For almost 30 years, Brian and Jill O’Donnell of Belle Pente have quietly and humbly made some of the top Pinot Noirs in the Willamette Valley. I'm not the only one who thinks this; every vintage, Vinous Media has Belle Pente's Pinots as some of their highest rated.
I love the "house style" at this estate based in the Yamhiill-Carlton district. The wines are deeply fruited, sumptuous, and complex. Pleasure-bent, joy-inducing, and contemplative are all terms that come to mind. When I was offered a back vintages from the winery's "library" and with the smoke-tainted 2020 vintage looming, I did not hesitate to grab as much as I could.
Up first is the 2017 'Murto Vineyard' Pinot Noir, and the O'Donnells are just one of a few producers that Mike and Robin Burto sell fruit to. This site sits at the top of the Dundee Hills, and it was planted back in 1978. The older vines are certainly on display here, and there is a ton of nuance and complexity present in the finished wine. 546 cases were produced.
1. 2017 Belle Pente Pinot Noir 'Murto Vineyard'
94 points Vinous Media
"Brilliant crimson. Spice-accented raspberry and cherry aromas are complemented by hints of wood smoke, incense and baking spices. Supple and sharply focused on the palate, offering sweet red fruit, spice cake and floral pastille flavors that tighten up as the wine gains air. Fine-grained tannins frame the impressively long, spice-laced finish, which shows fine definition." - Vinous Media
Also outstanding and one of the best Willamette Valley Pinot Noir values is the 2018 Belle Pente Pinot Noir 'Yamhill-Carlton.' This is composed of grapes from all 8 blocks of Belle Pente's own estate vineyard, and the grapes for this wine are picked a bit earlier. The reason for that is to produce a more medium-bodied and fresher Pinot, but trust me, that signature style is still alive and well in this wine.
2. 2018 Belle Pente Pinot Noir 'Yamhill-Carlton'
93 points Vinous Media
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"Deep, vivid red. Expressive aromas of black raspberry, cola, potpourri and baking spices. Sappy and seamless in texture, offering energetic red berry and cherry preserve, allspice and candied rose flavors that show fine definition and back-end cut. Finishes long and silky, with harmonious tannins folding smoothly into the lingering fruit." - Vinous Media
There's not much more to say folks. If you love Oregon Pinot Noir, you will want to respond quickly to this offer. These will sell out fast. Cheers to happy drinking in the AVL!
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