Bell Willamette Valley Pinot Noir (3)

Bell Wine Cellars Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 3-Pack
$69.99 $̶1̶1̶9̶.̶0̶0̶ 41% off List Price
2011 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
CT link above

Winery website

Hmmm…lots of Willamette Valley pinot up tonight :slight_smile:

Call from FedEx, they no longer bother to call for the large boxes, just the little ones; three smaller boxes in, come get 'em.
Humm, three!?
Two were Stillman swill, and the third had a replacement bottle I was expecting, but also held something else…
2011 Bell Wine Cellars Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley OR

This sounded somewhat familiar, ah, yes, Alex Spanos, owner of the San Diego Chargers is involved with this winery. Now we just had the Big Guy a few days ago, despite being from S.D. I still don’t give a patootie about the Chargers, but a free bottle is just that, and I’ll pull a cork given the opportunity. Chilled down a bit and out comes a nice slightly waxy cork, but check out those tartrate crystals! And this is just a 2011. This was only bottled seven months ago. Do they really form that quickly? Guess so.

Nice and clear light garnet, with a few crystals that had fallen down and easily removed, and medium slow forming legs on the pour.

I ended up chilling this a bit much I think, low 50’s, and it came out a bit muted; cherry, cranberries and pomegranate; but none of the earth, forest or mineral notes I had expected.
Entry was tart, tart, tart; entire mouth tingling tart, clear to the finish; didn’t expect that, even given the 0.65 gm/100ml TA.

Going to let this warm and hopefully open up a bit, and coming back a couple hours later with it now in the higher 60’s it had changed substantially.
The fruit was still dominant, barely, now there clearly was the addition oak/tannin.
Way more on the palate as well, the tannins were now dominating the fruit; too warm, at least for my tastes.
A brief chilling back to the low 60’s tamed the tannins, but they were still firmly in the picture, and a bit too forward for what really seems a pretty simple bottle. I’m missing the complexity of earth, forest and mushroom I so enjoy in a PN, just not here at all.
Not sure if I’ve ever had a PN that was such a chameleon with temperature.

SWMBO said only “vinegar”, guess she doesn’t like tart PN’s, cause there’s gobs of acid, but I don’t think any vinegar here.
She’s doing much better with some reds, but still prefers her off-dry whites.

This is definitely a food only wine at this point. Showed better for me with seared Salmon and Rosemary, steamed broccoli with cheese, and a mixed spinach/strawberry/pine nut/goat cheese salad with Concannon aged balsamic.

Going to have to revisit this tomorrow, in the hopes it comes together a bit better than what I’ve seen so far today…

I’m just assuming you checked out WTSO as well?

I happened to find a bottle of this in my cellar and after a looong day at work decided to pop and pour. To be fair I have not given this bottle much of a chance, no food and not much air time.

On the nose i’m not getting much maybe a hint of cherry and just a little Pinot funk. First sip and she is very sour with cherry and maybe some cranberries plenty of acidic bite and oak, pretty strong tannins.

The mid palate was hollow and the finish short with some bitter tannin. I will revisit tomorrow and try with some food and give it some air. Sorry but tonight it was just not my cup of tea YMMV

And you thought 2007 was bad, 2011 was disastrous. Here’s a hint: don’t buy 2011 Pinot from Oregon unless it’s from a top tier producer. Case closed.

2007 redeemed itself with the best producers in the valley making exceptional wine, despite the odds and hype. But everyone else just sold discounted crap. Don’t fall for it again with the 2011 wines.

A brief chilling back to the low 60’s tamed the tannins, but they were still firmly in the picture, and a bit too forward for what really seems a pretty simple bottle. I’m missing the complexity of earth, forest and mushroom I so enjoy in a PN, just not here at all.
Not sure if I’ve ever had a PN that was such a chameleon with temperature.

Who are the top tier producers? I don’t really know my Willamette Valley producers so if you can throw in a couple (or two dozens), that would be great!

At first, all I could see was the top of this picture and thought WOW! A picture of a chocolate chip cookie! This must be some interesting Pinot. Then I continued to scroll down…

Its not that I am looking for Pinot that is reminiscent of a chocolate chip cookie, but I am not as intrigued as when I first saw the top of the picture of the cork.

Doesn’t sound like the Box of Cookies I’m looking for. Pass.

J. Christopher is phenomenal. Even their low end juice drinks at 2-3x its value (and good luck finding it, the JJ line sells out within days of it being stocked anywhere locally). Their higher end lines are also excellent and, despite the heavier price, also drink well above what you spend at srp.

Sokol Blossor drinks right around to just above its price point, but that doesn’t make it any less spectacular, even in the worst years. SB ages really well as well. Don’t know if they’ll make another appearance here on woot, but I’d be down for it, possibly my favorite regional producer.

