WINE SPECTATOR INSIDER – February 2023
Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills Aeolian 2021
94 points | $50 | 594 cases made | Red
A handsome red, polished and refined in structure, offering a fresh burst of raspberry, fresh violet and cinnamon spice flavors that build richness toward supple tannins. Drink now through 2032. —T.F.
Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills Justice Vineyard 2021
93 points | $75 | 336 cases made | Red
Shows finesse and detail, with youthful and multilayered cherry and raspberry flavors highlighted by spiced tea, mineral and fresh tarragon flavors that finish with refined tannins. Drink now through 2032.
Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills Casteel 2021
94 points | $75 | 415 cases made | Red
Capturing the essence of Eola-Amity, this Pinot is deeply structured yet supple and generous, with raspberry and blueberry flavors accented by wet stone, clove and other dusky spices. Finishes with broad-shouldered yet polished tannins. Drink now through 2032. —T.F.
Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills Estate 2021
93 points | $32 | 5,262 cases made | Red
Sleek and handsomely structured, with expressive raspberry and red plum flavors laced with black tea, forest floor and hints of mineral, building tension toward medium-grained tannins. Drink now through 2031. —T.F.
Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills Lewman Vineyard 2021
93 points | $75 | 305 cases made | Red
Deeply structured yet light on its feet, with cherry and blueberry flavors paired with accents of fresh earth and dusky spices. Builds tension toward fine-grained tannins. Drink now through 2031. —T.F.
VINOUS, February 2022, Josh Raynolds
2019 Pinot Noir Estate Flat Block – 95
Glistening ruby-red. Intense red and blue fruit, allspice, succulent floral and licorice qualities on the nose, along with vanilla and mineral topnotes that build in the glass. Sweet, broad and supple on entry and then tighter in the midpalate, offering bitter cherry, raspberry, mulberry and floral pastille flavors that show sharp delineation and spicy lift. The cherry note carries strongly through the impressively long finish, which features well-knit tannins and leaves a sexy lavender pastille note behind.
2019 Pinot Noir Estate Southeast Block – 95
Bright ruby. Intensely perfumed scents of fresh cherry and dark berries, incense and exotic spices, along with a hint of smoky minerality that builds in the glass. Sweet, penetrating and well-concentrated, showing excellent clarity and spicy lift to the sappy cherry-vanilla, mulberry and floral pastille flavors. Spreads out slowly with air and finishes on a subtly tannic note, with sharp focus and a lingering fruitcake quality. 40% new French oak.
2019 Pinot Noir Estate Justice Vineyard – 95
Brilliant ruby. Expressive, mineral-tinged black raspberry, cherry cola and floral scents are complemented by a spicy nuance and a hint of succulent herbs. Well-concentrated and energetic, offering densely packed red and blue fruit liqueur, vanilla, candied rose and spicecake flavors braced by a spine of smoky minerality. Finishes extremely long and precise, displaying reverberating red berry and spice notes and slowly building tannins. 30% new French oak.
2019 Pinot Noir Estate Casteel – 94
Deep, glistening red. Vibrant red and blue fruit aromas are complemented by steadily building mineral and exotic spice flourishes. Seamless and expansive on the palate, offering sweet cherry-vanilla, boysenberry and spicecake flavors that put on weight with aeration. Closes with strong, floral-driven tenacity and well-knit tannins that sneak in late. 50% new French oak.
2019 Pinot Noir Estate West Block – 94
Dark garnet. Seductive Chambord, cherry, exotic spice and rose oil scents, along with hints of sandalwood and smoky minerals. Juicy, seamless and animated on the palate, offering vibrant red fruit and floral pastille flavors that show good clarity and deepen steadily as the wine opens up. Fine-grained tannins lend shape to the long, penetrating finish, which shows strong, spice-driven tenacity. 37% new French oak.
2019 Pinot Noir Estate Aeolian – 92
Glistening ruby. Lively, spice-accented aromas of primary red and blue fruits and candied flowers. Juicy and focused on the palate, offering gently sweet blueberry and cherry flavors that take on a smoky nuance with air. Shows fine detail and spicy cut on the persistent finish, which features fine-grained tannins and a hint of mocha. 30% new French oak.
WINE ADVOCATE, December 2021, Erin Brooks
2019 Chardonnay Casteel – 98
The 2019 Chardonnay Casteel comes from vines planted in 1992. It opens with touches of flint that blossom to fragrant white peaches, honey, hay and spring blossoms. The medium-bodied palate is packed with layer after layer of savory fruits, with bursts of freshness that highlight its exceptional perfume. The 2019 Casteel has a singular satiny texture that coats the mouth and makes for extraordinary length. It’s a pleasure-packed iteration that offers youthful exuberance for those who like to drink younger Chardonnay, but it will offer a decade of evolution in the cellar as well.
2019 Chardonnay Estate – 95
The 2019 Chardonnay Estate has detailed scents of fresh quince, white flowers, roasted almonds and flinty tones, offering up more nuance over time. Medium-bodied, it has a satiny texture and layer after layer of floral fruit on the extended finish, its fresh acidity calling you in for another sip.
2019 Chardonnay Justice Vineyard – 97+
The 2019 Chardonnay Justice Vineyard is hedonistic this vintage, textural and packed with lush fruit. It has singular aromas of ginger and peaches with tones of roasted almonds and honey. Medium-bodied and satiny, it explodes with spicy fruits and finishes with tremendous length.
2019 Pinot Noir AEolian – 95
Medium ruby-purple, the 2019 Pinot Noir AEolian has alluring scents of blood orange, tea leaves and earth with wild berries and Angostura-like accents. Silky and fresh, it flows across the palate with detailed floral flavors and finishes long and layered.
2019 Pinot Noir Casteel – 98
The 2019 Pinot Noir Casteel is powerful and expressive, with structure and perfume that promise a long life in the cellar. It explodes with aromas of black and blue berries, dried flowers and licorice, plus a singular streak of saline-like character. The medium-bodied palate is silty and seamless, with extraordinary floral perfume, layering and length.
2019 Pinot Noir Estate – 94
Pale ruby-purple, the 2019 Pinot Noir Estate has pretty aromas of wild berries, dried flowers and crushed stone. The light-bodied palate is silky with pure, detailed berry flavors and an ethereal finish.
2019 Pinot Noir Flat Block – 97
From Pommard clone vines planted in 1979, the medium ruby-purple colored 2019 Pinot Noir Flat Block offers dark red fruits on the nose with accents of licorice, Angostura bitters and tea leaves. Medium-bodied, it has intense, very pure flavors, silty tannins and bright acidity, finishing with loads of layers. It’s an especially complex, seamless iteration of the Flat Block Pinot Noir.
2019 Pinot Noir Justice Vineyard – 96
The 2019 Pinot Noir Justice Vineyard comes from mostly Dijon clone vines planted in 1999. It has lovely scents of blood orange, blueberries, tea leaves and cinnamon. The palate offers finely detailed flavors and an abundance of silty tannins, finishing with fantastic length and layers.
2019 Pinot Noir Southeast Block – 96
The 2019 Pinot Noir Southeast Block, from Pommard clone vines planted in 1979, has a powerful expression this vintage. Medium ruby-purple, it’s scented of wild blackberries, cranberries, black tea leaves and licorice with notes of tangerine and Angostura bitters. Medium-bodied, it has an abundance of silty tannins, ripe, spicy fruit and a very long, layered finish.
2019 Pinot Noir West Block – 97
The 2019 Pinot Noir West Block comes from Wadenswil clone vines planted in 1977. Medium ruby-purple, it opens with flinty tones that segue to burnt orange, wild blackberries, amaro and licorice. Medium-bodied, it has intense, spicy layers with silty tannins, bright acidity and a very long finish with detailed flavors. It’s a great candidate for additional time in bottle.
JAMESSUCKLING.COM – July 2021
2019 Chardonnay Casteel – 94
Fantastic aromas of flint, dried pineapple, lime zest, smoke, chalk and lemon grass. It’s medium-to full-bodied with bright acidity and tight, textured layers. Excellent structure and tension. Drink or hold.
2019 Chardonnay Estate – 93
A blend of five parcels, this has attractively flinty lemons, pears and white peaches with hints of freshly baked biscuit and spicy oak. The palate has a very juicy, lemon-juice and lemon-pastry core with bright acidity and a smoothly layered finish. Drink now.
2019 Chardonnay Justice Vineyard – 94
Dried limes, jasmine, hay, crushed stones and subtle gunpowder notes on the nose. It’s medium-to full-bodied with concentrated, tight and flinty layers. Long. Drink or hold.
2019 Pinot noir Aeolian – 92
Aromas of cherry, plum, smoke and cedar. It’s medium-bodied with chalky tannins and vivid acidity. Plenty of dark fruit and wood spices and a supple finish with excellent length. Drink or hold.
2019 Pinot noir Casteel – 94
A perfumed nose of plum, forest wood, smoke and cedar. It’s medium-bodied with sleek tannins and lively acidity. Smoky, ripe and juicy with a fleshy texture. Long, supple finish. Drink or hold.
2019 Pinot noir Estate – 93
A complex nose of dark cherries, mulberries, mushrooms, forest wood and baking spices. Medium-to full-bodied with velvety tannins and bright acidity. Some smoky character with a fleshy texture. Layered and textured. Drink or hold.
2019 Pinot noir Flat Block – 96
Blackberries with strawberries and dried flowers on the nose. Full-bodied with a tight, firm structure and racy tannins that hold back the fruit. Needs time to soften. Very solid and racy. Still timid. Drinkable now, but better in 2023, when it will have opened.
2019 Pinot noir West Block – 93 Points
Extremely aromatic with dried strawberry, cedar and some incense. Medium body with firm tannins that are firm, polished and nicely integrated. Tight and firm at the finish. Drink after 2023, to allow it to open.
2019 Pinot noir Justice Vineyard – 94
There’s real purity and focus to this with freshly sliced strawberry and fruit tea, as well as some perfume. Medium to full body with very racy tannins that are focused. Refined and beautiful. Drink or hold.
WINE SPECTATOR, January 2021
2018 Pinot Noir Flat Block- 93 Points Shows definition and a tight focus, with handsome black cherry, orange blossom and stony mineral notes that build richness toward refined tannins. Drink now through 2028. – T.F.
2018 Pinot Noir Justice Vineyard- 93 Points Expressive raspberry and rose petal aromas lead to multilayered cherry, pomegranate and spiced tea flavors that finish with medium-grained tannins. Drink now through 2028. – T.F.
2018 Pinot Noir West Block – 93 Points Well-buffed tannins pair with richly structured cherry and raspberry flavors that draw in black tea and dusky spice flavors. Best from 2022 through 2033.T.F.
WINE ENTHUSIAST, October 2020
2017 Chardonnay Casteel – 94 points This barrel-fermented reserve has a spicy mix of aromas, with hints of mint and menthol, along with cedar plank notes from the barrels. It needs aggressive decanting if you plan to drink it soon, so that those barrel flavors are fully integrated. But when put all together with the lush mix of stone fruits and balancing acids, this is a deep, dense, splendid example of top-tier Oregon Chardonnay. PAUL GREGUTT
2017 Pinot Noir West Block – 94 points The West Block vines date back to 1977, yielding a stylish, tart, black-fruited Pinot with complementary layers of chocolate, mocha, cola and sandalwood. The long, smooth finish remains compact but should broaden out with further bottle age. The tannins, as with all of Bethel Heights Pinots, are beautifully ripened. PAUL GREGUTT
2017 Chardonnay Estate – 92 points Crisp apple fruit is threaded with light suggestions of vanilla and butterscotch. The relatively low alcohol brings white-radish highlights into play, along with some citrusy herbs such as pineapple sage. It’s definitely on the light side, but with the acids and structure to nicely match white fish or simple poultry.
VINOUS, September 2020
2016 Chardonnay Casteel – 94
Light, bright yellow. Meyer lemon, pear and smoky minerals on the deeply perfumed nose, along with hints of jasmine, vanilla and candied ginger that emerge with air. Silky in texture and well-concentrated, offering palate-staining citrus and orchard fruit flavors complemented by brioche, oyster shell and toasty lees nuances. The floral note repeats emphatically on the extremely long, supple finish, which is energized by a jolt of smoky minerality. Aged for 15 months in 55% new French oak. — Josh Raynolds
2016 Chardonnay Estate – 92
Translucent straw-gold. Aromas of pear nectar, pineapple and Meyer lemon are complemented by subtle vanilla, fennel and jasmine nuances. Juicy and seamless on the palate, offering Meyer lemon, Anjou pear and floral flavors and a touch of dusty minerality that appears on the back half. At once concentrated and lively in personality, delivering firm closing thrust, a repeating floral note and very good persistence. — Josh Raynolds
2016 Chardonnay Justice Vineyard – 93
Pale yellow-gold. Fresh honeydew, Meyer lemon, pear nectar, vanilla and toasted brioche on the deeply perfumed, oak-spiced nose. Juicy and expansive on the palate, offering densely packed yet energetic orchard and citrus fruit and sweet butter flavors and a spicy suggestion of ginger. Shows impressive energy and mineral lift on the persistent finish, which features a suave, insistent floral quality. Aged for 16 months in French oak barrels, 40% of them new. — Josh Raynolds
VINOUS, August 2020
2018 Pinot Noir Casteel – 95
Glistening ruby-red. Expansive aromas of ripe red and blue fruits, candied flowers, vanilla and baking spices; a smoky mineral flourish gains strength as the wine opens up. Coats the palate with appealing sweet boysenberry and cherry liqueur flavors that tighten up and become spicier on the back half. Shows fine clarity and floral lift on a long, velvety finish shaped by fine-grained, even tannins. 40% new oak. — Josh Raynolds
2018 Pinot Noir Aeolian – 93
Glistening ruby-red. Expansive aromas of ripe red and blue fruits, candied flowers, vanilla and baking spices; a smoky mineral flourish gains strength as the wine opens up. Coats the palate with appealing sweet boysenberry and cherry liqueur flavors that tighten up and become spicier on the back half. Shows fine clarity and floral lift on a long, velvety finish shaped by fine-grained, even tannins. 40% new oak — Josh Raynolds
THE WINE ADVOCATE, APRIL 2020 – Erin Brooks
2017 Chardonnay The High Wire – 96+
The 2017 Chardonnay The High Wire is pure class! It takes its time to unwind, slowly revealing aromas of white peaches, red apples and pears, wafts of hay and button mushroom with nuances of elderflower and oyster shell. The medium-bodied palate is silky and pure, with fresh fruits wrapped in savory, honeyed nuances. It has tangy acidity and a gentle phenolic grip, finishing long and nuanced. This will require another 2-3 years in bottle to really show its stuff.
