I took the opportunity recently to taste new releases from two of
Belle Pente is located just outside
I’ve tasted many Belle Pente wines over the years. As good as the reds have always been, the whites impressed me first, particularly the Riesling made typically in an Alsatian style – drier and fuller bodied than you tend to find in
On this day, Brian was pouring two whites and three reds. While the reds are usually fermented with “wild” yeasts, Brian says that
The ’03 Pinot Noir Murto vineyard, from 30-year old vines, smelled a bit oaky at first, but shows more restraint that might be expected from this torrid year. Black cherries, spicy earth and oak, young wine that should settle down some with age. The ’03 Pinot Noir Estate showed lots of Christmas spice, with gingerbread and mulling spices mixed in with good fruit and clean earth flavors. Another nice wine and not too large scaled. Clearly a step up was the ’02 Pinot Noir Estate Reserve, a long, very refined and elegant wine with great depth and intensity, beautifully integrated flavors, good structure, the is perhaps the most impressive wine I’ve had from Belle Pente. Highly recommended and among the best ‘02s I’ve tried.
Next to Brian was the impresario of
John was pouring only one white, the top shelf ’03 Chardonnay Abbey Ridge. He says matter of factly that you need to think about white
On to the reds, first was the ’03 Pinot Noir Gherts vineyard from the Dundee Hills, the source of all these Cameron wines. Located below Domain Drouhin on the southwestern side of the appellation, the Gherts vineyard bottling seems promising. I enjoyed the ’02 for its freshness and drink younger personality, but this ’03 seemed a bit muddled and unfocused. Either it’s in a bad place or perhaps it’s just a victim of the hot year.
Next was the ’03 Pinot Noir Abbey Ridge, which I’ve tried twice now and find delicious. Ripe, fairly rich wine but still elegant as I like this grape to be, with good structure. Abbey Ridge may have produced the best wine of the ’03 vintage. Finally, the ’03 Pinot Noir Clos Electrique, from Cameron’s “estate” (which looks more like a shack, a really cool shack but this ain’t no grand estate) vineyard. Planted in the mid-to-late 1980s with wide spacing, it’s lower in the Dundee Hills than most and seems to produce a richer, black fruited wine where most of the Dundee Hills vineyards give redder, cherry flavors. As with the ’02, the ’03 is dark and brooding, young and unevolved, with fine tannin and good length. This is a wine to cellar but I expect it will show more complexity and subtlety in time.
But wait, John’s a passionate Italophile (Ital-o-phile? Ital-i-phile? Fan of