009 Estate Reserve Pinot Noir
Since it's first release in 1997, our Estate Reserve Pinot Noir has represented the "best of the best" from our vineyard, the epitome of our winegrowing efforts each year. It is typically released three years or so after harvest, earning it's "reserve" designation by gaining at least one year of bottle age prior to being offered for sale. And it is a wine intended for additional cellaring, with the goal of reaching peak maturity 10 years from the vintage date.
The core of the Estate Reserve is always a barrel selection from our "best" blocks. These include the original 1994 planting (always the most complex wine in the cellar), and the Wadensvil block planted in 1998 on a steep south-west hillside (generally producing the most concentrated wines). In this 2009 edition, over 80% of the grapes hailed from these two blocks, supplemented by a small dose of Pommard clone Pinot from one of our East blocks.
As one might expect from the warm 2009 vintage, this is a big wine! The following review by Josh Raynolds of Steve Tanzer's International Wine Cellar sums it up nicely:
"Vivid ruby-red. An intensely perfumed bouquet evokes candied dark berries, Asian spices and potpourri, with a bright note of blood orange gaining strength with air. Juicy, expansive and seamless, offering open-knit black raspberry and cherry flavors and a suggestion of candied rose. Shows excellent clarity and power on the finish, leaving notes of singed orange and cherry-cola behind. This exotic pinot is complex enough to drink now with little guilt, but I suspect that it will be even better with another three to five years of bottle age. 93pts"
This is a terrific example of a big, bold, "take no prisoners" Pinot that is also light on it's feet! A big man who can dance... A Sumo wrestler "en pointe"... Enjoy!
275 cases + 120 magnums produced
Prior release wines (subject to availability):
2009 Murto Vineyard Pinot Noir
Warmer years are always kind to higher elevation sites like Murto Vineyard. The old vines, planted in 1978, are also quite resilient and able to handle weather-induced stress; they barely flinched during the heat spikes of 2009! We have made a vineyard designated wine from Mike and Robin Murto's Dundee Hills vineyard ever since our inaugural vintage in 1996. So for many of our longtime customers, Belle Pente and Murto are almost synonymous.
This 2009 version is very expressive, with dried cherry and strawberry/ raspberry jam aromas that jump out of the glass, accented with the characteristic Murto spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, Asian 5-spice, sandalwood, white and black pepper. The red fruit carries over on to the medium-bodied palate, balanced with fresh acidity and ripe tannins. Complex, spicy, & earthy, it is a terrific rendering of the vintage and a textbook 2009 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir!
Although this wine certainly has sufficient structure for at least several years in the cellar, it has a youthful exuberance that cries out "drink me now!" Resistance is futile...
588 cases produced $35/bottle
2009 Belle Pente Vineyard Pinot Noir
This marks the 8th vintage of this "flagship" Pinot from our Belle Pente Estate vineyard. It is assembled primarily from lots that originate on the east side of our vineyard. These blocks get good morning sun, but are sheltered from the more intense late afternoon heat. Planted primarily to the Pommard and 115 selections in relatively deep soil at over 1800 vines per acre, these blocks yield wines that are structured yet approachable in their youth. It is a "junior" version of our Estate Reserve intended for earlier enjoyment.
Aromatically intense, this wine smells like summer! A herb garden potpourri of lavender, thyme, rosemary, and anise weaves with scents of violets and rose petals. The fruit is reminiscent of ripe blueberries with a hint of brambly black raspberry. The texture is smooth and sappy, with silky tannins and balancing acidity. Hints of roast coffee and chocolate linger in the background.
This wine is an absolute delight today, but should also respond well to a few years in the cellar.
638 cases produced $35/bottle
2008 Estate Reserve Pinot Noir
Since it's first release in 1997, our Estate Reserve Pinot Noir has represented the "best of the best" from our vineyard, the epitome of our winegrowing efforts each year. It is released just shy of three years after harvest, to coincide with the annual International Pinot Noir Celebration, where it was once again a featured wine at this year's 25th anniversary event.
A number of factors converged to make this perhaps our most compelling Estate Reserve to date. Two thousand eight was the latest vintage on record at Belle Pente (until 2010!), and bore some resemblance to 1999. In all of these years, a picture perfect October came to the rescue of a very late season. We achieved nice maturity of a relatively low crop, and the resulting wines are nicely concentrated with moderate alcohol levels. All of our vines reached 10-15 years of age, and their root systems have now penetrated into the mother rock, extracting more complexity every year.
The core of the Estate Reserve is always a barrel selection from our best blocks, which include the original 1994 planting (always the most complex), and the Wadensvil block planted in 1998 on a steep south-west hillside (generally the most concentrated). But in 2008, many other sections put in stellar performances, so the "traditional" Estate Reserve blocks only contributed a little over half the blend. It was really exciting to see some of these other sections "step up"!
The final assemblage consisted of 18 barrels from 5 of our 8 blocks of Pinot Noir. Two thirds of the blend is from the "old school" Oregon workhorse selections of Pommard and Wadensvil (in roughly equal quantities), and the balance is comprised of Dijon 115 and 777. The finished wine is almost analytically perfect: 13.8% alcohol, 5.6 grams/liter of acidity, and a pH of 3.55. This is what one might expect to see in a Grand Cru Burgundy from a great vintage! The wine is superbly balanced, and in a good cellar, will last forever!
The following description from Steve Tanzer's International Wine Cellar describes the wine much more eloquently than I ever could:
"Bright ruby-red. Heady, spice-accented scents of red and dark fruits and flowers, along with notes of allspice, licorice, mocha and incense. Fresh, precise and deeply concentrated, with sweet raspberry and mulberry flavors picking up spicecake and candied rose qualities with air. Shows impressive tenacity and clarity on the extremely persistent finish, which is given shape by fine-grained tannins." 93 pts
450 cases produced $50/bottle
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