2017 Chardonnay Casteel – 95
The 2017 Chardonnay Casteel is scented of yellow peaches, quince paste, jasmine, spring honey and hazelnuts with hints of lime peel and crushed stone. Medium-bodied and silky, the palate is tensile and energetic, with tangy acidity to oppose the luscious texture and ripe fruits, finishing very long and layered. This is so classy—effortlessly traversing the tightrope of ripeness and precision. Yes!
2017 Chardonnay Justice Vineyard – 94
The 2017 Chardonnay Justice Vineyard opens with notes of gunflint and toast that give way to pie crust, baked golden apple, honeyed peaches, crushed hazelnuts, button mushroom and cheese rind with hints of jasmine and sweet spice. The silky, medium-bodied palate offers everything you want in great Chardonnay—toasty fruits, spices and savory nuances—lifted by tangy acidity and finishing long, layered and energetic. This will benefit from another year or two in bottle.
2017 Chardonnay Estate – 92
The 2017 Chardonnay Estate gives aromas of toast, fresh quince, golden apples, wet hay, hazelnut and honey with notes of jasmine and white peach. Medium-bodied, it has a sleek, rounded texture and intense savory fruits, refreshed by lip-smacking acidity and finishing long and honeyed.
2017 Pinot Noir Casteel – 94
The 2017 Pinot Noir Casteel has a pale to medium ruby-purple color. The nose features aromas of crushed cranberries and raspberries, rhubarb, black cherries and blueberry hints with nuances of violets, autumn leaves, dusty earth and bergamot. The medium-bodied palate is concentrated and spicy with chocolate-textured tannins, mouthwatering acidity and a long, layered, energetic finish. This is approachable right now and is utterly delicious.
2017 Pinot Noir Southeast Block – 95
Pale to medium ruby-purple, the 2017 Pinot Noir Southeast Block has a very pretty nose of crushed cranberries and raspberries, pomegranate, black cherries, blood orange, violets and warm earth with touches of tar and pipe tobacco. It’s medium-bodied, silky and very intense with loads of fruit, spice and floral layers, expertly framed and super fresh, finishing very long and very layered. This is so New World and so classy!
2017 Pinot Noir Justice Vineyard – 94
Medium ruby-purple, the 2017 Pinot Noir Justice Vineyard opens with notes of tar and turned earth over black cherries, blackcurrants, crushed violets, pipe tobacco, graphite, aniseed and baking spice. It’s medium-bodied and silky with intense, spice-laced fruits, a sturdy frame and juicy acidity to refresh the very long, layered finish.
2017 Pinot Noir Flat Block – 93
The pale ruby-purple colored 2017 Pinot Noir Flat Block comes from Pommard clone vines planted in 1979. It’s scented of crushed black cherries, red currant and rhubarb with nuances of violets, fragrant earth, dried lilacs, orange peel and dust. The medium-bodied palate is silky and slow to blossom, with finely grained tannins, juicy acidity and a long, floral and spice-laced finish.
2017 Pinot Noir Æolian – 93+
The 2017 Pinot Noir Æolian “is usually a blend of our younger fruit,” says winemaker Ben Casteel. “I’m curious about massal selection because, at some point, we will have to replant half the property. So, I’m interested in seeing what those young vines can do on the same soil.” Pale to medium ruby-purple in color, it opens with bright, inviting blueberries, boysenberries, crushed black cherries, baking spice, warm earth, tree bark, dried violet and potpourri. It’s medium-bodied and lushly fruited in the mouth with lots of spicy nuance, grainy and fresh with a long, layered finish. So classy! This is approachable now but has the fruit and structure to age very well.
2017 Pinot Noir West Block – 93
The medium ruby-purple colored 2017 Pinot Noir West Block comes from the oldest vines on the property, Wadensvil clones planted in 1977. It features scents of pipe tobacco, underbrush, peppercorn and cured meats to begin, fleshing out to crushed cranberries and black cherries with loads of floral and mineral nuance. Medium-bodied and broody, it’s firm and grainy with a long, lifted, minerally finish. This is approachable now but will reward cellaring.
2017 Pinot Noir Estate – 92
Medium ruby-purple, the 2017 Pinot Noir Estate has an intense, inviting nose of blueberries, boysenberries, crushed black cherries, black licorice, dusty earth and forest floor with a soft frame of sweet spices. Medium-bodied, it has the stuffing and structure to age well, sturdy but fresh and with a long, flavorful finish.
JAMESSUCKLING.COM – February 2020
Chardonnay High Wire 2018 -96
A fresh, flinty and chalky edge with lemon pith, grapefruit and wet stones. Fresh melon, white peaches and pears, too. The palate has a very composed feel with assertively fresh acidity, underscoring quite pure lemons. Fresh hazelnuts to close. Exceptional focus and tension here. This is a parcel that sits right in the sweet spot of quality in the 2018 harvest. Drink or hold.
Chardonnay Casteel 2018 -94
The nose here is fresh and chalky with a fresh, flinty edge to the sliced pears, apple pastry and white peaches. The palate has a fresh attitude with good focus on entry and a build of lemons and grapefruit with peaches and pears, then apple pie to close. The pick of the crop each vintage at Bethel Heights. Drink or hold.
Chardonnay Justice Vineyard 2018 -93
There’s an exotic edge to this with plenty of ripe yellow peaches and spiced custard, as well as sliced-mango aromas. The palate has a very juicy and succulent style with an elegantly smooth, focused finish. Drink now.
Chardonnay Estate 2018 -93
A blend of five parcels, this has attractively flinty lemons, pears and white peaches with hints of freshly baked biscuit and spicy oak. The palate has a very juicy, lemon-juice and lemon-pastry core with bright acidity and a smoothly layered finish. Drink now.
Pinot Noir Southeast Block 2018 -96
Planted in 1979, this has the most striking fruit presence on the nose of all the Bethel Heights pinots with notes of blueberries and violets, as well as cocoa and blackberries. The palate has a very fleshy core of darker fruit flavors with good concentration of fruit and smoothly honed, powerful tannin. A parcel that has a real affinity with the 2018 vintage. Drink or hold.
Pinot Noir Flat Block 2018 -95
Planted in 1979, this has a very complex nose with violets and a wealth of fragrant, woody spices and sous bois, as well as red and dark cherries. The palate has a very juicy feel with vertical dimension, creating levity and a vibrant feel. Succulent, lively and delicious pinot noir with a smooth, fresh, pastry-like texture at the finish. Drink or hold.
Pinot Noir West Block 2018 -95
Planted in 1977, this has a very attractive, ripe dark and red-cherry nose with plenty of spices, leaves and dry forest wood. The palate delivers an impression of depth with cherry and cocoa flavors, wrapped in very long, succulent and sturdy tannins. Great concentration here. This is a powerfully struck, singular note of pinot. Try from 2024.
Pinot Noir Justice Vineyard 2018 -94
Planted in 1999, this has an exotic nose with a crushed-violet edge, as well as rich, cassis and blueberry aromas, in a more singular expression, – at least for now. The palate has a very fresh core of vibrant, fresh blue-fruit and blueberry-pastry flavors. Long and pure. Drinkable now, but better from 2023.
Pinot Noir Aeolian 2018 -93
This is the youngest and highest section of the vineyard, planted in 2002 on volcanic clay soils. The nose has a fresh and sweetly perfumed edge with red apples, red cherries and stones, as well as a crushed-rose note. The palate has a succinct delivery of sturdy, chiseled tannin and plenty of ripe, dark-cherry and berry flavor. Drink or hold.
Pinot Noir Estate 2018 -93
This has a sultry nose with violet and dark-cherry aromas, as well as forest-wood, sous-bois and spicy, earthy notes. The palate has a very rich delivery of super pure dark cherries and such assertive, driving, older-vine tannins. Delicious pinot with plenty of flavor. Drink or hold.
Pinot Blanc 2018 -92
This offers very drinkable style with apple-pastry and pie-crust aromas, as well as hints of lemon biscuit. The palate has impressive acidity and delicious, apple-pie flavors, laced with fresh lemons at the finish. Drink now.
Pinot Gris 2018 -91
Poached pears and apples with pie crust and a sweet, floral edge. Some peaches here, too. The palate has an innate sense of balance with smooth, long and charming presence. Drink now.
WINE SPECTATOR INSIDER OCTOBER 2019
2017 Pinot Noir Aeolian – 94 points Shows grace and presence, with compelling and complex raspberry, dusky spice and orange tea flavors that build richness toward polished tannins. Drink now through 2026.—T.F.
WINE & SPIRITS OCTOBER 2019
2017 Chardonnay Estate– 92pts, Best Buy. Oak imprints this wine with a nutty, caramel scent, which gives way after a day to ethereal flavors of green apple and lime, salty and lifted. The texture is firm, richer than expected, infused with a pannacotta creaminess. – P.J.C
2017 Chardonnay Justice Vineyard – 92pts There’s a sort of old school elegance to this chardonnay, from a wind-swept vineyard planted in 1999. Composed as much of dried fruits as flesh, the flavors have a textural breadth and density that bring to mind roasted or grilled peach and apple, and a smoky, nutty, leesy background. The wine is elegant and composed, with just enough oak to frame it for butter-roasted salmon. – P.J.C
JAMESSUCKLING.COM – NICK STOCK JULY 2019
2017 Pinot Noir Casteel – 95
A beautifully composed wine from the outset, offering ripe dark cherries, swathed in assertively toasty complexity with wild herbs and bracken. This is really fresh with a handsomely savory thread. The palate has a smooth, sleek and polished feel with a seamless build of tannin that carries plenty of rich flavor into the defined and powerful finish. Drink or hold.
2017 Pinot Noir Flat Block – 95
Seductively complex already, this has an earthy and gently spicy edge with dry stones and a web of herbal notes, as well as a very fluid, precise and attractively fleshy core of pure red cherries. Silky and focused. Pommard clone, planted in 1979 on own roots in shallow, volcanic soil. Drink or hold.
2017 Chardonnay Casteel- 94
There’s a wealth of complexity and impressive, concentrated fruit here. Aromas of pears and baked apples, as well as lime, lead to a palate with smooth and alluringly fleshy build and concentrated, melon and spiced-pear flavors. So smooth and impressively long. Drink over the next five years.
2017 Chardonnay Justice Vineyard-94
From the adjoining block and plantings from between 1999 and 2006, this has a quite pared-back feel. Sleek and attractively composed and chiseled with fragrant grapefruit, lemons and white peaches. Very refined palate that has fresh and smoothly rendered texture. Toasted almonds and lemon rind to close. Drink over the next five years.
2017 Pinot Noir Southeast Block- 94
There’s a strong thread of violet-like florals here, together with fresh blueberries and attractively spicy complexity. The palate delivers richness and depth with very round, assertively fleshy fruit texture and a long, velvety finish. Drink over the next eight years.
2017 Pinot Noir West Block – 94
There’s a savory edge to the nose here with an exotically fragrant notes of pomegranates, blood-oranges and red cherries. The palate has a brightly expressed sense of purity and focus with silky, fine tannins, holding long on the finish. The oldest vines on the estate, planted in 1977 on own roots. Impressive cut and depth here. Drink or hold.
2017 Pinot Noir Estate- 93
A very foresty array of red berries, leaves and herbs with woody spices, all making for a complex proposition. The palate has a nicely contained feel with a fluid build of red to darker cherries, in a very approachable mode. Nicely cast tannin at the finish, which holds well. Drink or hold.
2017 Chardonnay Estate- 93
Attractive, pear and chamomile-flower aromas with a fresh array of lemons, grapefruit and melon. The palate has great depth and focus with a juicy, fresh and lithe run to the finish. Long and sustained. Drink or hold.
VINOUS JUNE 2019
2016 Pinot Noir Southeast Block– 94
Limpid ruby-red. A highly perfumed bouquet evokes ripe red fruits, candied rose, vanilla and Asian spices, and a bright mineral overtone gains strength with air. Juicy and precise on the palate, offering alluringly sweet,mineral-laced raspberry, floral pastille and spicecake flavors and a touch of succulent herbs. Delivers a suave blend of power and delicacy and finishes very long and smooth, with harmonious tannins and outstanding clarity. (40% new French oak) — Josh Raynolds
2016 Pinot Noir Casteel– 94
Deep brilliant red. Intense aromas of ripe dark berries, candied flowers, exotic spices and mocha are joined by hints of vanilla and musky earth as the wine opens up. Deeply concentrated but lively as well, offering juicy black raspberry, cherry cola, candied rose and spicecake flavors that show excellent clarity and back-end lift. Finishes impressively long, with harmonious tannins and resonating floral and dark berry qualities. (40% new French oak) — Josh Raynolds
2016 Pinot Noir West Block – 93
Bright red. An intensely perfumed nose displays ripe red berries, potpourri and exotic spices, and a hint of musky herbs builds in the background. Juicy and energetic on the palate, offering sappy raspberry, bitter cherry and lavender pastille flavors and a suggestion of spicecake. Shows sharp delineation and floral lift on the gently tannic finish, which leaves a juicy raspberry liqueur note behind. (50% new French oak) — Josh Raynolds
2016 Pinot Noir Justice Vineyard– 93
Shimmering ruby. A complex, expressive bouquet evokes fresh dark berries, candied flowers, incense and vanilla. Concentrated yet energetic, offering palatestaining, spice-laced black raspberry, cherry cola and violet pastille flavors that pick up a smoky mineral note on the back half. Displays a suave blend of depth and delicacy and finishes with sharp delineation, harmonious tannins and lingering spiciness. (40% new French oak) — Josh Raynolds
2016 Pinot Noir Aeolian– 91
Brilliant red. An expansive, spice-tinged bouquet evokes ripe red and blue fruits, vanilla and cola, and a floral nuance builds as the wine opens up. Sweet and seamless in texture, showing very good depth and sharp definition to the raspberry, boysenberry and bitter chocolate flavors. A hint of earthiness emerges on a very long, penetrating finish shaped by smooth tannins. (40% new French oak) — Josh Raynolds
2016 Pinot Noir Estate– 91
Vivid red. Assertively perfumed blackberry, floral oil and baking spice aromas are complemented by subtle cola and mocha accents. Shows very good depth as well as energy on the palate, offering sweet, mineral-laced cherry and dark berry flavors and a touch of spicecake. Finishes sappy and quite long, with repeating spice and floral nuances and gently chewy tannins. (35% new French oak) — Josh Raynolds
JAMESSUCKLING.COM NOVEMBER 30th 2018, OREGON DISPLAYS COLLECTIVE GREATNESS
Chardonnay Casteel 2016- 96
Very complex and sophisticated, flinty, reductive notes that play into fresh and vibrant, yellow citrus fruit. The palate has a very assertive, long and detailed core of fresh citrus flavors and a wealth of mouthwatering acidity driving the long finish. Exciting chardonnay. Drink now
Pinot Noir Casteel 2016 – 95
A very complex and soulful impression on the nose with wild, spice-dusted red cherries and a sappy, blue-fruit edge. The palate has freshness with a succulent build of tannins that delivers a long and deeply juicy, focused finish. Drink or hold.
