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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 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.

Perfect Pairings

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.

Sommelier Secret

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. 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 Villages or Cru level wines.

BEE1146016_2011 Item# 125120