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Belle Pente Willamette Valley Pinot noir 2011
Fresh-picked blackberry, tart raspberry, earth and truffle. The low-key nature of Belle Pente reflects the personalities of its proprietors, Brian and Jill O'Donnell. They eschew flashy, frilly marketing which helps make them an "insider" find. Not coincidentally, they've been an Avalon favorite for over a decade. What they lack in flash they more than make up for in substance and value, beginning with their entry level Willamette Valley Pinot noir.
Made from declassified Belle Pente Vineyard (Yamhill-Carlton AVA) and Bella Vida Vineyard (Dundee Hills AVA). Less than 900 cases were made.
Huge, spicy berry aromas made me step back from the glass and stare. Whoa. Rich texture, intense berry fruit and just-right tannins are everything I want in a ready to drink Oregon Pinot. The flavors grow, adding earthy blackberry seed, five spice and even more juicy wild blackberry on the finish.
Every year Brian makes a classic Willamette Valley Pinot at a bargain price. I'm going to try to get a case of it for myself but he had bird problems and lost a lot of grapes, so there's very little available. And the customer comes first in line. But don't wait to order. - Jean
at right, one of the loudspeakers Belle Pente usedin their vineyard to keep the birds away in 2010
Richly textured red berries sit lushly on your palate, with hints of cocoa, cream, and cherry skin on the finish. This is the followup to the 2008 wine that the New York Times named their number one choice of best Oregon Pinots.
Red fruit and a hint of rose petals fill the nose. Clean fresh raspberry and red cherry flavors are enhanced by the faintest touch of sandalwood incense. Smooth texture and tannins that grip just enough to balance the sweet fruit. - Jean
Lots of high toned red fruit mingles with orange peel, incense, and fresh cut hay on the nose. Richly textured red berries sit lushly on your palate, with hints of cocoa, cream, and cherry skin on the finish. - Marcus
When one of the best wineries makes a value Pinot, you expect something special. Brian has mad skills and shows them in every wine he makes, from bargain to top of the line.
Brian's Willamette Valley is ready to drink up this summer. Big, juicy, and round - like the vintage - but taken up a notch in elegance and complexity. Complexity is an odd word to use for an under $25 Pinot, but this wine tastes like a lot more than its price.
Belle Pente's elegant, refined Pinots attract longtime Oregon winelovers whose every visit to the Willamette Valley includes a special trip to Belle Pente. Almost exclusively sold by word of mouth, Belle Pente quietly releases this wine each year. Even in a tough market, it sells out quickly.
From the winery - This wine provides the first peek at our 2008 Pinots, and it's hard not to like what we see! The buying strategy for this vintage is quite simple: get some of the "entry level" wines to enjoy over the next 6 years, then stock up on the single vineyard wines to hide in the cellar for 10-20 years!
The 2008 vintage was the latest on record at Belle Pente, and bore some resemblance to 1999. In both 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 concentrated and complex with moderate alcohol levels.
As in 2007, this wine is from 100% "declassified" estate grown fruit. It hails primarily from vigorous sections of the North & East Blocks, which typically carry higher yields and result in lighter bodied wines. We generally harvest them early and raise the wines in older barrels.
This 2008 version shows somewhat restrained herbal & floral aromas, with deep red-blue fruit. Crushed dark red & blue fruit flavors dominate the balanced, structured palate. The finish is clean, fresh, and long.
This is a very young wine that has only been in the bottle for a few months. It shows great potential, but will really benefit from some cellaring.
2007 Vintage Tasting Notes
Belle Pente Pinot noir Willamette Valley 07 - "The 2007 Pinot Noir is unfined and unfiltered and lighter in style for a typical pinot noir with bright garnet colors radiating through the cloudiness. Strong earthy aromas dominate upfront but as the wine opens, red fruit aromas emerge with a subtle spiciness across the nose. Great flavor." - macorkdork.com
"Belle Pente Cellars pinot noir, 2007 (Willamette Valley): Brian and Jill O'Donnell purchased their land in 1992, planted in 1994 and made wine in 1996. Unlike some others who grab a lot of attention from the get-go, Belle Pente has matured over time, and the wines — which are never flashy — are noteworthy. Earthy with berries, coffee, spice and traces of tarragon and anise, it is a bargain for the quality." - SF Examiner 7-09
A strikingly good Pinot, and limited. The nose has earthy, peppery, and ripe cherry notes, and flavors are of red pie cherry, fresh red raspberries, black pepper, cinnamon, and brambly, well integrated tannins. There's bright acidity and lovely balance.
From the winery: "Our 2004 Willamette Valley blend utilizes fruit from Bella Vida (66%), Murto (11%), and Belle Pente Estate (23%) Vineyards. With the bulk of the fruit coming from vineyards in the Dundee Hills, this wine shows plenty of bright, fresh red fruit. To enable us to capture this in the bottle, we utilized a moderate oak treatment (25% new, with the balance spread equally among 1 to 5 year old barrels) and bottled a little earlier than normal (December vs February). The result is a classic lighter style Willamette Valley Pinot Noir which expresses the best characteristics of the vintage.
Around 25% of the production of this wine is allocated to restaurants and wine merchants in New York, where it caused a "feeding frenzy" when it was released there last month. This wine offers terrific "price/performance" for enjoyment now and over the next few years."