Oregon Wine Club – March 2009

2006 Belle Pente, Murto Vineyard Pinot Noir
Brian O’Donnell of Belle Pente is definitely one of Oregon’s foremost exponents of the Old World philosophy that great wine is made in the vineyard and merely nurtured in the winery. The winery practices organic and biodynamic viticulture, emphasizing minimal handling and manipulation of the grapes. Their own 70-acre estate, planted in 1994, is about two miles east of Carlton, with the vineyards planted on a gentle slope rising about 500 feet above sea level. All the Belle Pente wines come from their estate – except for this Murto Vineyard Pinot. For ten years, Brian has made a reserve wine from this block of high altitude, thirty-year old Pommard clone vines in the Dundee Hills. Earthy but clean, with bright red fruits and plenty of spice, this Murto Vineyard Pinot Noir is one of the most Burgundian wines produced in Oregon and one of Brian’s best wines ever. The warmth of the 2006 vintage allowed the grapes to obtain more ripeness and concentration than in cooler years. It costs only $38, is in good supply, and is drinking well now, although it will definitely age gracefully for many years. Try it with a spicy mushroom dish.

2006 Domaine Coteau, Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir Reserve
As you can tell from the name, our second wine this month is also made in a more Burgundian style, but from a low altitude, more southern vineyard. Dean Sandifer started the winery in 1994 and began to plant Pinot Noir on his estate vineyard two years later. Dean harvests his grapes as late as possible to ensure that the fruit is ripe and to intensify the color of the wine. He feels that ripe fruit contains more complex aromas, and the ripe tannins that accompany this fruit taste rounder and softer. He also uses French oak extensively to bring out the natural earthiness of the grapes. This reserve wine shows off firm, plummy fruit, with interesting layers of black raspberry and black cherry. It’s ready to drink and would be a perfect match for the complexities of Easter or Thanksgiving dinner. It is $41.50 and still in good supply.