Bethel Heights Estate Pinot Noir (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2016
This wine blends fruit from all the different sections of the estate vineyard. It truly encompasses the entire breadth of
expression at Bethel Heights from the youthful exuberance of the winery's youngest vines planted in 2002 to the brooding, earthy complexity of its old own-rooted vines that have been knitting themselves into the landscape for forty years.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Silky and vibrant, with spirited raspberry and violet aromas that open to effortlessly complex flavors of black cherry, black tea, cardamom and other dark spices. Drink now through 2024.
Attractive, sous-bois aromas with plenty of interest already in this complex, fresh pinot. The palate has a very strikingly fresh array of ripe red cherries and blood oranges with an attractive, grainy, long and supple finish. Drink or hold.
The pleasures of Bethel’s entry-level estate pinot are immediate, from the very first whiffs of graham cracker and red cherry. With air, those flavors take on an umami dimension, with mushroom and creosote elements, everything delivered with fine, pristine detail.
Deep, dense and dark aromatics spotlight blackberry and black cherry. It's a smooth well-integrated wine with a thick veneer of fruit, smoke and earth. The tannins are substantial, polished to a fine lustre, and carry a streak of graphite.
The 2016 Pinot Noir Estate is pale to medium ruby-purple with beautiful scents of warm blackberries and black cherries with notes of bramble berry and blueberry compote plus meaty touches of charcuterie and pink peppercorn. Medium-bodied, it has a good core of black fruits in the mouth, with a frame of grainy tannins and plenty of freshness, finishing long with blue fruit and perfumed soil notes.
Planted between 1977 and 1979, Bethel Heights was one of the first vineyards in the Eola Hills, a chain of hills in the center of Oregon's Willamette Valley. The estate winery was established in 1984 and currently produces 10,000 cases of wine annually, most of which still comes from the 50 acre estate vineyard. Bethel Heights specializes in Pinot Noir, but also produces Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc.
Running north to south, adjacent to the Willamette River, the Eola-Amity Hills AVA has shallow and well-drained soils created from ancient lava flows (called Jory), marine sediments, rocks and alluvial deposits. These soils force vine roots to dig deep, producing small grapes with great concentration.
Like in the McMinnville sub-AVA, cold Pacific air streams in via the Van Duzer Corridor and assists the maintenance of higher acidity in its grapes. This great concentration, combined with marked acidity, give the Eola-Amity Hills wines—namely Pinot noir—their distinct character. While the region covers 40,000 acres, no more than 1,400 acres are covered in vine.
One of the most finicky yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is a labor of love for many. However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. In fact, it is the only red variety permitted in Burgundy. Highly reflective of its terroir, Pinot Noir prefers calcareous soils and a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality and demands a lot of attention in the vineyard and winery. It retains even more glory as an important component of Champagne as well as on its own in France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions. This sensational grape enjoys immense international success, most notably growing in Oregon, California and New Zealand with smaller amounts in Chile, Germany (as Spätburgunder) and Italy (as Pinot Nero).
In the Glass
Pinot Noir is all about red fruit—strawberry, raspberry and cherry with some heftier styles delving into the red or purple plum and in the other direction, red or orange citrus. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and a lively acidity. With age (of which the best examples can handle an astounding amount) it can develop hauntingly alluring characteristics of fresh earth, savory spice, dried fruit and truffles.
Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of pink-fleshed fish like salmon and tuna but its mild mannered tannins give it enough structure to pair with all sorts of poultry: chicken, quail and especially duck. As the namesake wine of Boeuf Bourguignon, Pinot noir has proven it isn’t afraid of beef. California examples work splendidly well with barbecue and Pinot Noir is also vegetarian-friendly—most notably with any dish that features mushrooms.
For administrative purposes, the region of Beaujolais is often included in Burgundy. But it is extremely different in terms of topography, soil and climate, and the important red grape here is ultimately Gamay, not Pinot noir. Truth be told, there is a tiny amount of Gamay sprinkled around the outlying parts of Burgundy (mainly in Maconnais) but it isn’t allowed with any great significance and certainly not in any Village or Cru level wines. So "red Burgundy" still necessarily refers to Pinot noir.