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Bethel Heights Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2011

Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley, Oregon
  • RP90
12% ABV
  • RP88
  • WS90
  • RP90
  • WS87
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12% ABV

Winemaker Notes

Initial aromas of pine resin and mocha give way to new strawberries and raspberries. The wine is elegant yet lively on the palate with flavors of raspberries and Royal Anne cherries and a hint of fresh parsley. The acidity gives the wine energy and movement on the palate and fine grain tannins carry the wine to a smooth, almost ethereal finish.

Critical Acclaim

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RP 90
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
From a combination of Vita Springs and estate fruit, Bethel Height's basic, Willamette Valley appellation 2011 Pinot Noir projects vintage typically juicy, tart cherry and red currant that contrast yet compliment fascinatingly and deliciously a saliva-inducing undertone of marrow-rich veal stock. There is a striking and exhilarating buoyancy here borne at least in part of the mere 12.0% alcohol. A berry seed crunch lends invigoration to a mouthwateringly sustained finish, capping an excellent value that should drink beautifully through at least 2017, though quite possibly well beyond. The option on Vita Springs fell into Casteels' laps due to a lapsed contract at what would ordinarily be considered the last minute. "We argued about whether to let the fruit hang on into November - it had already been frosted twice" relates Ben Casteel. "But it looked beautiful, with tiny clusters, and the weather was pretty good," continues Mimi Casteel, Also I thought, "let's just hang-it-out there.-- Good call! -In the end,- the report, Athose berries had nice, crunchy seeds."
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Bethel Heights

Bethel Heights

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Bethel Heights, 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.

Willamette Valley

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One of Pinot Noir’s most successful New World outposts, the Willamette Valley is the largest and most important AVA in Oregon. With a Mediterranean climate moderated by a Pacific Ocean influence, it is perfect for cool-climate viticulture—warm and dry summers allow for steady, even ripening, and frost is rarely a risk during spring and winter.

Mountain ranges bordering three sides of the valley, particularly the Chehalem Mountains, provide the option for higher-elevation, cooler vineyard sites. The three prominent soil types here create significant differences in wine styles between vineyards and sub-AVAs. The iron-rich, basalt-based Jory volcanic soils found commonly in the Dundee Hills are rich in clay and hold water well; the chalky, sedimentary soils of Ribbon Ridge, Yamhill-Carlton and McMinnville encourage complex root systems as vines struggle to search for water and minerals. Silty, loess soils are found in the Chehalem Mountains.

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.

BEE1146016_2011 Item# 125120