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November 19, 2009

06 Belle Pente, Pinot Noir Belle Pente Vineyard

I would have had this wine sooner, but I was looking for my good corkscrew. The one I've had since I was 21. A compass to gauge perfect center on the cork closure. Christmas lights. I had to put on my mood ring. The moment had to be just right. This wine deserves it. Maybe more than any other producer, Belle Pente captures Oregon pinot noir. Relax. Don't get up in arms at me about The Eyrie. Or Ponzi. Or any other boy up north. Let me clarify myself. I'm talking about Yamhill-Carlton. Not the oh Oregon can make Burgundy wines. Not the see I told you they can'ts. The ones that say what exactly are you talking about and who gave you permission to write about it. Let me see your yellowjacket scars. I'm talking about the kind of wine Soter makes before I even look at the bottle or remember that Soter's Mineral Springs is from the same place. Sometimes, terroir is so fucking obvious. So much so, that I couldn't care less if you knew this was from Yamhill, or even Oregon. The point is, it's completely unique, but it still reminds you of something. So what could that mean? What does it mean if that happens, but what you're reminded of is a late spring afternoon on a beach in Normandy with your dad's credit card (he still doesn't know). Or the first evening your fiancee turned the tables and made you dinner--the best fucking dinner you've ever had, yeah, sorry Mr. Kahan. That's what we're talking about when we say terroir, when we say "sense of place." It's more than soil or tradition, it's about having your bearings. Getting the fluids in your ear level. (In Yamhill's case, distinctively plush, low-acid fluids.) Absurdly smooth, rich, and spicy, when I think "Oregon," this is exactly the kind of wine I think of. That doesn't mean it's good or bad. Or that great winemakers doing something different should give half a care. But it does mean that in all the years I've been drinking Oregon pinot, a few styles have stood out to me. Styles that make me want to replace the French word "terroir" with an American word: pride. Black cherries, fennel, maduro pipe tobacco, espresso, and sweet San Daniele proscuitto fat? Yeah, those are the flavors we make. No, we didn't figure that out drinking Gevrey-Chambertin. This is our beautiful slope. Our beautiful slope.


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