On September 8th 2008 I had the pleasure of attending a tasting of 7 of the wines of Belle Vallée Cellars of Corvallis, Oregon (in the Willamette Valley appellation) with one of its founders, Mike Magee, in the very agreeable Fine Wine & Culinary Center at Gordon’s in Waltham, MA.
Belle Vallée Cellars is a smallish winery founded in 2002 specializing in Pinot Noir which grows famously well in the Willamette Valley. Chief winemaker is Joe Wright, former winemaker at Willamette Valley Vineyards. Mr. Magee is a self-described former beer maker with a large family (7 children) whose glassmaker wife designs the beautiful and colorful labels on the wine bottles.
Mr. Magee stated that Belle Vallée Cellars sources fruit from 16 vineyards in the area with pinot noir as the primary grape; fruit is handled gently, hand-sorted, and the aim of the wine making is to not ‘get in the way’ of the fruit. All wines are blends from various combinations of fruit from the 16 vineyards. In farming, they have at various points used irrigation, but not always; they like to plant more vines and have fewer grapes per vine, which is “unlike the CA model.”
On hand to taste were as follows: 2007 Whole Cluster Pinot Noir, 2007 Willamette Pinot Noir, 2006 Reserve Willamette Pinot Noir, 2005 Grand Cuvee, 2005 Southern Oregon Red, 2003 Rogue Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 2004 Port of Pinot Noir. My notes (some pretty abbreviated) are as follows:
2007 Whole Cluster Pinot Noir – Their entry level pinot, all stainless steel, sees no oak, easy-drinker, quaffable, quite light in color and body, entire grape plant (seeds, stems, skins) used to provide structure, dusty tannins, rosé like, BBQ wine, serve chilled
2007 Willamette Pinot Noir – Produce about 8000 cases/year, most popular wine they sell, grapes from 8 vineyards, in Wine Spectator top 100 list in 2006. Nose of rubber bands cherries, and earth, lots of acidity, cinnamon, butterscotch, and vanilla on palate. *my favorite*
2006 Reserve Willamette Pinot Noir – Produce about 1000 cases/year, earthy, dark fruits, intense
2005 Grand Cuvee – Produce about 350 cases/year, extracted, a bit hot, very earthy nose of forest floor, well-made
2005 Southern Oregon Red – Disagreeable nose
2003 Rogue Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – No notes
2004 Port of Pinot Noir – One of very few ports made from pinot noir in the world. Only 6 barrels produced a year. The nose smells of cough syrup and plastic, but sweet and rich and complex on the palate. Quite a special aperitif (or digestif).
My cudos again to Gordon’s for another infomative and delicious wine class. Attendees also receive special discounts on all wines tasted, which is also awesome.