Chardonnay Estate 2016 – 94
Impressively complex and subtly flinty nose with yellow citrus fruit and peaches. The palate has a very fresh and refined shape and delivers concentrated and focused fruit. Drink now.
Pinot Noir Estate 2016 – 93
Attractive, sous-bois aromas with plenty of interest already in this complex, fresh pinot. The palate has a very strikingly fresh array of ripe red cherries and blood oranges with an attractive, grainy, long and supple finish. Drink or hold.
THE WINE SPECTATOR INSIDER, NOVEMBER 2018
Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills AEOLIAN 2016 – 94
Expressive and powerfully built, with vibrant black raspberry and orange peel aromas that open to a vibrant core of tannins and acidity, wrapped in dynamic cherry and spice flavors. Best from 2020 through 2025.—T.F.
THE WINE SPECTATOR INSIDER, OCTOBER 2018
Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills Flat Block 2016- 95
Deeply structured, yet seamlessly rich and polished, with spirited cherry blossom and raspberry aromas that open to fervent rhubarb, savory tea and cardamom flavors, building toward refined tannins. Drink now through 2025. From Oregon.—T.F.
Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills West Block 2016 – 93
Structured and dynamic, yet polished, with deep black raspberry flavors laced with dark tea, savory spice and mineral notes that build toward refined tannins. Drink now through 2025.—T.F.
Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills Estate 2016 – 93
Silky and vibrant, with spirited raspberry and violet aromas that open to effortlessly complex flavors of black cherry, black tea, cardamom and other dark spices. Drink now through 2024.—T.F.
WINE ADVOCATE, AUGUST 31 2018 – ERIN BROOKS
2017 Pinot Noir Rosé – 90
Made from Pinot Noir vines planted in 1977, the 2017 Pinot Noir Rosé is pale to medium salmon-pink in color with a nose of ripe red berries, strawberry and peach with touches of wet rock and spice. Light-bodied with lovely berries and white peach character in the mouth, it has a good line of crushed rock minerality and refreshing acidity, finishing long with a pleasant touch of phenolic texture. 250 cases produced.
2017 Pinot Gris- 90
From vines planted in the 1990s, the 2017 Pinot Gris features aromas of Red Delicious apples, baked pear, nutty touches and faint white spring blossoms. Light to medium-bodied, it’s very crisp and refreshing in the mouth with wonderful apple flesh notes, finishing with just a touch of texture and lovely floral hints. 500 cases produced.
2016 Chardonnay Casteel- 95
Tasted from magnum, the 2016 Chardonnay Casteel opens with intense mineral notions on the nose, aromas of pulverized stone and petrichor over lemon meringue, Red Delicious apples, hazelnuts, honey toast and clotted cream. Medium-bodied with a light creamy texture, it has beautiful white flowers in the mouth with honey nut and apple pie nuances and a streak of crushed rock running with the very bright acidity, finishing very, very long and honeyed. 225 cases produced.
2016 Chardonnay Estate- 91
The 2016 Chardonnay Estate is scented of fresh cut hay, hazelnuts and honey toast with white flowers, lemon confit and cream nuances. Medium-bodied with a lovely creamy texture, it fills the mouth with warm apple pie, cinnamon stick and crème fraîche flavors with accents of honey, citrus blossoms and toast, with juicy, mouthwatering acidity and a touch of pleasant texture on the long finish. 650 cases produced.
2016 Chardonnay Justice Vineyard- 91
From vines planted in 1999, the 2016 Chardonnay Justice Vineyard is scented of fresh cut hay, Golden Delicious apples and warm earth with notes of toast and honeycomb. Medium-bodied, it features lovely spiced red apple flavors in the mouth, with touches of tangy yogurt and nutty accents, a wonderful line of mouthwatering acidity, finishing long with crushed rock notes. 200 cases produced.
2016 Chardonnay The High Wire- 96
This wine is made from Chardonnay vines planted in 1977. The 2016 Chardonnay The High Wire opens with honey toast, hazelnut, lemon confit and tangy yogurt with nuances of freshly cut hay, white blossoms and red apple skin. Medium-bodied and creamy textured, it has a firm streak of crushed rock in the mouth over honeysuckle, honeycomb, toast and spiced apple pie plus mouthwatering acidity and a lovely texture to carry the very long, savory, honeyed finish. 100 cases produced.
2016 Pinot Noir AEolian- 91
This wine is made using young vines, planted from 1994-2002. Pale to medium ruby-purple, the 2016 Pinot Noir AEolian has a nose of warm black cherries and black berries with notes of earth and sliced prosciutto plus touches of violets and peppercorn. Medium-bodied, it fills the mouth with warm, ripe black fruit notions, with a lovely frame of fine-grained tannins, juicy, mouthwatering acidity and perfumed earth carrying the very long finish. 400 cases produced.
2016 Pinot Noir Estate- 91
The 2016 Pinot Noir Estate is pale to medium ruby-purple with beautiful scents of warm blackberries and black cherries with notes of bramble berry and blueberry compote plus meaty touches of charcuterie and pink peppercorn. Medium-bodied, it has a good core of black fruits in the mouth, with a frame of grainy tannins and plenty of freshness, finishing long with blue fruit and perfumed soil notes. 2,400 cases produced.
2016 Pinot Noir Casteel- 94
Pale to medium ruby-purple, the nose of the 2016 Pinot Noir Casteel bursts from the glass with violet and lilac aromas over blueberry pie, cardamom, potpourri, bitter peel, tree bark and tilled loamy earth. Medium-bodied, the palate is packed full of blackberry and bramble berry preserves notes, with a wonderful frame of fine-grained tannins and loads of freshness, finishing very, very long with layer after layer of earth and savory notions.
2016 Pinot Noir Estate Flat Block- 95
From own-rooted vines planted in 1979, the pale to medium ruby-purple colored 2016 Pinot Noir Estate Flat Block opens with bramble berry jam, smoked meats and black peppercorn aromas over notes of baked red cherries, cinnamon stick and floral perfume. Medium-bodied, it fills the mouth with warm, ripe black and red cherries and berries notions, swelling with lovely sweet perfume and spice, structured with fine, grainy tannins and gobs of freshness, finishing very long with tons of sweet fruit. 100 cases produced.
2016 Pinot Noir Justice Vineyard- 93
From vines planted in 1999, the pale to medium ruby-purple colored 2016 Pinot Noir Justice Vineyard has a lovely nose of lilacs and violets over a core of warm black cherries and berries, blueberry pie and bramble berry preserves notions with touches of sliced prosciutto, black pepper and crushed rock. Medium-bodied, it fills the mouth with perfumed warm earth and black fruits flavors, with beautiful grainy tannins and great freshness lifting the long finish. 450 cases produced.
2016 Pinot Noir Southeast Block- 95 From own-rooted vines planted in 1979, the 2016 Pinot Noir Southeast Block is pale to medium ruby-purple with a nose of spiced blueberry and black cherry pie, cloves, cardamom, smoked meat, dried leaves and floral perfume—there’s lots of spice here! Medium-bodied, it packs in the sweet blue and black fruits in the mouth, laced with beautiful spice and savory notions, mouthwatering acidity and very ripe, fine-grained tannins, finishing very long and very spicy. 125 cases produced.
2016 Pinot Noir West Block- 93 From own-rooted vines planted in 1977, the 2016 Pinot Noir West Block is pale to medium ruby-purple in color with warm cinnamon stick and clove notes over ripe black berries, cherries and currant aromas with a perfumed core of pepper, potpourri, underbrush and dried leaves. Medium-bodied, it fills the mouth with sweet black fruits and oodles of spicy/savory notions—sliced prosciutto, potpourri, tree bark, bitter peel—with fine-grained tannins and plenty of freshness, finishing very long and earthy. 450 cases produced.
WINE SPECTATOR, MAY 2018
2015 Pinot Noir Aeolian – 92
Well-knit and refined, with floral raspberry, crushed rock and spice flavors that build presence and richness on the finish. Drink now through 2023.—T.F.
2015 Pinot Noir West Block – 92
Subtly brooding but polished and complex, with expressive black cherry, jasmine tea and clove flavors that linger toward refined tannins. Drink now through 2023. 171 cases made.–T.F.
2015 Pinot Noir Justice Vineyard – 91
Structured and focused, with brooding blueberry and spice flavors that persist on a long finish toward refined tannins. Drink now through 2024. 280 cases made. -T.F.
2015 Pinot Noir Estate – 91 Tightly focused, with a lively core of fresh acidity and broad-shouldered tannins, keenly balanced by cherry and guava flavors, accented by hints of sandalwood and spice. Best from 2019 through 2023. 3,157 cases made. -T.F.
VINOUS, JANUARY 2018
2015 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Casteel – 94
Deep vivid red. Smoke-accented black raspberry, cherry cola and candied rose scents, along with hints of star anise and mocha. Silky, sweet and broad on the palate, offering juicy, densely packed red and blue fruit and spicecake flavors that pick up floral pastille and licorice flourishes as the wine opens up. Supple tannins add shape to a smooth, extremely long finish that leaves behind sappy red berry liqueur and five-spice powder notes. — Josh Raynolds
2015 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Flat Block – 94
Lurid red. Spice-accented raspberry and cherry aromas, along with complicating woodsmoke, cola and Asian spice flourishes. Silky and focused on the palate, offering sweet, densely packed red fruit liqueur, succulent herb and violet pastille flavors that become livelier as the wine opens up. Fine-grained tannins frame an extremely long, spice-tinged finish that shows outstanding clarity and lingering floral and red fruit notes. — Josh Raynolds
2015 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Southeast Block – 93
Brilliant red. A sexy, highly perfumed bouquet evokes ripe red fruits, incense, cola and potpourri, and a smoky mineral overtone builds in the glass. Sweet and expansive on the palate, offering intense raspberry liqueur, cherry cola and spicecake flavors and a suave vanilla accent. Shows outstanding clarity and lift on the youthfully tannic finish, which leaves a sappy red fruit preserve note behind. — Josh Raynolds
2015 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir West Block – 93
Light bright ruby. Highly perfumed and expansive on the nose, displaying intense red and dark berry, potpourri and Moroccan spice scents and a hint of smoky minerality. Stains the palate with appealingly sweet raspberry, cherry and spicecake flavors that show a deft blend of richness and vivacity thanks to a spine of juicy acidity. The floral and spice notes repeat strongly on a very long, seamless finish framed by gentle, harmonious tannins. — Josh Raynolds
2015 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Justice Vineyard – 93
Limpid ruby-red. Fresh dark berries, pungent flowers, mocha and a hint of smoky minerals on the deeply perfumed nose. Juicy and expansive on the palate, offering bitter cherry and blackberry flavors supported by a spine of zesty acidity. Picks up licorice candy and cola notes with air and finishes impressively long, smoky and smooth, with velvety tannins sneaking in late. — Josh Raynolds
2015 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Aeolian – 92
Bright-rimmed ruby-red. Highly perfumed red and blue 92 fruit aromas are complicated by suggestions of licorice, mocha and candied rose. Smooth and fleshy on the palate, offering sweet black raspberry and cherry cola flavors that firm up and become spicier on the back half. Subtle, harmonious tannins build slowly on a very long, floral-tinged finish that shows no rough edges. — Josh Raynolds
2015 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Estate- 91
Vivid red. Fresh raspberry, cherry, licorice candy and 91 cola scents show very good lift and clarity. Supple, open-knit red berry, mocha and rose pastille flavors pick up a spicy nuance on the back half. Displays very good clarity and floral thrust on the long, focused finish, which features well-knit tannins and repeating spiciness. — Josh Raynolds
WINE ENTHUSIAST, FEBRUARY 2017
2014 Bethel Heights West Block Pinot Noir – 94 “Cellar Selection”
The top drop from Bethel Heights in this vintage, this is a dark, dense evocation of Pinot Noir at its most authoritative and engaging. It’s a muscular mix of mulberry, blueberry and blue plum, with a dash of sassafras for good measure. The length and sense of throttled power suggest that this is a fine cellar candidate. Drink now through 2028.
2014 Bethel Heights Southeast Block Pinot Noir – 93
The unique flavors of this special block match pretty red-berry fruit to aromatic suggestions of potpourri and bouquet garni. It’s detailed and nicely knitted together, with a pleasing hint of coconut carrying through the finish.
2014 Bethel Heights Casteel Chardonnay – 93
As befits a reserve-level wine, this is big, bold, rich and full-flavored. It amplifies the ripe apple and peach fruit, and slathers it in buttery caramel and sweet spice. Drink now through 2020.
2014 Bethel Heights Estate Chardonnay – 92
An outstanding value in a top-level Oregon Chardonnay, this beautifully rendered, barrel-fermented wine is a showcase of sharply defined flavors. The tree fruits are highlighted with details of spice and new wood, clearly delineated and well-matched.