(There’s two, if you remind me in future I’ll be happy to hit the 24 mark :wink: )

Mentioned before, but just a note that tartrate crystals are very common in wines, generally white but red as well. Particularly ones that have not been overprocessed. So if anyone is put off by the mention of this in the notes above, don’t be

And North316 expanded that note explaining:
Just to further clarify, tartrate crystals develope in wines that are not cold-stabalized. They are completely harmless, but some people who don’t know much about them can think they are a bad thing and be very discouraged by the wine. When a wine is not cold-stabalized before bottling, when it is cooled to below certain temperatures after bottling, the crystals can form. Some wine makers choose to cold-stabalize wines (more often whites than reds), which entails cooling a wine very near to its freezing point prior to bottling to help prevent crystals from forming once the wine is bottled. Some winemakers skip this step since the crystals are completely harmless.

Sokol Blosser
Patricia Green
Four Graces
Domaine Droughin
St. Innocent
Amalie Robert
Big Table Farm

I’ve had incredible 2007 Pinot Noirs from these producers, defying convention.

Maresh is excellent, too but a little difficult to find.

You are absolutely correct. 2011 was a very late vintage in Oregon and the Pinot noir was harvested much later than normal. The long, cool growing season gave us higher acids than one would typically expect; even in cool climate Oregon. On the other side, we did get great fruit flavors - another benefit of cool climate viticulture. Generally our wines finish ML prior to Christmas; in 2011 the Pinot noir did not finish ML until Spring. Because of the high natural acidity in 2011 we actually reduced the acidity in the wine to balance out the mouthfeel. We do not cold stabilize any of our red wines as it requires filtration post stabilization and I do not like to filter our wines. In the case of our Pinot noir, because of the delicate style we are attempting to produce, the filtration would diminish the wine. In retrospect one could argue that in 2011 I should have cold stabilized the Pinot noir to reduce the tartrate formation as the wine begun to produce tartrates very early on post-bottling. However, I feel that people who drink Bell are knowledgeable wine drinkers who understand stabilization, tartrates, filtration, fining and all the other things wineries can, and will do to wines.
To the person above who chilled and warmed their Pinot noir, my wife and I often do the same thing with our Pinot noirs. Seems like a great varietal to do that with. However, with the 2011 and the high acidity, the chilling will actually increase the rate of tartrate precipitation and create the “cookie” appearance on the cork. Does not affect the flavor or quality of the wine - but as we all know, so much of our tasting judgment is based on the visual appearance of a wine.
If you are ever in the vicinity we do a sensory tasting at the winery where we will serve wine in black glasses. Guessing the varietal, or even red versus white, is never more fun, when the eyes are taking out of the equation!
Sorry for the long answer!

Thread hijack:

Don’t forget this Saturday in Santa Rosa, WineSmith BBQ - See the Gatherings forum for more info.

/hijack off

Thanks for the, really not all that lengthy, reply.

To be clear, I was not at all ‘put off’ by the tartrate formation, but rather more intrigued by their size and seemingly rapid formation. My chilling was done upright, so I would think unlikely that contributed to any additional formation.

Curious as to the initial acidity level from which you adjusted downward. Must de-acidification with calcium carbonate as opposed to ion exchange? Did you then upwardly adjust pH?

Initially the bottle was on the colder side of what I would consider optimal, so the bottle was left to breathe at room temperature for a few hours while a generous pour was left in a glass to warm and air while tasted periodically.

As I again cooled and allowed to warm, I was searching for a temperature where all components would come into a good balance. Planning to give this another good taste later today, and any suggestions you can offer gratefully accepted.

Thanks for joining us today.
Anthony, one last question.
This is a very young PN, based on your experience, where do you see this wine being in 5 years, or beyond?

Anyone within driving distance of Santa Rosa would be foolish not to at least attempt to attend. People pay big money to be herded through wineries in large groups with very little personal interaction with anyone of consequence, while here is a generous offer from a skilled and knowledgeable winemaker to come to his place for a free BBQ and wine tasting. Clark Smith is a very friendly guy who loves to share his passion about wine and is both interesting and entertaining while doing so. Take advantage of this opportunity if you can!

Sorry for the delay in responding - been distracted by guests and bottling costs!

Yes, we added potassium carbonate to shift the pH from around 3.50 up to 3.64 at bottling. A rather substantial shift that in retrospect probably should have been slightly cold stabilized to reduce the unstable tartrates. I don’t know what your experience has been with 2010’s, but I have found some of our 2010’s to show tartrates quicker than usual. Another high acid year that seems a little unstable. Almost makes me want to consider stabilizing and filtering my red wines!

We chill the wine for about 10 -20 minutes or so; just to take the room temperature off the wine. I was telling my wife earlier about some of the comments and we are probably going to open a bottle this evening and taste it from the “wooters eyes” and see what we think. Although very delicate, we have always enjoyed the freshness and fruit in the wine. Although one should never need an excuse to open a bottle of wine, this seems like a good reason to have a glass.

One thing I do know about my wines is that they do like to be opened for a while before drinking. Our Cabernet’s in many instances taste better the following day.

Again, my apologies for the tardy response.

won’t ship to Va?! never had that problem before :frowning: