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Belle Pente Murto Vineyard Pinot noir 2012
Belle Pente’s Murto bottling has become one of our go-to Oregon Pinots, so we were super stoked to learn that the 2012 was ready for release. It exceeded out expectations, which is hard to do. Murto’s signature is its savory spiciness which, try as I might, I can’t put into words. I find it irresistibly good — hopefully you will too.
Brian O’Donnell, winemaker: “Every once in a while in this over-hyped, superlative-laced world of wine (and other things), there appear individual bottles that actually live up to (or even surpass) our inflated expectations. I am happy to report that the 2012 editions of our single vineyard Pinots from Murto and Belle Pente Vineyards are two of them.
Two thousand twelve has been heralded as "the greatest vintage ever for Oregon Pinot Noir,” "the vintage of a lifetime,”, etc, etc... I am generally allergic to these grandiose proclamations, preferring to see how the wines stand the test of time. But these young wines are so drop dead delicious today that on one level I don't even care how they will age (although I'm beginning to suspect that they will do exceedingly well with a dozen years in the cellar!).
The growing season got off to a bit of a late start, and sketchy weather during flowering kept the crop small. The summer was glorious with almost 3 months of warm days and cool coastal nights with little if any measurable precipitation. Two brief heat-spikes during the season caused some sunburn, which reduced the crop by another 5-10%. Our Pinot noir harvest commenced under ideal conditions on October 1st and was finished by the 11th. When everything was in barrel right after Halloween, we had just shy of 100 barrels of Pinot, only 2/3 of a normal years production.
The story here is very simple: extraordinary quality but excruciatingly low yields. We were just slightly over half of our normal target crop level for this vineyard. The grapes were harvested over 2 days on October 5th and 11th; the fruit was perfectly ripe, clean, and very tasty! From the very beginning, the young wines were quite compelling.
Mike and Robin Murto's Dundee Hills vineyard is a high elevation site that really shines in warmer vintages. Our oldest blocks there were planted in 1978, and produce interesting wine every year. But the combination of the very low yields and the terrific growing season created something very special in 2012. The wine has ripe red fruit flavors and aromas backed up by fresh acidity and silky tannins. For those of you who are interested in the "numbers", the wine has 13.9% alcohol, a pH of 3.46, and TA of 6.4 grams per liter. Berlitz translation: even though it is fruit forward, it should last forever!
As an aside, this summer we sat down with a small group of people "in the business" and tasted through 18 vintages of our Murto Pinot, from a pre-commercial wine made in 1994 through this 2012 edition. The "sweet spot" for the group was the 1999 through 2003 vintages, 10 to 15 years old. I'm sure that this 2012 will be stellar in 2025, but the good news is that you absolutely do not have to wait that long to enjoy it.
In classic Dundee Hills fashion, this wine displays ripe red fruit flavors and aromas reminiscent of cherry compote and raspberry eau d'vie, overlaid with the signature Murto baking spice, Asian spice, and pepper (white, black, and Sichuan!) aromatics. The palate is dense and concentrated, but also vibrant and fresh. It screams for traditional Pinot parings like roast duck or stuffed quail. Enjoy this delightful young Pinot today and over the next 20-30 years! 441 cases produced.”
2010 vintage tasting notes:
Tanzer 93 Points Bright ruby-red. Heady, exotically perfumed aromas of cherry-cola, raspberry liqueur, star anise and freshly turned earth, along with notes of incense and smoky herbs. Stains the palate with intense red fruit flavors that gain weight and sweetness with air. Manages to be powerful as well as energetic, finishing with outstanding focus and gently tannic persistence. - Josh Raynolds
This 2010 version reveals bright, ripe red cherry flavor and aromas, with alluring notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, Asian 5-spice, sandalwood, white and black pepper. It is medium bodied with moderate tannins balanced by crisp acidity. This classy young Pinot can certainly be enjoyed now, but will clearly reward 2-4 years (or more) of cellaring. - the winery
We need more instant gratification Pinots, like Belle Pente's 2009 single vineyard Pinots. Sure, it's great to age Oregon Pinots in vintages like 2008 and 2010, but sometimes you just want to crack open a beautiful bottle of Pinot and know it's ready.
2009 Tanzer - 92 points - Bright red. Sexy, highly perfumed aromas of red berry liqueur, potpourri and cola, with a smoky topnote. Broad, open-knit raspberry and cherry flavors show very good depth and energy, with tangy acidity adding spine. Richer and darker in profile on the long spice- and floral-accented finish. This wine benefits quite a bit from aeration. - J.R.
The sweet and spicy aromas of the 2009 Murto Pinot noir are immediately appealing. Dark cherries, red berry preserves, subtle crushed flowers and a melange of Asian five-spice, nutmeg, incense and white pepper waft from the glass. Drink me! You get powerful and pretty flavors of ripe dark cherries and raspberries, delving deeper to a fine ribbon of black fruit, crescendoing to a pitch-perfect finish of fruit, spice, and minerality. Murto's 30+ year-old vines delivered a fruit-forward and complex 2009 Pinot. I highly recommend it! - Marcus
Although this wine certainly has sufficient structure for at least several years in the cellar, it has a youthful exuberance that cries out "drink me now." Resistance is futile... - Brian
The Murto Vineyard is seventeen acres planted in 1978 to Pinot noir - Pommard clone and Wadenswil clone. The vines are rooted in the North Willamette’s most common vineyard soil, the classic Oregon Jory type.
Below, Murto Vineyard owners Robin & Mike Murto
Complex spicy, earthy, brambly aromas lead to a fresh, focused palate dripping with medium-ripe red fruit flavors over silky, polished tannins. An absolutely classic Dundee Hills Pinot Noir!
2008 Tanzer - 92 points - Bright ruby-red. Intense red berry and Asian spice aromas, with a sexy potpourri quality and a hint of woodsmoke. Deeply pitched red and dark berry flavors show impressive energy and lift, picking up notes of star anise and cinnamon on the back half. Packs a punch but comes off as lithe, with very good finishing clarity and spicy persistence. Drinkable now but balanced to age." - Josh Raynolds
Although this wine has a youthful exuberance that makes it pretty attractive now, it should become even more interesting with a few years in the cellar. - the winery
Don't underestimate the subtleties of the best 2007 Pinots. The Murto might not blast your buds the moment it's opened - it's delicately complex and understated, a wine that lingers in memory, with a character both satisfying and a bit mysterious.
After swirling the glass to open the wine, classic Pinot aromas of rose petal, blackberry and raspberry, plus a whisper of red cherry and currant filled the bowl. Tasting, I was immediately struck by the texture - silky and responsive, playing well with flavors of blackberry, bramble, fresh earth, and subtle spices. Still a bit tight, it opens slowly in the glass and the fresh, lively fruit expands with increasing appeal as tannins recede. There's enough structure here for cellaring 5-8 years. - Avalon
From the winery - For many of our longtime customers, Belle Pente and Murto are almost synonymous. We've bottled wine from Mike and Robin Murto's terrific Dundee Hills vineyard since our first vintage in 1996, and it's been a mainstay of our portfolio ever since.
Like the mailman, Murto always delivers, and it did not shy from the task in 2007. Complex spicy, earthy, brambly aromas lead to a fresh, focused palate dripping with medium-ripe red fruit flavors over silky, polished tannins. An absolutely classic Dundee Hills Pinot Noir!
Although this wine has a youthful exuberance that makes it pretty attractive now, it should become even more interesting with a few years in the cellar.
After the appropriate aeration very pretty red and blue berry fruit, spice and hints of plum emerge to reveal delicious, round and nicely dense medium-bodied flavors that possess a sappy texture and excellent depth and length. The overall impression is one of mildly higher ripeness compared to the Belle Pente Vineyard if a touch less elegance. A qualitative choice. - Burghound 91 points
Murto Vineyard Pinot has seduced wine lovers across the country with it's clean earthiness, bright red fruit, and intriguing, unique spiciness. It is often described by others as "sublimely Burgundian".
A standout of the vintage, drinking beautifully now, but with the balance and finesse of a wine you'll want to cellar and bring out for celebrations for ten years.
From the winery: Warmer vintages are especially kind to higher elevation sites like Murto, allowing the grapes to attain more ripeness and concentration than in cooler years. This was indeed the case in 2006, with perhaps the most intensely flavored fruit we've ever harvested from this site. Although relatively high in alcohol, the wine maintains it's balance and elegance.
True to the vintage, this wine can be enjoyed now, and should be (in moderation, of course)! But please, do yourself a favor, and buy enough to squirrel some away to enjoy four or five years from now. The vineyard has a great track record for aging gracefully, and mature Murto Pinots are real treats!
2006 Tanzer - 92 points - Dark red. Sexy aromas of black raspberry, candied cherry, black cardamom and mace. Open-knit red and dark berry flavors are impressively seamless, with slow-building floral and mineral notes adding complexity. Becomes spicier and sweeter on the finish, which is strikingly precise and very long. This wine's balance suggests that it will reward at least a few more years of patience.
This is the tenth year that we've made wine from the old Pommard block at Murto vineyard, which was planted in 1978. Since it's first release, our Murto vineyard Pinot has seduced wine lovers across the country with it's clean earthiness, bright red fruit, and intriguing, unique spiciness.
528 cases produced.
2004 Wine Spectator - 91 points - Lovely, delicate stuff, with pretty strawberry and spice and a hint of passion fruit as the flavors linger against refined tannins on the lithe frame. The finish lingers beautifully. Drink now through 2012. 525 cases made. - H.S.
The winery says:
High-toned spicy, earthy, red fruit aromas explode from the glass and expand into round, sweet fruit on the palate. Elegant and focused, this wine promises even more depth and richness with a few years in the cellar.