2014 Bethel Heights Estate Pinot Noir – 91
Lush and forward, this lovely wine is bursting with red and black-cherry fruit. It socks you (gently) in the nose and seduces you in the mouth, with streaks of cola and a dash of pepper. No need to wait on this wine, as it is already drinking like a dream.
2014 Bethel Heights Flat Block Pinot Noir – 92
This limited block selection comes from own-rooted vines planted in 1979. Full-fruited flavors combine into a fresh and lush mix of berries and cherries with a citrusy kick. There’s a tropical punch sensibility combined with the texture and depth of a very fine Pinot. The tannins are polished and in perfect proportion.
2014 Bethel Heights Justice Vineyard Pinot Noir – 92
Firm black cherry fruit opens with a slightly liquorous, Bourbon barrel accent. This young wine is still knitting together, but with ample breathing time it smoothes out, delivering a robust mix of ripe fruit, highlights of sassafras, and a hint of charcoal. Drink now or tuck it away another few years.
2013 Bethel Heights Casteel Pinot Noir – 92
A barrel by barrel selection results in this reserve-level cuvée. Round, forward, spicy and toasty, it’s a solid, almost chunky style with bold black-cherry fruit. Barrel aging brings up highlights of coffee and toast. Think duck confit with this bottle, and enjoy it over the next few years.
2013 Bethel Heights Casteel Chardonnay – 92
A reserve-level, barrel-fermented cuvée, this has a fresh and creamy mouthfeel. It blends crisp tree fruits with bracing minerality, and finishes lightly with a pat of butter.
2013 Bethel Heights Estate Chardonnay – 90
Firm and polished, this barrel-fermented wine is just rounded off enough, without damping the bright, almost crunchy fruit. There’s a light touch of toast and the structure for further bottle age to improve it. Drink 2017–2025.
WINE SPECTATOR, FEBRUARY 2017
A Pioneer Reaches the Pinnacle in Oregon
Bethel Heights Vineyard grows its grapes on 103 acres in the Eola- Amity Hills AVA, a windy area just north of Salem, the state capital. The family-owned winery is an Oregon pioneer, founded in 1977, and all its wines are produced from estate-owned vineyards. Cousins and co-owners Ben and Mimi Casteel represent the second generation of the winery’s founding Casteel, Dudley and Webb families. Ben, the winemaker, pursues a light and delicate style, decidedly old-school, putting the emphasis on fruit flavors and intensity and delivering a marvelous sense of weightlessness in the wines.
The original Bethel Heights vineyard and the adjacent Justice Vineyard, which was planted in 1999, cover 74 acres on the undulating western slopes of the Eola Hills. Ingram Lane, planted in 2008, tucks into rolling hills on the eastern side of the AVA. The winery specializes in Pinot Noir from specific blocks within these three vineyard sites. The family now makes more than 2,000 cases of an entry-level estate Pinot Noir, and more than 1,000 cases of an estate Chardonnay. Smaller lots, including the Casteel Reserve (a blend of selected barrels) and single-block bottlings, go for a bit more. A stunning wine called Æolian is sourced from recent plantings in windy portions of the estate vineyard.
Other bottlings, such as Flat Block, West Block and Southeast Block, each made from specific sections of estate vineyards, demonstrate the differences in flavor and structure that can come from plots literally feet apart. These contrasts are much like those found in Burgundy.
2014 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills Æolian – 95 | 625 cases made
The Casteels identified sections of the vineyard, planted in the 1990s, that are exposed to more wind, and created this aromatically pure, intense and deep style.
2014 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills Flat Block – 93 | 300 cases made
Often the estate’s best wine, this is always ripe and vibrant, centered on currant and plum flavors. Finishes with harmony.
2014 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills Justice Vineyard – 93 | 245 cases made
This bottling often shows generosity, with focus and dark fruit flavors, accented by herbal hints.
2014 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills Estate – 92 | 2,319 cases made
This selection from all parts of the vineyard comes together seamlessly on an open texture.
2013 Bethel Heights Chardonnay Eola-Amity Hills – 90 | 1,084 cases made
This aims for a lighter style, with tension to the fruit and mineral flavors, persisting into an expressive finish.
WINE ENTHUSIAST, DECEMBER 2017
Bethel Heights 2015 Justice Vineyard Chardonnay – 94
Almost decadently rich, this seduces with aromas of toasted hazelnuts, buttery stone fruits and sweet sliced pineapple. In perfect balance and drinking beautifully, it should remain at its peak through the mid-2020s.
Bethel Heights 2015 Justice Vineyard Pinot Noir – 94
Juicy dark-purple fruits hold the center of this supple, engaging wine that’s still young, with chewy tannins. There’s tangy bite to the acids and plenty of muscle for aging. Drink 2020 through 2030 and possibly longer.
Bethel Heights 2015 Casteel Pinot Noir – 93
A barrel-selection, top-of- the-line cuvée, this is intensely aromatic with black cherry, soft leather and baking spices in play. Flavors focus in the midpalate, leading into supple tannins and a smattering of cocoa powder. Overall it’s a big wine, full flavored, balanced and already drinking very well.
Bethel Heights 2014 The High Wire Estate Chardonnay – 94
The debut vintage for this cuvée, this is made from 100% Wente clone vines planted in 1977. It’s richly concentrated on the palate, layered with dried apricot, grapefruit and pineapple flavors. A lush, buttery note enwraps its long, satisfying, full-bodied finish.
THE WINE ADVOCATE, AUGUST 2017
2014 Bethel Heights • Chardonnay The High Wire Rating – 97 Produced from 100% high wire Wente Clone, 1977 plantings, the 2014 Chardonnay The High Wire has pronounced honeyed peach, lemon drop, pineapple and passion fruit notes with touches of crushed stones, flint and praline. Medium-bodied, rich, refreshing and absolutely packed with the most incredible flavor layers imaginable from this grape, this wine ticks all the Chardonnay boxes and then some. 100 cases were made.
2015 Bethel Heights • Chardonnay The High Wire Rating – 96 Produced from 100% high wire Wente Clones planted in 1977, the 2015 Chardonnay The High Wire delivers intense aromas of lemon peel, yuzu, white peaches and green guava with hints of struck match, crushed almonds, croissant and orange blossoms. Medium-bodied, the palate is wildly intense, filling the mouth with citrus and mineral layers that challenge the quality of anything out of the Côte de Beaune. The finish is especially long. Only 100 cases were made.
2015 Bethel Heights • Chardonnay Casteel Rating – 94 The 2015 Chardonnay Casteel Reserve has a seductively savory and rich nose of brioche, cashews and beeswax over a core of honeyed apricots, cedar and ginger. Medium-bodied and with a gorgeous creaminess to the texture, if fills the mouth with stone fruit and spice flavors, finishing with great length and depth. 300 cases were made.
2015 Bethel Heights • Chardonnay Justice Vineyard Rating – 93+ The 2015 Chardonnay Justice Vineyard is intensely scented of grapefruit, honeydew melon and lemon curd with hints of honeyed toast and marzipan. Medium-bodied, there is a lovely savory/mineral element in the mouth with a racy backbone of acid cutting through the concentrated flavors, finishing long and zesty.
2015 Bethel Heights • Chardonnay Estate Rating – 90 The 2015 Chardonnay Estate Grown is scented of white peaches, spiced apples and baking bread with hints of shaved almonds and allspice. Medium-bodied, fresh and expressive, it offers a good core of stone fruit and toasty flavors with a pleasantly oily texture and great length.
2015 Bethel Heights • Pinot Noir Estate Flat Block Rating – 94+ About 300 cases typically made, coming exclusively from a single section of Pommard clone planted in 1979. Pale to medium ruby-purple in color, the 2015 Pinot Noir Estate Flat Block has a restrained, earthy nose of mossy bark, fungi and damp soil over a core of cranberries and red currants plus a hint of wild thyme. Medium-bodied, it delivers a fine, refreshing structure of tightly-grained tannins and light acid, framing intense, earthy flavors that finish long and layered.
2015 Bethel Heights • Pinot Noir Southeast Block Rating – 93 Coming from Pommard clone vines planted in 1979, the 2015 Pinot Noir Southeast Block has a pale to medium ruby-purple color and conjures notions of cherry cordial, raspberry preserves and mulberries on the nose with touches of baking spice, chocolate box and anise, plus a waft of black soil. The palate is wonderfully spicy and earthy, with a medium-bodied core of flesh well-framed by velvety tannins and great freshness, finishing with lingering cinnamon and clove notes.
2015 Bethel Heights • Pinot Noir West Block Rating – 93 The Pinot comes from Wadensvil clone vines planted in 1977. Pale to medium ruby-purple, the 2015 Pinot Noir West Block delivers notes of red roses, tilled soil, dried leaves and black truffles over a core of red currants and black cherries. Medium-bodied with lovely, finely-grained tannins to texture the generous red berry and earth layers, it has plenty of freshness and great persistence.
2015 Bethel Heights • Pinot Noir Justice Vineyard Rating – 92 Pale to medium ruby-purple in color, the 2015 Pinot Noir Justice Vineyard opens with beautiful floral notes of roses and violets with red currants, oolong tea, cinnamon stick and underbrush in the background. Medium to full-bodied, it delivers ripe, concentrated red berry and savory flavor layers with a firm, grainy backbone and good length. Drink Date 2017 – 2022
2015 Bethel Heights • Pinot Noir Aeolian Rating – 90 A blend from a small section of the property, the 2015 Pinot Noir Aeolian is scented of black raspberries, red currants and red roses with hints of dried Provence herbs, black pepper and sandalwood plus a hint of bark. Medium-bodied, the palate delivers mouth-filling red berry and earthy flavors with a frame of chewy tannins and lively acidity, finishing with herbal nuances.
JAMES SUCKLING, DECEMBER 2017
2015 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Casteel – 94
This beautiful pinot noir shows aromas of cherries, almonds and earth. Floral character, too. Medium body, firm and round tannins and a cool and long finish. Drink now or hold.
2015 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Justice Vineyard – 93
Almonds, blueberries, raspberries and white chocolate in this pinot noir. Medium to full body, round tannins and a fresh and mineral finish. Drink now or hold.
2015 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Estate – 93
Herbs, redcurrants, spices and some blueberries show on the nose now, which is a little closed. The palate though, is very velvety and shows lovely density with layers of fruit, fresh acidity and a long finish. Needs time to come around. Drink in 2020.
2015 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Aeolian – 91
This pinot noir shows blueberries, orchids and orange skin. Full body, round tannins and a precise and clean finish. Drink now or hold.
2015 Bethel Heights Chardonnay Casteel – 93
Beautiful aromas of apples, peaches, mangoes and pineapple. Medium to full body, a creamy texture with a pure, elegant and vibrant finish. Drink now or hold.
2015 Bethel Heights Chardonnay Estate – 91
This shows lots of apple pie, mangoes and peaches and even some petrol. Very full and intense, the acidity manages to hold things together and keep this fresh and clean if ripe. Drink now.
WINE ENTHUSIAST, FEBRUARY 2016
Bethel Heights 2013 Casteel Pinot Noir – 92
A barrel by barrel selection results in this reserve-level cuvée. Round, forward, spicy and toasty, it’s a solid, almost chunky style with bold black-cherry fruit. Barrel aging brings up highlights of coffee and toast. Think duck confit with this bottle, and enjoy it over the next few years. PG
Bethel Heights 2013 Aeolian Pinot Noir – 91
Generous black–cherry fruit anchors this barrel-aged wine that remains tartly acidic, with pretty accents of toast and mocha. Focused, young and fresh, it should drink optimally 2018-2028. Cellar Selection. PG
FORBES, FEBRUARY 2016
Oregon Pinot Noir and Boeuf Bourgignon
Oregon Pinot Noir and Boeuf Bourgignon
“The Estate Pinot is their entry level wine yet still, after six years aging, is only just approaching maturity. A tribute to seriously ambitious, and accomplished, winemaking.” -Nick Passmore
WINE ENTHUSIAST, AUGUST 2016
Bethel Heights 2014 Casteel Pinot Noir – 94 This is the winery’s reserve-level cuvée. It’s bright and high-toned, offering woody notes around lush cherry and mocha flavors. Delicious already, though more bottle age should further pull the barrel flavors into proper balance. Toasted marshmallow and caramel latté highlights adorn the buttery finish.
WINE SPECTATOR, FEBRUARY 2016
2013 Bethel Heights Chardonnay Eola-Amity Hills – 90
Fresh and lively, this lighter style offers tension to the pear, citrus and mineral flavors that persist into a focused and expressive finish. Drink now through 2020. 1,084 cases made. –HS
SAVEUR, FEBRUARY 2016
Saveur, February 2016
“GOOD-WITH- EVERYTHING RED, Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Estate 2012. This polished pinot adds a touch of class to everything from burgers to fish. Made by the second generation of one of Oregon’s pioneering wine families.” -Bruce Schoenfeld
WINE & SPIRITS, APRIL 2016
Bethel Heights 2013 Eola-Amity Hills Aeolian Pinot Noir – 92The initial impression this dark pinot makes is that of a savory depth, all spice and leather. With air, black cherry and a glint of raspberry emerge, framed by mineral tannins. It needs time to work into its structure, then serve with roast chicken. (1,500 cases)
WINE SPECTATOR INSIDER, JUNE 2016
Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills Æolian 2014 – 95Aromatically pure, with currant, plum, chocolate, mineral and floral notes mingling effortlessly and continuing into a long and expressive mouthful of open-textured intensity and depth. Has terrific presence and length. Best from 2017 through 2024. From Oregon.—H.S. 625 cases. On 2016’s list of “Hot Wines”
Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills Justice Vineyard 2014 – 93Focused, expressive and refined, layering the generous currant, blackberry. tobacco and dill flavors into a seamless package, roll- ing gently into a long finish against lightly prickly tannins. Best from 2018 through 2024.—H.S. 245 cases
Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills Flat Block 2014 – 93Ripe and vibrant, open-textured and centered on currant and plum fruit, picking up hints of wet stone and spice as the finish comes together harmoniously. Has presenceand depth. Best from 2018 through 2024.—H.S. 300 cases
THE WINE ADVOCATE, JUNE 2016
2014 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Casteel – 94
The 2014 Pinot Noir Casteel Reserve is more of a location-orientated cuvée since 2008, coming from two parcels within the Bethel Heights vineyard. It has a crisp and very focused bouquet with dark plum, cranberry leaf and cold stone aromas that show impressive transparency. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, very harmonious and cohesive with a supple texture, very pure with great tension and precision towards the finish. What a fabulous Pinot Noir – world class…one of the finest I tasted throughout my time in Oregon.
2014 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir West Block – 93
The 2014 Pinot Noir West Block comes from Bethel Heights’s oldest vines planted in 1977. It has a crisp, slightly chalky bouquet with redcurrant and cranberry scents, fine delineation and mineralité, though quite “serious” in style. The palate follows suit with firm and quite firm tannin; this is a serious style of Pinot Noir, but one beautifully balanced and focused, great tension from start to finish with a chalkiness coming through on the finish. This is an excellent Pinot Noir that should repay long-term ageing.
2014 Bethel Heights Chardonnay Casteel – 92
The 2014 Chardonnay Casteel Reserve showed great depth and intensity. It has a perfumed nose of white flowers and melted candle wax, very well defined with lime and frangipane aromas developing. The palate is well balanced with a crisp, citrus lemon and lime-driven opening… Tasting through their 2014s and a couple of early-bottled 2015 whites, Bethel Heights once again proved that they are one of the few Oregon producers to offer exemplary wines of both colors.
2014 Bethel Heights Chardonnay Justice Vineyard – 92
The maiden 2014 Chardonnay Justice Vineyard has an attractive nose of lime flower, pecan nuts and chalk dust, quite Mâconnais in style. The palate is clean and fresh on the entry, pralines and honeycomb notes with a lovely smoked walnut tincture lending it a Meursault-like finish… Bethel Heights once again proved that they are one of the few Oregon producers to offer exemplary wines of both colors.
2014 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Flat Block – 92
The 2014 Pinot Noir Estate Flat Block, from vines planted back in 1979 at around 538 vines per acre, has a perfumed, more floral bouquet than the 2014 Justice Vineyard, with crushed strawberry and redcurrant aromas that are well defined. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, impressive weight in the mouth, very finessed with a crisp, quite mineral-driven finish that lingers. There is something joyful and effortless about this Pinot Noir and it comes highly recommended.
2014 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Southeast Block – 90
The 2014 Pinot Noir Southeast Block, from vines planted in 1979, perhaps does not quite deliver the precision of the Flat Block that sits just above this vineyard. The fruit here is a shade darker, maybe earthier. The palate is medium-bodied with quite firm tannin in the mouth, linear and very focused, dark berry fruit laced with sous-bois and light spicy notes, leading to a structured finish that will probably need 2-3 years to really mellow and find its groove.
WINE SPECTATOR, AUGUST 2016
2014 Pinot Noir Estate – 92
Fresh and expressive, with depth to the plum, currant, floral and mineral flavors. Comes together seamlessly on the open-textured finish, leaving an echo of prickly tannins. -Harvey Steiman
JAMES SUCKLING, NOVEMBER 2016
2014 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Casteel – 93
Interesting aromas of blueberries, crush stones and dried strawberries follow through to full body, velvety tannins and a juicy finish. Delicious fruit. Drink or hold.
2014 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Flat Block – 94
Very interesting aromas of rust, stones, rosemary and strawberries. Full-bodied and tight yet formed and toned. Lovely potential here. Give a couple of years to come together. Better in 2018 or after.
2014 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Southeast Block – 93
Aromas of stones, rust and hints of redwood combined with strawberry and plum character. Always subtle. Medium body, a solid core of fruit and velvety tannins. Better in 2019.
2014 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Estate – 93
Lots of plum and spice character on the nose. Dried flowers, too. Full body, a solid core of fruit and ripe tannins. Very long and polished. A beauty now. Drink or hold.
VINOUS, DECEMBER 2016
2014 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Casteel – 93
Deep red. Sexy, highly perfumed aromas of ripe red and dark berries, patchouli and candied flowers; suave Asian spice and mineral nuances add urgency. Offers juicy, palate-staining black raspberry, cherry cola and spicecake flavors and sweet vanilla and mocha qualities that emerge steadily as the wine opens up. Plays richness off vivacity with a sure hand and closes extremely long, sweet and vaguely smoky, with just a hint of dusty tannins lending shape and grip. — Josh Raynolds
2014 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Flat Block – 92
Brilliant red. Sexy, mineral-accented cherry and red berry preserve scents pick up floral and cola nuances with air. Fleshy and expansive in the mouth, offering appealingly sweet raspberry and cherry flavors and suggestions of mocha and rose pastille. Nicely energetic for its power, finishing with solid, fruity punch, sneaky tannins and floral notes. — Josh Raynolds
2014 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Southeast Block – 92
Dark red. Smoke- and mineral-accented red and blue fruits, spicecake and cola on the deeply perfumed nose; suggestions of pungent flowers and licorice come up with aeration. Gently sweet cherry cola and boysenberry flavors are underscored by a core of smoky minerals that gains intensity with air. Smoothly plays power off vivacity and finishes very long and sweet, with harmonious tannins lending gentle grip. — Josh Raynolds
2014 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir West Block – 93
Ruby-red. Ripe red berry and incense aromas are complicated by suggestions of Asian spices and smoky minerals. Sweet and energetic on the palate, offering juicy red fruit liqueur and spicecake flavors that gain depth with air while picking up deeper licorice and cola nuances. Sappy, seamless and focused on the very long, smoke-tinged finish, which features fine-grained tannins and a late jolt of minerality. — Josh Raynolds
2014 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Justice Vineyard – 92
Deep red. Powerful, oak-spiced black raspberry, cherry- vanilla and mocha scents, along with hints of licorice and cola. Plush and broad on the palate, offering smoke-tinged cherry and dark berry flavors that slowly become brighter and more lively with air. Showing a fair amount oak influence right now, but there appears to be more than enough fruit to buffer it. Finishes smoky, spicy and very long, featuring an echoing cherry note and mounting tannins. — Josh Raynolds
2014 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Estate – 90
Limpid red. Vibrant mineral- and spice-tinged aromas of ripe cherry and red berries, complicated by a hint of blood orange. Clean and racy on entry, then deeper in the midpalate, offering bitter cherry and orange pith flavors with a sweet touch of candied rose. Dusty tannins come up slowly on a sappy, focused finish that lingers with very good, gently spicy persistence. — Josh Raynolds
WINE SPECTATOR, FEBRUARY 2015
2012 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Estate – 92
Soft and appealing, with gentle blackberry and black plum flavors riding easily over polished tannins and lingering on the expressive finish. The tannins are well-integrated, the flavors persistent. Drink now through 2022.
FORBES.COM, MAY 2015
2013 Bethel Heights Casteel Chardonnay
One of the best New World Chardonnays I’ve ever drunk. Lovely full Chard fruit not overwhelmed by too much oak, and set off by a fine citrus crispness that makes it super with food. This is a serious wine for thoughtful wine drinkers, and will be even better in 2 or 3 years when its rambunctious, adolescent vitality hasmellowed a bit. -Nick Passmore
EROBERTPARKER.COM, MARCH 2015
Bethel Heights Vineyard is one of the most coveted wineries in Oregon with a long track record of producing Pinot Noir from the top drawer. Established back in 1977, the winery was and still is, a family affair. Originally founded by brothers Ted and Terry Casteel and their wives, Bethel Heights is now managed by cousins Mimi and Ben Casteel, Mimi mainly out among the vines and Ben weaving everything together in the winery.
Bethel Heights was one of the wineries that I was expecting great things from – and thankfully the wines did not disappoint. Walking round the vineyard after my tasting it was clear to see that they are blessed with prime vineyard location. The oak here is prudently used and the wines have their own personalities – something to say. Cuvées such as the 2012 West Block Pinot Noir and 2012 Flat Block Pinot Noir demonstrate that these cousins can make some of the best Oregon Pinot Noir. -Neal Martin
2012 Pinot Noir Casteel – 93
The 2012 Pinot Noir Casteel is a selection of the best barrels from the Dijon 114 and 115 clones planted in 1996 and 1994 respectively. This vintage was picked October 6-7 at 23.5 Brix and sees 14 months in French oak, 40 percent new barrels. It has a genteel bouquet at first: pure red cherries, bergamot and strawberry that unfolds to reveal motes of chalk dust and flint. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, soft and rounded in the mouth, but not plush or luxuriant. It is very harmonious with overtly red fruit rather than black, a light pinch of cracked black pepper on the finish. Lovely.
2012 Pinot Noir Aeolian – 90
The maiden 2012 Aeolian Pinot Noir is named after the wind and comes from vines planted 1994-1999 on the estate. Apparently, the wind causes a bifurcation in quality, especially on the west side of the property. It was picked October 5-14 at 23.9 Brix and aged for 11 months in French oak, 40% new barrel. The bouquet is very appealing and in my mind, superior to the Pinot Noir Estate, better defined and demonstrating more mineralité. The palate is medium-bodied with tensile tannins. There is a pleasant prickle of spice, salted licorice and black truffle toward the finish. This is an understated Pinot Noir but one that is full of class.
2012 Pinot Noir Flat Block – 92
The 2012 Pinot Noir Estate Flat Block comes from a 3.3-acre block of Pommard vines that were planted in 1979 on shallow soils between 6 and 12 inches deep. It was picked October 8 at 23.9 Brix and aged for 17 months in 50 percent new French oak. It has a more expressive and outgoing bouquet compared to the West Block with exuberant raspberry and blueberry scents interspersed with quite strong mineral/cold wet stone scents. The palate is medium-bodied with supple, very lithe tannin that caress the mouth. This is designed to seduce from several paces: silky and poised with just a slight tinny reduction coming toward the finish. I would give this a year in bottle and you will then have a seriously fine Pinot Noir.
2012 Pinot Noir Justice Vineyard – 91
The 2012 Pinot Noir Justice Vineyard comes from a four-acre block planted in 1999 (Dijon 114 clone). Picked October 8 at 24.3 Brix and aged for 14 months in French oak (40% new oak), it has a refined, quite reserved bouquet that prioritizes mineralité over fruit intensity: red cherries, bergamot, sea spray and a touch of chalk. The palate is medium-bodied with a smooth, quite harmonious entry, whereby the fruit errs more toward the black side of the spectrum: blackcurrant and bilberry laced with cold stone and a pinch of white pepper. Slightly more masculine in style, it should be afforded 2-3 years in bottle.
2012 Pinot Noir West Block – 93
The 2012 Pinot Noir West Block comes from the oldest vines on the estate, planted in 1977. It was picked October 14 at 23.5 Brix and aged in French oak for 17 months in 50 percent new wood. It has a more open and expressive bouquet than the Justice Vineyard ’12: the veneer of red cherries and strawberry infused with sea spray and oyster shells. The palate is medium- bodied with supple tannin, very well-judged acidity and a harmonious, poised finish that is very feminine. What a beautiful Oregon Pinot Noir.
2012 Pinot Noir Southeast Block – 90+
The 2012 Pinot Noir Southeast Block comes from a six-acre parcel of Pommard clone vines, the “sister” of the Flat Block planted in the same year of 1979. It was picked October 10 at 22.5 Brix and aged for 17 months in French oak, half of them new. It has an understated bouquet at first, with slightly more savory red berry fruit, tertiary/damp undergrowth notes emerging with time. The palate is medium-bodied with darker fruit than the Flat Block: harmonious in the mouth with good backbone, but personality wise, broodier and more saturnine. Allow this a couple of years to come out of its shell.
WORLD OF FINE WINE
Issue 49 | Oct. 2015
Bruce Schoenfeld tells the inspiring story of the Casteel family, who, at a critical crossroads in Oregon’s development as a wine region, have bravely struck out on a radical route whose successful end will be survival on their own principled terms.
Click Here for the full artilce (PDF)
STEPHEN TANZER’S INTERNATIONAL WINE CELLAR, JULY/AUGUST 2014
2012 Bethel Heights Vineyard Aeolian Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills – 92
Brilliant ruby. High-pitched, mineral-laced red and dark berry scents are complemented by notes of cola, anise and vanilla bean. Silky and open-knit on entry, offering sweet black raspberry and rose pastille flavors that tighten up with air and pick up an exotic blood orange nuance. Shows excellent clarity and lift on the finish, which is framed by silky tannins.
2012 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Casteel Eola-Amity Hills – 92
Ruby-red. Intense mineral- and spice-accented aromas of red berries, cherry pit and fresh rose, with a hint of cola building with air. Shows excellent clarity and power in the mouth, offering sappy raspberry and bitter cherry flavors and a suave touch of spicecake. Finishes with a snap of juicy acidity, supple tannins and strong floral persistence.
2012 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Estate Eola-Amity Hills – 90
Bright red. Spicy black raspberry and cherry pit on the nose, with notes of white pepper and allspice adding complexity. Juicy and focused, offering cherry and dark berry flavors with a touch of medicinal bitterness. Turns sweeter with air and shows very good clarity on the finish, which is firmed by dusty, fine-grained tannins that fold smoothly into the wine’s fruit.
2011 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Carter Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills – 91
Brilliant ruby-red. Pungent dark berries, cherry pit and licorice on the nose, with subtle herb and earth nuances adding complexity. Sappy and focused, offering bitter cherry and blackberry flavors and a touch of spicecake on the back half. Finishes with strong tangy cut, a touch of cola and echoing dark berry and allspice qualities.
2011 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Justice Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills – 90
Brilliant ruby-red. High-pitched redcurrant, cherry and floral scents are complemented by suggestions of anise and succulent herbs. Lively and precise on the palate, offering tangy red fruit and bitter chocolate flavors that unwind slowly, picking up sweetness and a hint of five-spice powder. Chewy tannins firm the finish, which lingers with very good focus and vivacity.
2011 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Southeast Block Eola-Amity Hills – 91
Intense red berry and cherry pit aromas are complicated by anise, woodsmoke and musky underbrush. Appealingly sweet raspberry and rose pastille flavors are firmed by juicy acidity, picking up a peppery nuance with aeration, along with a touch of bitter herbs. Closes sappy, focused and quite long, with firming tannins building slowly and evenly.
