We left Cristom Vineyards and headed for Bethel Heights Vineyards. This winery had been recommended to us by a friend and fellow Thursday night wine taster. They are located fairly close to Christom. The drive through rural Oregon was beautiful. Everything is so green this time of year and many trees are in bloom. Once again, the Winery is located on a hillside with a beautiful view of the valley.
We tasted four white wines at Bethel Heights. Among the 2009 Reisling, 2008 Gewürztraminer, 2009 Pinot Gris and 2008 Chardonnay. The Gewürztraminer and the Pinot Gris were our favorites.
2008 Gewürztraminer – the nose smelled pleasantly of honey and aromatic wood. The flavors tasted of honey and green apple. There was a good amount of acid and a moderate finish. This is a good wine for the summer. We really liked this one.
2009 Pinot Gris – the nose was floral and citrus. The flavors were floral with good complexity, a light mouth feel and good acid. The complexity of flavors is what sold us on this Pinot Gris. So many times, Pinot Gris have little flavor. This was a pleasant exception to that and will be an excellent summer wine. Both of these white wines fit our criteria for under $20 summer wines we would drink.
While being well made, the Riesling and Chardonnay were not particularly note worthy. The Riesling was a little thin tasting and the Chardonnay was just unremarkable. The Chardonnay is aged 20% in new oak, 80% in neutral oak, is barrel fermented and undergoes malolactic fermentation.
Next, we tasted the Pinot Noir. All were well made and very nice Pinot Noir. Among the 2008 Pinot Noir Estate Grown, their widest distributed wine, 2007 Pinot Noir Southeast Block and the 2007 Pinot Noir Casteel Reserve, their high end distribution, our favorite was the Casteel Revserve. The color was light ruby and it had a more typical Pinot Noir nose with tart bright fruit, bramble flavors, moderate tannins and good acid. The finish was long with pleasant flavors and tannins.
Bethel Heights suffered a bit by following Cristom. Because we liked the Cristom Wines so much we may be more critical of Bethel Heights than they deserve. The flavors were more complex at Cristom and really set our expectations for the 2007 vintage wines.
As we tasted through the Bethel Heights wines, the tasting room filled up. Kate Crowe, the tasting room manager, was surprised at the crowd for a Friday afternoon. Among those we met were Joe and Maryanne Raia. Joe is a reporter and blogger in Corvallis. His blog, CorvallisTidBits, covers community topics as well as wine and other things of interest. We had an interesting conversation with them regarding Willamette Valley wines. We haven’t looked at his web site yet but we understand he has extensive posts on Oregons wineries.
After two pleasant tastings, we headed on down the road to Dundee. We went through Dayton, located the Joel Palmer House our dinner destination, and continued to the Inn at Red Hills in Dundee where we will be staying for the remainder of our time in Dundee.