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Bethel Heights Estate Pinot Noir 2015

Pinot Noir from Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon
  • WS91
13.5% ABV
  • JS93
  • W&S92
  • WS92
  • RP92
  • WE91
  • WS90
  • WS92
  • RP90
  • W&S90
  • TP90
  • WS92
  • W&S92
  • RP91
  • RP88
  • WS89
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13.5% ABV

Winemaker Notes

This wine blends fruit from all the different sections of our estate vineyard. It truly encompasses the entire breadth of expression at Bethel Heights from the youthful exuberance of our youngest vines planted in 2002 to the brooding, earthy complexity of our old own-rooted vines that have been knitting themselves into our landscape for forty years.

Aromas of black cherry and black pepper over subtle hints of cassis, sandalwood and cola. The palate is broad and brooding; the heat of 2015 brought on thicker skins and the resulting added structure is apparent in this young wine, but vibrant acidity helps keep the young wine in balance. This should age gracefully for a decade or more.

2015 was characterized by early bud- break, early bloom, plenty of sunshine and a big heat spike in early August. A hot summer like this can push potential alcohols, forcing an early harvest that precludes hang time. But September brought mercifully cool temperatures and chilly evenings. Sugar accumulation was arrested and the vineyard was allowed to develop flavor. Not overripe flavors. Not high alcohol flavors, but instead the integrated, intense, and focused flavors only afforded by generous hang time at cool temperatures.

Critical Acclaim

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WS 91
Wine Spectator
Tightly focused, with a lively core of fresh acidity and broad-shouldered tannins, keenly balanced by cherry and guava flavors, accented by hints of sandalwood and spice. Best from 2019 through 2023.
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Bethel Heights

Bethel Heights

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Bethel Heights, Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon
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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.

Eola-Amity Hills

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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 VanDuzer corridor and assists the maintenance of higher acidities 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.

Pinot Noir

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One of the most difficult yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is commonly referred to by winemakers as the “heartbreak grape.” However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. More reflective than most varieties of the land on which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality, and demands care in the vineyard and lots of attention in the winery. It is an important component of Champagne and the only variety permitted in red Burgundy. Pinot Noir enjoys immense popularity internationally, most notably in Oregon, California, and New Zealand.

In the Glass

Pinot Noir Is all about red fruit—strawberry, raspberry, and cherry. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and lively acidity. It ranges in body from very light to the heavier side of medium, typically landing somewhere in the middle—giving it extensive possibilities for food pairing. With age (of which the best examples can handle an astounding amount), it can develop hauntingly beautiful characteristics of fresh earth, autumn leaves, and truffles.

Perfect Pairings

Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of pink-fleshed fish like salmon, ocean trout, and tuna. Its mild mannered tannins don’t fight with spicy food, and give it enough structure to pair with all sorts of poultry—chicken, quail, and especially duck. As the namesake wine of Boeuf Bourguignon, it can even match with heavier fare. Pinot Noir is also very vegetarian-friendly—most notably with any dish that features mushrooms.

Sommelier Secret

Pinot Noir is dangerously drinkable, highly addictive, and has a bad habit of emptying the wallet. Look for affordable but still delicious examples from Germany (as Spätburgunder), Italy (as Pinot Nero), Chile, New Zealand, and France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions.

RVLRIBH15PNE_2015 Item# 375551