2011 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Flat Block Eola-Amity Hills – 90
Ruby-red. Aromas of dried cherry, redcurrant and peppery spices, with notes of licorice and musky earth adding depth. On the palate, incisive bitter cherry and licorice flavors are given spine by juicy acidity and unfold slowly with air. Becomes steadily sweeter on the nicely focused finish, which is firmed by fine- grained tannins.
WINE & SPIRITS MAGAZINE, JUNE 2014
Bethel Heights 2011 Eola-Amity Hills Estate Justice Vineyard Pinot Noir – 92
Vinous and concentrated, this has a tannic undergirding that seems a hallmark of the 2011 vintage. There’s nice polish to the texture, a vinous core supporting dried plum and black cherry scents, and a subtle earthiness that suggests squab as a pairing.
Bethel Heights 2011 Eola-Amity Hills Estate Flat Block Pinot Noir – 91
Lean and taut, this wine’s scents of rye and lavender rise out of a core of dark cherry fruit. It’s lean, in keeping with the vintage, and could use a little time in the cellar for its elements to coalesce.
WINE & SPIRITS MAGAZINE, OCTOBER 2014
Bethel Heights Vineyard 2012 Estate Chardonnay – 90The aroma on this wine brings to mind warm apples in the sun, the fragrance touched by oak and finely integrated on the palate. The salinity of its texture gives it energy, grip and precision, with enough detail to merit pairing with coq au vin blanc.
2012 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Casteel Eola-Amity Hills – 94This has a dark resolve. Its red plum and floral scents, its focus and depth all gain with a day of air. But its texture is the marvel here, firm and muscular, with an acidity that gives the wine an almost propulsive quality. Decant it for leg of lamb.
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, JON BONNÉ, OCTOBER 31, 2014
A dazzling dozen: The best of the 2012 Pinot Noirs, by Jon Bonné
2012 Bethel Heights Aeolian Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir ($42, 13.7%): Cousins Ben and Mimi Casteel are putting this stalwart property on an auspicious future track. Their Aeolian is a mix of vines about 15 to 20 years old in windier sections of their exposed Salem property, and it’s tightly wound in the way Oregon wines used to be. Even as it opens, it’s a sleek wine: bayberry and Bing cherry, more mineral and floral, not revealing an ounce of fat.
Is Oregon Pinot trying to copy California? A dilemma in a glass. (sub req)
“Oregon’s ripe 2012 vintage — either a crowd-pleaser or a bit of a snooze, depending on your view. The good news: Several classic properties — Willakenzie, Brick House, Bethel Heights, to name three — were in fine form, finessing what could have been a forgettable year. Their wines show a welcome constancy against the whims of style.” Read more (sub req)
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, JON BONNÉ, DECEMBER 5, 2014
2012 Bethel Heights Chardonnay – “One of Oregon’s best Chardonnay examples…”
2012 Bethel Heights Estate Eola-Amity Hills Chardonnay ($28, 13.5%): A property better known for its Pinot, but cousins Ben and Mimi Casteel have also put forward one of Oregon’s best Chardonnay examples, from plantings that include own-rooted Wente clones dating to 1977. Fermented in mostly old oak, it’s graceful and tangy, and shows a terrific breadth: lime peel, quince, casaba melon, wet stones, plus a classic juiciness.
WINE SPECTATOR, NOVEMBER 2014
2012 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Flat Block – 95
Glass smooth and polished, brimming with boysenberry, plum, rhubarb pie and exotic spice flavors, coming together into a taut, medium-weight and expressive finish, persisiting impressively. Drink now through 2022. -H.S.
2012 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir West Block – 94
Fleshy, open-textured and light on its feet, with pretty strawberry and tomato leaf flavors that widen into red plum and spice elements as the finish expands and lengthens. Drink now through 2022. -H.S.
2012 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Illahe Vineyard – 94
Firm and focused, in an expansive style, this light-footed version melds black currant, plum and delecate spice flavors into a mouthfilling package that floats long through the finish. Drink now through 2022. -H.S.
2012 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Southeast Block – 93
Fresh and vibrant, glowing with black plum, blackberry, cassis, and minerally spice flavors on a plush frame. Open, but not heavy, showing generous intensity on the long finish. Drink now through 2022. -H.S.
THE WINE SPECTATOR, FEBRUARY 2013
2010 Bethel Heights Vineyard Chardonnay Estate Grown – 90Fresh and lively, showing citrusy tamarind accents around a racy core of green pear fruit. Should benefit from a year or two in the cellar. Drink now through 2015.
2010 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Casteel Reserve – 94($60) Smooth, round and expressive, light-footed but bursting with currant, blackberry and ﬂoral ﬂavors, hinting at mint and wet stone as the ﬁnish lingers effortlessly against ﬁne-grained tannins. Drink now through 2020. – H.S.
2010 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir West Block – 92Dark and spicy, with a floral quality to the blackberry and cherry fruit, all flowing smoothly over an open-weave frame. Lingers with tantalizing deftness. Drink now through 2018.
WINE & SPIRITS MAGAZINE, APRIL 2013
Bethel Heights 2010 Eola-Amity Hills Casteel Reserve Pinot Noir – 94The wine marries place and vintage with effortless grace. Its generous dark cherry and plum scents flow into a seamless, to-the-rim fullness of flavor, grounded by a dark basalt minerality, which seems to give the wine energy and propulsion. The tension between fruit and structure, between grip and give, makes this wine the sort to age–or enjoy now with grilled salmon.
Bethel Heights 2010 Eola-Amity Hills Southeast Block Pinot Noir – 93From a site planted in 1979 with the Pommard clone on its own roots, this wine is structured, dense and full of potential energy. Its dark plum scents balance a note of tar, the savory and the sweet in a fine tension. The flavors are dark and earthy, marked by minerality that seems to command the palate without overwhelming it.
WINE ENTHUSIAST, OCTOBER 2013
2012 Bethel Heights Estate Grown Pinot Blanc – 92
“This estate-grown offering was a standout among several dozen tasted for this article. It’s loaded with bright fruit flavors of grapefruit and pear, and even in the ripe 2012 vintage, it maintains the trademark minerality and a detailed, focused finish.”
WINE & SPIRITS MAGAZINE, OCTOBER 2013
2011 Bethel Heights Estate Pinot Noir – 90
“Tarry and dense, this has a smoky scent adorning black plum fruits. It feels tense and firm, still needing some time to knit. Then serve with a smoked salmon steak.”
PORTLAND MONTHLY, OCTOBER 2013
2011 Bethel Heights Vineyard Casteel Pinot Noir – #1 Sure-Bet Splurge
Oregon’s 50 Best Wines
“Every year for a decade, the Casteel family has chosen a few barrels that best express the vintage to create their sought-after Casteel Reserve. The 2011 selection shows stunning balance with intense concentration, low alcohol, and vibrant acidity, teeming with notes of blackberries, black currant, and cherries.”
THE WINE ENTHUSIAST, SEPTEMBER 2013
2012 Bethel Heights Pinot Blanc Estate Grown – 92
Oregon’s Other Pinots “This estate-grown offering was a standout among several dozen tasted for this article. It’s loaded with bright fruit flavors of grapefruit and pear, and even in the ripe 2012 vintage, it maintains the trademark minerality and a detailed, focused finish.”
THE WINE ADVOCATE, OCTOBER 2013
2011 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Estate – 90
The Bethel Heights 2011 Pinot Noir Estate displays tart-edged dark plum and cherry with a glowingly cyanic enhancement from their pits. Infusions of fresh ginger, black tea, iris root and citrus oils are as vintage-typical as the wine’s brightness of fruit. Firm yet polished at mid-palate, this finishes with zesty invigoration and interactive complexity, benefiting from the levity and prominent acidity that are likewise vintage hallmarks. In short: a quintessential and delightful 2011 Willamette Pinot that offers fine value and ought to delight through at least 2018.
2011 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Willamette Valley – 90
From a combination of Vita Springs and estate fruit, Bethel Height’s basic, Willamette Valley appellation 2011 Pinot Noir projects vintage typically juicy, tart cherry and red currant that contrast yet compliment fascinatingly and deliciously a saliva-inducing undertone of marrow-rich veal stock. There is a striking and exhilarating buoyancy here borne at least in part of the mere 12.0% alcohol. A berry seed crunch lends invigoration to a mouthwateringly sustained finish, capping an excellent value that should drink beautifully through at least 2017, though quite possibly well beyond.
2011 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Carter Vineyard – 91
Sage, saliva-drawing charred meat, dark cherry, blackberry and chard are the prominent components that make Bethel Heights 2011 Pinot Noir Carter Vineyard pungently, piquantly, and mouthwateringly impressive, as well as surprisingly complete and complex considering it originates with a single Dijon clone (#115). Firm but polished in feel and palpably extract-rich, it finishes with almost startling grip. While not as elegant or vibrant as this year’s SoutheastBlock, we have here a dense ball of energy that should be worth following through at least 2022.
2011 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Illahe Vineyard – 91
Believing the quality of fruit from this vineyard in 2011 to be too good to just blend into their generic Pinot, the Casteels have bottled a dedicated 2011 Pinot Noir Illahe Vineyard. Deep ferrous and beef blood low-tones here could almost be mistaken for those of a Syrah, but the vivacity and levity as well as the exuberantly juicy brightness of tart dark plum and blackberry are all-Pinot, as is the sense of melting-away tannins, which as the Casteels point out is a special tribute to this vintage and how they handled it, since this site – like neighboring Freedom Hill – has an, in their view, well-earned reputation for tough tannins. Earthy, stony and otherwise “mineral” nuances abound. And speaking of Syrah-like traits, there is a bite of black pepper adding to the invigoration of this Pinot’s vibrant finish. It ought to merit following through at least 2020.
2011 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Southeast Block – 92
The Bethel Heights’ 2011 Pinot Noir Southeast Block – from one of several 1979 Pommard blocks on their estate – has an exposure that, in collaboration with relatively deep and water retentive soil – you might think would prove a handicap in largely rainy, ripeness-challenged 2011. Instead, the first things I notice here are the mouthwatering sense of salinity allied to deeply savory, marrow- and bone-rich meat stock. These mingle with juicy, crunchy seed and piquantly pit-inflected elderberry and sour cherry on a firm, unapologetically but finely tannic palate, leading to a finish of near vibratory grip and invigoration, to which black pepper and crushed stone add emphasis and intrigue. This unusually forceful yet somehow elegant expression of 2011 energy also illustrates this vintage’s paradoxical potential for metaphoric darkness allied to acid-driven brightness. It will, I strongly suspect, be worth following through 2022, and quite possibly beyond.
WINE SPECTATOR, NOVEMBER 2013
2011 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Justice Vineyard – 90
A lovely, open-textured style, offering black cherry and mineral flavors against soft tannins, lingering enticingly. Drink now through 2017. 143 cases made. –HS
THE NEW YORK TIMES, DECEMBER 19, 2013
“Why Oregon Will Fondly Remember 2011” – Eric Asimov
The wine panel recently tasted 20 bottles of 2011 pinot noir from Oregon…People like me who love pinot noirs of finesse and restraint will adore the 2011 vintage. The best wines are clear, focused and vivacious.
2011 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Casteel – #6 in the Top Ten
Fragrant, subtle and graceful, with stony, spicy berry flavors.
THE WINE SPECTATOR, FEBRUARY 2012
2009 Bethel Heights Vineyard Chardonnay Estate Grown – 90
($25) Tangy and appealing for its tightly knit tangerine, pear and spice flavors, finishing with zip. Drink now through 2013.
2009 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Casteel Reserve – 93
($60) Firm in texture up front, with a mineral cast to the dark berry, cherry, licorice and spice flavors, finishing with generosity as the finish soft-shoes smoothly offstage. Drink now through 2019. 450 cases made. –HS
2009 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Estate Grown – 92
($32) Light in texture and weight, but shows real presence with its strawberry and cherry fruit, with cinnamon and talcum overtones. Finishes with refinement and grace. Drink now through 2019.
2009 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Flat Block – 93
($50) Polished, with a strong mineral note weaving through the rich blackberry and cherry fruit, melding smoothly as the finish extends. This has a distinctive profile, coming together with finesse. Drink now through 2019. 200 cases made. –HS
2009 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Justice Vineyard – 93
($50) Satiny, elegant and refined, this is expressive with its plum and currant fruit, hinting at floral and talc on the lively finish. The tannins are tight, but the lovely fruit comes through easily. Best from 2012 through 2019. 190 cases made. –HS
2009 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir West Block – 92
($50) Broad, juicy, and dripping with mineral notes that weave through the rich cherry and spice flavors, all coming together seamlessly on the refined finish. Has power and grace. Drink now through 2019.
2009 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Libertine – 92
($75) Ripe, focused, steely and expressive, offering a juicy mouthful of cherry, licorice, wet earth and mineral flavors that zing through the finish. This has stature and charm. Drink now through 2019. Tasted twice, with consistent notes. 100 cases made. –HS
2009 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Willamette Valley – 90
($28) Polished, light and immensely appealing for its pretty raspberry, cream and floral aromas and flavors, lingering easily on the sleek finish. Drink now through 2015.
INTERNATIONAL WINE CELLAR, JOSH RAYNOLDS, JULY 2012
2009 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Estate Grown Eola-Amity Hills – 90
($32) Dark red. Dark berries, sassafras and anise on the fragrant nose. Plush, expansive black raspberry and cherry flavors pick up spiciness with air and show very good energy. The sweet, enetrating finish clings with spicy intensity.
2009 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Southeast Block Eola-Amity Hills – 91
($50) Bright ruby-red. Cherry and redcurrant on the fragrant, spice-accented nose and in the mouth. Lively and precise, displaying very good depth and sneaky power. Aeration brings out an exotic floral nuance that carries through the long, sappy, gently tannic finish.
2009 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir West Block Eola Amity Hills – 91
($50) Vivid ruby-red. Sexy, highly perfumed bouquet of dark berries and cherry- cola, with smoke and floral nuances building with air. Plush and broad, offering powerful dark fruit flavors that show both heft and vivacity. Closes on a spicy note, with very good clarity and gently gripping tannins.
2009 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Flat Block Eola-Amity Hills – 92
($58) Vivid ruby. High-pitched aromas of black raspberry, Asian spices and rose, with a touch of blood orange emerging with air. Bright and nervy on entry, then deeper in the mid-palate, offering intense dark berry flavors lifted by zesty acidity. Finishes on a sweet floral pastille note, with impressive clarity and cut.
