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Executive editor Thomas Matthews joined Wine Spectator in 1988. His tasting beat is Spain.
Thomas Matthews

A Taste of Oregon’s 2008

Belle Pente Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2008

Thomas Matthews
Posted: October 6, 2010

My colleague Harvey Steiman, our lead taster for the wines of Oregon, says that the 2008 vintage may be the best ever for the state’s Pinot Noirs. So when I saw a selection of them on a restaurant wine list, I jumped at the chance to try one.

We were at Buttermilk Channel in Carroll Gardens, named for the tidal strait that separates Brooklyn from Governor’s Island. It’s a casual space with exposed brick and a long, lively bar, serving ample portions of locavore comfort food. Their signature dish of fried chicken over Cheddar waffles with balsamic-infused maple syrup ($18) is an explosion of flavor—breakfast and dinner on the same plate.

The wine list is short but diverse and reasonably priced. Belle Pente's Pinot Noir ($52) suits the restaurant’s character: It’s made from estate-grown fruit from organic and biodynamic vineyards in the Yamhill-Carlton District; owners Jill and Brian O’Donnell are Silicon Valley refugees and home brewers who decided on the country life. The 2008 was round and quite plush, with ripe black cherry and chocolate flavors balanced with a mineral undertone. I rated it 91 points, non-blind, though iced tea might have made a better match with the chicken and waffles.

WineSpectator.com members: Get our quick list of Top Values among Oregon Pinot Noir.

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