Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Five Nights of Oregon Pinot Noir - Part II

Our second wine more than made up for the disappointment of the first night. We drank a wine by Belle Pente, a producer whose wines I've tasted on only a few occasions, but I have been really impressed each time. Most recently back in March at a wine bar in Portland.

Brian and Jill O'Donnell, owners of Belle Pente, practice biodynamic and organic farming in their estate vineyard, and they buy grapes from Murto Vineyard that are also grown according to those standards. Their reds are fermented using only natural yeasts.

Belle Pente bottles a range of whites, including a Pinot Gris, a Riesling, a Gewurztraminer, and of course a Chardonnay. There are "entry level" Pinots are called Carlton District and Dundee Hills, wines typically made from younger wines from an assortment of vineyards. Single Vineyards wines include Murto, their own Belle Pente Vineyard, and a then the Estate Reserve, a selection of the best barrels from the best blocks of the Belle Pente Vineyard. Prices really are quite reasonable. Entry level wines cost less than $30, and Murto and the Estate Reserve cost in the mid $30s from the winery, about $40 at a store. If you can find them, that is. This is very small production and the wines sell out basically immediately.

We've had Belle Pente wines a couple of times now, mostly red, and a white or two thrown in for good measure. Our experience with this bottle cemented for me that this is absolutely one of my favorite Oregon producers. We enjoyed this wine, the 2004 Belle Pente Pinot Noir Estate Reserve with pan roasted lamb shoulder chops, purple top turnip purée, and green salad with this yummy tarragon white wine vinegar dressing I've been working on.

The wine was exceptional, just fantastic. So hauntingly delicious and complex. I think that there is a definite sense of place in this wine, as that Oregon blue fruit and piney earth is easily recognizable on the palate. But where some Oregon Pinots can be heavy, this one is light and graceful, like a tai chi master. This is fresh tasting, elegant, balanced, and compelling wine, worth sitting around and talking about. BrooklynLady said "this smells old world and tastes new world," and I think I know what she meant, as I might easily mistake it for Burgundy on the nose, but not on the palate. Here are my notes on the wine:

2004 Belle Pente Pinot Noir Estate Reserve ($38 at Great Wine Buys in Portland).
Gorgeous rose petal color and absolutely translucent. This might give the impression of lightness, and the wine is elegant and light-medium bodied, but don't be fooled - this is very powerful stuff. The nose is perfumed and heady, with clean and pure sour cherry and dried rose petal aromas, and prominent clove scents amidst the other spicy dried orange peel hints. Such a complex and beautiful nose. After two hours, when the wine was nearly gone, there was some alcohol (13.8%) heat on the nose which was odd - why now, after so long open? The palate is juicy and fresh, and piercing with acidity at the same time. There are cool dark lush layers of fruit framed by gentle tannins, and kept in check by vibrant acidity. This is honestly one of the best bottles of Oregon wine I've ever had.


Anonymous said...

Brooklyn Guy, I haven't had the Estate Reserve but the Belle Pente Murto Vineyard is also very good.

Brooklynguy said...

hi cruxsola - loved the 04 murto - there is a link to my notes from tasting it in the this post.and the prices are so much better than so many worse wines from oregon.