2009 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Carter Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills – 92
($50) Bright ruby-red. Complex, highly perfumed aromas of red and dark berry preserves, incense and potpourri, complemented by a smoky overtone. Sappy black raspberry and cherry flavors show very good depth and pick up spice and floral nuances. Shows impressive energy on the long, silky, subtly sweet finish.
2009 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Justice Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills – 92
($50) Bright ruby-red. Complex, heady bouquet displays candied red fruits, potpourri and incense, plus a spicy topnote. Fresh raspberry and mulberry flavors show impressive depth and vivacity, with a tangy spine of acidity adding bite. Finishes sweet and long, with resonating spiciness and lingering florality.
2009 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Casteel Reserve Eola Amity Hills – 92
($60) Ruby-red. Spicy, fragrant aromas of dark berries, cherry pit and anise, with a suave floral quality in the background. Sappy, chewy and sweet, offering deeply pitched dark fruit flavors firmed by juicy acidity. Dusty tannins add shape and grip to the long dark fruit-dominated finish.
2009 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Libertine Eola-Amity Hills – 93
($75) (half of the fruit is from the estate vineyards and the rest from the Zena Crown vineyard): Bright ruby. Sexy, oak-spiced aromas of raspberry, cherry and tea rose. Supple and broad on entry, then tighter in the middle, offering intense, impressively deep bitter cherry and red fruit liqueur flavors. Displays very good vivacity and clarity on the long, red fruit-dominated finish.
THE WINE ADVOCATE, OCTOBER 2012
2010 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Casteel Reserve – 92 Combining fruit from several sweet spots on their property (and reflecting two Dijon clones and a bit of Wadenswil), the Bethel Heights 2010 Pinot Noir Casteel Reserve displays a delightfully juicy and flower-bedecked amalgam of red and black currant, elderberry and cherry, as well as a polished feel and saliva-inducing undertone of nut oils and salted, fatty roasting pan scrapings that send my salivary glands into palpitations. And there’s a real ping of energy in this wine’s dynamic and sustained finish. This ought to be worth following for a decade. 2010 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Flat Block – 91 Bethel Heights’ 2010 Pinot Noir Flat Block – from Pommard Selection vines planted in 1979 – evinces sour cherry with fresh ginger as well as orange and lemon zest. Infectiously juicy and bright; polished in texture but pointed; it delivers a vibrant finish, its fruit capped with crushed stone and mouthwatering salinity. 2010 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Southeast Block – 91 Bethel Heights’ 2010 Pinot Noir Southeast Block reflects a deeper soil than that of other blocks of Bethel Heights. A maritime mingling of salt and alkali along with black tea smokiness and bittersweet floral perfume inflect dried cranberry, dried cherry and red licorice in the multifaceted nose and interactively complex palate performance of a Pinot that should remain more than merely viable over the next 8-10 years. 2010 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir West Block – 91 The Bethel Heights 2010 Pinot Noir West Block from their estate – showcasing a 1977 Wadenswil planting – is alluringly scented with iris and violet as well as dark cherry and blackberry that then inform a silken-textured palate. The tart edge one expects from this vintage and sub-region – not to mention from the present collection – is here in spades, despite the extra textural allure; and a saliva-stimulating combination of salt and iodine brings this to a rousing conclusion that practically compels the next sip. As with the corresponding Justice bottling, I’d love to think that over the coming decade this would become yet more complex and perhaps take on just a bit more fat, but who can know? 2010 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Justice Vineyard – 91 From a vineyard just below their original estate, but farmed by them, the Bethel Heights 2010 Pinot Noir Justice Vineyard boasts abundant ripe but tart-edged blackberry suffused with saliva-liberating salinity as well as black tea and bay laurel. With fine-grained tannins and a superb sense of sheer cling as well as vibrant “ping,” this is surely a quintessential, lean and energetic exemplar of its vintage and appellation that ought to perform well for the better part of a decade, during which it will hopefully pick up yet further complexity and perhaps a bit more flesh.
INTERNATIONAL WINE CELLAR, JOSH RAYNOLDS, JULY-AUGUST 2011
2008 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Casteel Reserve Eola-Amity Hills – 93
($60) Complex, spice-accented bouquet displays raspberry preserves, cherry-cola, potpourri and smoky minerals. Energetic and precise on the palate, offering juicy red and dark berry flavors that show impressive depth and energy. Gains weight with air, picking up a mocha note and finishing with impressive power and focus. I’d stash this away for at least five more years.
2008 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Estate Grown Eola-Amity Hills – 90
($30) Pungent, floral-accented aromas of cherry-cola and dark berries, with a sexy note of Indian spices emerging with air. Fleshy and smooth, with sappy dark berry flavors and notes of allspice and black cardamom. This very suave pinot finishes with strong thrust and sweet persistence.
2009 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Willamette Valley – 88
($28) Strawberry and spices on the nose, along with a subtle floral quality and a touch of black tea. Fresh, focused red fruit flavors show good intensity, no excess weight and a tangy spine of acidity. With its good finishing cut and tangy persistence, this is very easy to drink.
2008 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Flat Block Eola-Amity Hills – 92
($50) Bright, assertive aromas of strawberry and raspberry, with complicating Asian spice and floral accents. Juicy, precise and alluringly sweet, offering lively red berry and cherry flavors and an exotic spicecake quality. Suave, silky and precise, finishing with excellent clarity and persistence.
2008 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Southeast Block Eola-Amity Hills – 92
($50) High-pitched aromas of raspberry, cherry, Asian spice and fresh flowers, with a touch of white pepper. Lively and precise on the palate, offering sappy red berry and floral pastille flavors underscored by tangy minerality and a note of blood orange. Impressively pure and focused, but there’s depth here too. Finishes on a bright, spicy note, with lingering florality. I really like this wine’s balance and precision.
2008 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Carter Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills – 91 (+?)
($50) Aromas of blackberry, cherry-vanilla, sassafras and potpourri, with slow-building spiciness and a hint of musky underbrush. Pliant and deep in dark fruit flavors, with a firm mineral spine and late tannins adding structure. Powerful but very well-balanced pinot noir, finishing with excellent clarity and spicy persistence. I’d age this for another five years or so and then serve it with grilled red meats.
2008 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Justice Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills – 92 (+?)
($50) Pungent aromas of blackberry, cola, violet and black tea, with a brighter mineral quality emerging with aeration. Juicy, palate-staining dark berry flavors possess very good depth and show a gentle sweetness. Floral pastille and spicecake nuances come up on the back half and carry through a long, sappy, focused finish. The most serious of this year’s set of pinots right now; give it plenty of air if you want to drink it any time soon.
2008 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir West Block Eola-Amity Hills – 92
($50) Black raspberry, incense, dried rose and allspice on the nose, with a sneaky note of cola gaining strength with air. Sappy and concentrated, with sweet red and dark berry flavors and a hint of bitter cherry. Leads with its fruit today and finishes with impressive energy and lingering spiciness. Give this some air if you are compelled to drink one now.
THE WINE SPECTATOR INSIDER, AUGUST 2011
2009 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Estate Grown – 92
($32) Light in texture and weight, but shows real presence with its strawberry and cherry fruit, with cinnamon and talcum overtones. Finishes with refinement and grace. Drink now through 2019.
PORTLAND MONTHLY, SEPTEMBER 2011
2008 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Justice Vineyard – 89
($50) The Justice Vineyard is an Oregon Certified Sustainable wine, ensuring responsible growing and winemaking practices. This 2008 vintage’s cherry fruit, soft tannins, and fresh acidity balance out floral notes and deeper aromatics of leather and earth. Juicy and bright, this is a pretty glass for easy sipping.
2008 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Casteel Reserve – 88
($60) Fully destemming the grapes before fermentation (stems mean strong tannins) lent great fruit concentration to the finished product of this ripe, lush Pinot noir. A mild, bright, and easy-drinking wine, this will be delicious with hearty fall dishes like root vegetable stews and braised lamb.
2009 Bethel Heights Vineyard Chardonnay Estate Grown – 94
($25) Using a blend of Dijon and old-vine Wente clones, this classic Chardonnay shows a welcome balance of richness and bright acidity. The best of the old-school Oregon style, this rich, golden wine marries minerality and flavors of ripe pineapple and lemon zest, resulting in a smooth palate that’s full-bodied and perfumed but never cloying.
WINE & SPIRITS MAGAZINE, OCTOBER 2011
2009 Bethel Heights Estate Chardonnay – 94 (Best Buy)
Clean, mineral and savory, this pleasingly green-tinged white has just a hint of celery leaf that lends complexity to a dark lees note. The flavors remain on the savory side, the tone bright, lean and pure, with both the richness and elegance to pair with a classic roast chicken á la Julia Child.
THE WINE ADVOCATE, OCTOBER 2011
2009 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Willamette Valley – 88
($28) Bethel Heights’ 2009 Pinot Noir Willamette Valley is medium ruby red in color with a nose of dried herbs, spice box, and black cherry. Sweetly-fruited, supple-textured, and nicely proportioned, this medium-long effort is meant for drinking over the next 6-7 years.
2009 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Carter Vineyard – 92
($50) The 2009 Pinot Noir Carter Vineyard is first class. Expressive spice notes, incense, rose petal, cherry, and cranberry aromas inform the nose of a layered, succulent, nicely proportioned Pinot that contains enough structure to evolve for another 1-2 years. It will deliver prime drinking from 2012 to 2021.
2009 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Casteel Reserve – 91
($60) The 2009 Pinot Noir Casteel Reserve displays a touch of herbs as well as a darker shade of fruit. Black cherry, black raspberry, and plum notes lead to a savory, plump, chunky effort that narrows slightly in the finish. It will be at its best from 2012 to 2019.
2009 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Flat Block – 91
($50) The 2009 Pinot Noir Flat Block reveals a delicate perfume of floral notes, red fruits, and spice box. This sets the stage for an elegant offering which surprises with its depth, concentration, and length. Drink this suave Pinot over the next 6-8 years.
2009 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Estate Grown – 89
($32) The 2009 Pinot Noir Estate displays a bit of heat along with notes of cinnamon, clove, cedar, black cherry, and black raspberry. In the glass it reveals denser fruit than the Willamette Valley cuvee, savory flavors, good balance, and a medium-long finish. It will deliver enjoyment through 2019.
2009 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Justice Vineyard – 91
($50) The 2009 Pinot Noir Justice Vineyard sports an enticing perfume of Asian spices, incense, rose petal, and red fruits. It conceals a bit of underlying structure that will allow it to evolve for 1-2 years and drink well through 2019+.
2009 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Libertine – 92
($75) The debut 2009 Pinot Noir Libertine is a 50-50 blend of estate fruit and nearby Zena Crown Vineyard. Exotic spices, red fruits, floral notes, and sandalwood inform the nose of a sweetly-fruited, layered, nicely proportioned wine that deftly combines power and elegance. Give it 1-2 years of additional bottle age and drink it through 2021.
2009 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Southeast Block – 90
($50) The 2009 Pinot Noir Southeast Block exhibits a similar personality to the Flat Block cuvee but with more structure and not quite as much length. It is likely to evolve for 1-2 years which could well add to the wine’s finish.
2009 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir West Block – 89+
($50) The 2009 Pinot Noir West Block gives up a hint of earthy minerality along with red fruit and spice notes. It is narrower than its siblings on the palate but with ample ripe fruit and good concentration; another year or two of cellaring could help to flesh it out.
INTERNATIONAL WINE CELLAR, STEPHEN TANZER, JULY 2010
2008 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Willamette Valley – 90($28) Bright ruby. Pungent, sexy scents of dried red fruits, star anise, allspice and rose. Lively and precise on entry, then gains flesh and breadth in the mid-palate, offering sweet raspberry and cherry compote flavors and showing no rough edges. The finish is juicy, seductively sweet and very long. A very impressive “basic” bottling that bodes well for the later-release single-site and reserve bottlings from this vintage.
2007 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Flat Block Eola-Amity Hills – 90($50) Full red. Fresh red fruits and potpourri on the nose, with hints of exotic spices and herbs. Silky and sweet, with finely etched red fruit and floral pastille flavors and no rough edges. Shows the graceful, balanced character of the best 07s, and finishes with very good clarity and lingering spiciness. This will age on its balance.
2007 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Justice Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills – 90($50) Bright red. Sexy, complex scents of fresh red berries, incense and musky herbs. Supple, open-knit red fruit flavors are nicely spherical and precise, with a late note of white pepper adding vibrancy. This juicy wine is drinking very well now but its balance bodes well for cellaring.
2007 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Casteel Reserve Eola Amity Hills – 90($60) Saturated ruby-red. Pungent, deeply pitched aromas of blackberry, cherry-cola, star anise and mocha, with a subtle floral quality that gains strength with air. Juicy, penetrating cherry and dark berry preserve flavors are framed by supple tannins that gain strength on the back half. At once rich and lively, with impressive finishing breadth, precision and spicy persistence. Shows very good depth for the vintage, as well as the briskness of the year, and should reward several years of bottle aging.
BUSINESS WEEK, NICK PASSMORE, SEPTEMBER 16, 2010
The Heights of Oregon Pinot Noir
“Bethel Heights Vineyard in the Willamette Valley has been producing Oregon pinot noir at its best for more than four decades.”
O THE OPRAH MAGAZINE, RACHEL MOUNT, OCTOBER 2010
Ladies in Red – and White. Nine of the ten top women vintners on the joys of family vineyards.
“Pat Dudley, advocate for certified wine and cofounder of Bethel Heights Vineyard, Salem, Oregon…”
WINE ADVOCATE, ROBERT PARKER, OCTOBER 31, 2010
“Bethel Heights’ most recent collection is uniformly outstanding.”
2008 Bethel Heights Willamette Valley Pinot Noir – 90The 2008 Pinot Noir Willamette Valley has a lovely bouquet, particularly for an entry-level wine. Aromas of cedar, spice box, rose petal, and an amalgam of red and black fruits leads to a medium-bodied, ripe, moderately structured wine with 1-2 years of aging potential. With ample spicy fruit, good volume, and a fruit-filled finish, it will provide considerable pleasure over the next 6-8 years.
2008 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Estate Grown – 91The 2008 Pinot Noir Estate Grown is a bit darker in color with an expansive, spicy bouquet, cherry, and black raspberry aromas leading to a wine with excellent concentration, layers of fruit, and enough ripe tannin to evolve for 2-3 years. This well-balanced, lengthy wine will be at its best from 2012 to 2020.
2008 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Casteel Reserve – 92The 2008 Pinot Noir Casteel Reserve is a blend of the winery’s best barrels. The process of selection must have been quite a task given the raw materials. The expressive bouquet of sandalwood, Asian spices, underbrush, rose petal, incense, and assorted black fruits leaps from the glass. On the palate it displays dense, succulent fruit, outstanding volume, precision, and balance. Give it 5-6 years in the cellar.
2008 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Estate Flat Block – 92The 2008 Pinot Noir Flat Block Estate is medium ruby red with more focus on the red fruit side of the spectrum. Asian spices, incense, tobacco, cherry, and raspberry aromas lead to an elegant, succulent, velvety-textured wine that contains enough density and richness to blossom for another 4-5 years.
2008 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir West Block – 92The 2008 Pinot Noir West Block sports a similar aromatic profile that jumps from the glass. Denser, richer, and more succulent, it is a beautifully rendered wine that combines elegance with power. Give it 3-4 years of additional bottle age and drink it from 2013 to 2023.
2008 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Carter Vineyard – 93The 2008 Pinot Noir Carter Vineyard offers darker fruits, loads of spice, and great volume. The flavors are savory, succulent, and already complex, but it is only going to get better for those able to delay gratification for a few years.
2008 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Justice Vineyard – 91The 2008 Pinot Noir Estate Justice Vineyard amps it up aromatically with an aromatic array of cherry blossom, Asian spices, incense, black cherry, and black raspberry. On the palate it displays richness, succulent black fruit flavors, nicely concealed tannins, and excellent volume. This lengthy effort offers a drinking window extending from 2013 to 2023.
2008 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Southeast Block – 91The 2008 Pinot Noir Southeast Block adds a touch of minerality to its aromatic display. It is only 13% alcohol but the amount of fruit crammed into this medium-bodied offering is striking. Savory, ripe, and balanced but only a shadow of what it will be in 4-5 years, it demands significant cellaring to display its full potential.
“Also presented, but no tasting note given. These represent excellent to outstanding value.”
- 2009 Bethel Heights Pinot Blanc Estate Grown – 89
- 2008 Bethel Heights Chardonnay Estate Grown – 90
- 2009 Bethel Heights Gewürztraminer – 90
- 2009 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Rosé Estate Grown – 90
THE WINE SPECTATOR INSIDER, OCTOBER 2009
2007 Pinot Noir Flat Block – 92
Light and silky, a gorgeous, delicate style that lets its red berry and plum fruit dance sinuously over the polished, racy frame. Drink now through 2015.
THE WINE ADVOCATE, OCTOBER 30, 2009
2007 Pinot Noir Flat Block -91
Has a splendid, sexy aromatic array of sandalwood, incense, earth and floral notes, and assorted red fruits. Layered on the palate, it has outstanding grip, savory fruit, and a lengthy, pure finish. It will drink well from 2011 to 2019.
2007 Pinot Noir Justice Vineyard – 91
Alluring nose of smoke, spice box, rose petals, cherry, and raspberry. Elegant on the palate, it exhibits a silky texture, excellent density, savory fruit, and a long, fruit-filled finish.
2007 Pinot Noir Southeast Block – 91+
Aromatic complexity including earth notes, cinnamon, cranberry, and raspberry. Firm on the palate, it will benefit from another 2-3 years in bottle to fully blossom.
2007 Pinot Noir Casteel Reserve – 92
My favorite of the collection, it is the most deeply colored as well as the most fragrant. Asian spices, incense, black cherry, and black raspberry aromas lead to a layered wine with tons of succulent fruit, 2-3 years of aging potential, and a long, pure finish. It will offer pleasure through 2022.
THE WINE SPECTATOR, DECEMBER 31, 2009
2008 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Blanc Eola-Amity Hills – 90
($16) Bright and jazzy, offering a lovely mouthful of peach-accented grapefruit and pear flavors, lingering exuberantly. Drink now. 626 cases made.
2008 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Justice Vineyard – 90
($50) Bright and lively, displaying an earthy note that runs through the fresh currant and plum fruit, remaining jazzy on the finish. Drink now through 2016. Tasted twice, with consistent notes. 194 cases made.
2008 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Flat Block – 92
($50) Lithe in structure, with dark berry and floral flavors that point through the fine tannins into the long, supple finish. This has power without weight, finishing with grace. Drink now through 2018. 202 cases made.
2008 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Willamette Valley – 90
($28) There’s some density to the cherry and red berry flavors in this jazzy red, which picks up spice and coffee notes as the finish lingers. Drink now through 2018. 1,433 cases made.
2008 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Casteel Reserve – 92
($60) This focused red shows a lively balance to the open-textured cherry, plum and cinnamon flavors, pointing into a juicy, expressive finish that’s wrapped in fine tannins. Best from 2012 through 2018. 619 cases made.
2008 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir Southeast Block – 91
Light on its feet, with hints of orange peel to the berry and mineral flavors, finishing with finesse. Best from 2012 through 2018. 220 cases made.
VINTRUST’S SOMM SELECTIONS, SPRING 2008
2004 Bethel Heights Vineyard Chardonnay Estate Grown – 94
- 15 Aroma: pear, green apple, lime
- 13 Flavor: ripe pear, lime, lemon, vanilla spice
- 14 Structure: lovely round texture, very bright acid
- 14 Length: long finish of pear skin, mineral
- 38 Balance: rich and refreshing
The [Chardonnay] wines using the Dijon clones in Oregon have complexity and vibrancy. They offer lush, rich, ripe fruit and spicy aromatics similar to California, but the mineral, earth and bright acidity gives these wines a uniqueness and sense of place that is so attractive in these days of mass produced, overblown, sweet and manipulated Chardonnay.
WINE & SPIRITS MAGAZINE, APRIL 2008
2006 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Estate Grown – 92
A wine that glows blue, offering aromas of wild berries and plums. Its flavors are dark and generous, a black cherry tartness that starts out lithe and silky and gathers intensity through a long, complex finish. A fresh and stylish wine for salmon.
INTERNATIONAL WINE CELLAR, STEPHEN TANZER, APRIL 2008
2005 Bethel Heights Estate Chardonnay – 90
Light gold color. Leesy pear, melon and peach aromas are complicated by smoky oak spices and anise. Rich and supple, offedring powerful orchard fruit flavors and suave spiciness. This complex wine gains weight on the finish but maintains energy and focus.
2006 Bethel Heights Estate Chardonnay – 90
Pale yellow. Energetic pear and pit fruit aromas are underscored by citrus zest and dusty minerals. Juicy and round, with a silky texture and ripe orange and nectarine flavors. Finishes with a refreshing bite of pear skin, a light touch and sneaky length.
2006 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir West Block – 91
Explosively perfumed nose offers an exotic array of red and dark berries, flowers and spices. Sweet raspberry and blueberry flavors coat the palate, with zesty minerality providing lift. A fleshy wine with good finishing cut, leaving behind a strong spicy quality, along with a note of blueberry.
2006 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Jessie James Vineyard – 90(+?)
Brilliant red. Intensely floral bouquet offers raspberry, anise, rose and magnolia. Tangy red fruits in the mouth, with building spice and floral pastille qualities adding intrigue. Wild stuff, taking on a deeper, darker fruit tone on the long, chewy finish. fruits at the top, minerals and serious earthiness at the core—bravo.
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, MAY 30, 2008
2006 Bethel Heights Pinot Gris – Best of tasting
“Our very best of tasting, a Pinot Gris from Bethel Heights Vineyard in Oregon, showed what this can be at its best: a wine of substance that truly tastes like nothing else. Fresh and vibrant, with great melon fruit, but with a sturdy backbone. Fresh tropical fruits at the top, minerals and serious earthiness at the core—bravo.”
THE WINE ADVOCATE, OCTOBER 30, 2008
2006 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Casteel Reserve – 93 Medium ruby-colored with an alluring perfume of wood smoke, damp earth, black cherry, and black raspberry. This is followed by a wine with excellent focus, density, and intense, savory dark fruits. It is well balanced, nicely structured, and has a long, fruit-filled close. Give it 2-3 years of additional bottle age and drink it from 2010 to 2018. 2006 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Flat Block – 93 Nose of red fruit compote, complex, round, sweet fruit, a silky texture, good richness, and a finish with no hard edges. Drink this hedonistic over the next six years. 2006 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir West Block – 92 Medium/dark ruby-colored, it reveals the best concentration of the Bethel Heights portfolio as well as superb depth and complex flavors. This lengthy effort should be at its best from 2011 to 2020. 2006 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Justice Vineyard – 90 Nose reveals cedar, mineral, cherry, and raspberry. Quite structured for the vintage, on the palate this medium- to full-bodied wine is firm and nicely balanced by ample black cherry and black raspberry fruit. It will evolve for 2-3 years and drink well from 2010 to 2018.
VESTRY WINES , CYNTHIA SEXTON, NOVEMBER 2008
2007 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills Cuvée
“This wine is a stunning example of what you can do when you have worked on and owned an estate property for 30+ years and have a passion for making the best possible wine that you can without having attach a huge price tag to go along with it.
The Eola—Amity Cuvée has aromas of smoky earth, cranberry, clove and very light hints of oak. On the palate right away you will notice the underlying thread of smoky earth and lightly toasted oak that does not dominate but sits in the background as it should. There is also plenty of Bing Cherry, clove and light white pepper, even rose petal floral accents on the palate. Throughout this wine there is subtlety and elegance and a certain refined style that is more often found in Burgundy than in domestic Pinot Noirs. This wine can also age for another 5 years or so.”
GOURMET, GERALD ASHER, NOVEMBER 2008
2006 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Casteel Reserve
“A deliciously engaging Pinot Noir from Oregon. It comes from the Willamette Valley s Eola—Amity Hills, a region recently defined as an official American viticultural area (AVA). There’s much to distinguish these wines from others produced in the valley, but the key to their appeal is the cool maritime air that reaches these hills, even in the summer. That, plus the qualities of Oregon’s 06 vintage, explains this wine’s particularly fresh charm and long, subtle flavor. The result has been described as having the depth of the Oregon 99’s with the openness of the 03’s.”
THE WINE SPECTATOR, DECEMBER 15, 2008
2006 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Casteel Reserve – 91
Light, silky and open-textured with vivid currant and blackberry flavors, shaded with spice and black olive notes, lingering nicely on the generous finish. Drink now through 2014.
2006 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Flat Block – 93
Lithe and open-textured, this is a wine of some delicacy, offering a lovely mouthful of cherry and spice, with hints of mint and rosemary wafting through the long, mocha-accented finish. Drink now through 2016.
2006 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Southeast Block – 92
A lovely, round, focused and generous style that never gets weighty. Shows gorgeous blackberry and raspberry notes, with delicately floral, creamy overtones, letting the flavors sail effortlessly against almost nonexistent tannins. Drink now through 2014.
2006 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir West Block – 92
Bright, with real presence to the cherry and raspberry fruit, shaded with hints of coffee and spice on a light, lean and racy frame, persisting impressively without weight. Drink now through 2014.
2006 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Justice Vineyard – 91
Smooth and polished, this is a vivid wine, with racy acidity and distinctive mineral-accented raspberry and strawberry flavors, hinting at watermelon as the finish lingers effortlessly. Best from 2009 through 2016.
2006 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Jessie James Vineyard – 91
Lively, focused and generous with its floral, greengage plum-scented raspberry flavors, showing it all on a lovely open texture, with appealing transparency on the finish. Drink now through 2014.
2006 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Seven Springs Vineyard – 91
Lithe, silky and refined, with some heft to the black cherry and grapefruit-scented blackberry flavors, lingering on the lively, expressive finish against fine tannins. Best from 2009 through 2014. fruits at the top, minerals and serious earthiness at the core — bravo.”
THE WINE SPECTATOR, SEPTEMBER 30, 2007
2005 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Flat Block Reserve – 91
Supple and graceful. Shows real presence, with creamy cherry and huckleberry flavors, finishing on a creamy note. Lingers artfully against refreshing acidity.
2005 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir West Block Reserve – 91
Smooth, velvety and graceful, artfully layering the cherry, plum, toast and spice flavors, which all linger effortlessly on the finish.
2005 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Southeast Block Reserve – 90
Smooth in texture, with vibrant acidity against wild strawberry and plum flavors. The fruit plays against the toast and fine tannins on the lengthy finish.
EROBERTPARKER.COM #173, JAY MILLER, OCTOBER 2007
2005 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Casteel Reserve – 92
My favorite of the Bethel Heights Pinots is the 2005 Pinot Noir Estate Casteel Reserve (named after the founder of the winery). It is a blend of the estate s old vines and is the most perfumed and complex aromatically. It has a broad band of fruit, brilliant raspberry, blueberry, and black cherry flavors, and superb integration of oak, tannin, and acidity leading to a 40+ second finish. It will reward 4-6 years of cellaring and drink well through 2027.
2005 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Seven Springs Vineyard – 90
The 2005 Pinot Noir Seven Springs Vineyard is similarly styled. Its fragrant raspberry and cherry-scented nose is more expressive and in the mouth the fruit is more concentrated with greater depth. It exhibits the same zesty style with lively acidity and enough tannin to support several years of cellaring.
2005 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Southeast Block Reserve – 91
The 2005 Pinot Noir Estate Southeast Block is from a portion of the vineyard planted in 1979 to the Pommard clone. It offers dark fruits and mouth-filling flavors albeit in the racy, high acid, structured style of the vintage. It will benefit from 4—6 years of cellaring.
2005 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir West Block Reserve – 91
The 2005 Pinot Noir Estate West Block comes from the oldest vines on the property (planted in 1977). Again, it strongly reflects the nature of the vintage, but is more mouth-filling, deeper, and more concentrated than its siblings. It has prominent acidity and plenty of tannin but is more fruit—driven than most 2005 Pinots. It needs 5—7 years to evolve and should drink nicely through 2027.