VOLUME 10, ISSUE 10
May 11, 2015
Belle Vallée Cellars
Californian Joe Wright arrived in Oregon in the early 1990s and learned his winemaker skills under the guidance of Joe Dobbes at Willamette Valley Vineyards. In 2002, he met Oregon natives Mike Magee and Steve Allen and they immediately struck up a friendship leading to a shared partnership. Fueled by their passion for Pinot Noir, they started Belle Vallée (Beautiful Valley) in a former tire warehouse in downtown Corvallis. Within 5 months, Joe had converted the 22,000 sq ft space into a winery of his design. The beautiful barrel aging room is the centerpiece.
Belle Vallé has multi-year contracts with eighteen Oregon vineyards. Joe knows the vineyard owners and managers well from his years at Willamette Valley Vineyards and works closely with them. Joe is a blender rather than a single vineyard advocate. He believes blending several vineyards adds to the complexity, depth and character of the finished wine. In addition, sourcing several vineyards makes him less susceptible to the vagaries of the vintage. Every block from every vineyard is kept separate during the winemaking process, and then the barrels are painstakingly sampled and mixed to arrive at the final blend. The most magical barrels go into the Grand Cuvée bottling. The next level of quality is the Reserve and the remaining barrels are combined in the Willamette Valley blend. Joe is not bashful about his Pinot Noirs and they feature bright, copious fruit and notable oak influence. Joe also crafts an innovative Whole Cluster Pinot Noir for early drinking and a Pinot Noir Port that demands contemplation.
A distinctive feature of the Belle Vallée wines are the beautiful labels designed by co-owner Mike Magee’s wife Claire. Her artistic flair is reflected in the attractive designs meant to portray the characteristics of the wine within. A limited number of large format bottles are produced with a custom fused glass label.
Belle Vallée Cellars is located at 804 NW Buchanan Ave in Corvallis. This urban winery is open for tours and tasting by appointment (541-757-9463). the wines are fairly priced and may be purchased directly from the website. There is also retail distribution in Oregon. The way-cool Limited Edition Glass Label Series Magnums must be ordered in advance.
Articles About Belle Vallée Cellars
2007 Belle Valle Cellars Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.6% alc., $24. · Light ruby color. Prominent oak char and dark caramel on the nose. Oak and toastinfused black cherry fruit which is light and juicy. No tannins to speak of and adequate acidity. This wine will appeal to those who like oak with their Pinot. Reviewed March 26, 2009 ARTICLE »
2006 Belle Vallée Cellars Whole Cluster Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.3% alc., $17. 100% whole cluster in a Beaujolais style meant to be drunk young. · A typical Beaujolais nose with confected cherries and tropical banana scents. Light and tutti-fruiti, this is a fun and casual wine best drank with a little chill. Reviewed January 30, 2008 ARTICLE »
2006 Belle Vallée Cellars Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $24. · A lighter styled Pinot Noir with a nice mix of fruit and oak. A smoky influence runs through. Very soft tannins and easy to drink. Reviewed January 30, 2008 ARTICLE »
2006 Belle Vallée Cellars Reserve Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., $38, 11 months in 45% new French oak. Low yields from two vineyards, 50% Pommard, 50% clones 113, 115. · Plush red and black fruits are set off by a hint of oak char. Syrupy in texture, richly layered and possessing a healthy tannic backbone. A hearty wine that would welcome hearty foods. Reviewed January 30, 2008 ARTICLE »
2006 Belle Vallée Cellars Grand Cuvée Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 382 cases, $55. Aged for 11 months in 75% new French oak. 87½ % Pommard, 12½ % clone 115. Alpine Springs Vineyard and Vitae Springs Vineyard. · Shy nose with subtle perfume of cherries, plums and spearmint. Similar to the Reserve bottling in tone and structure but with less tannin, less smoke and more prized cherry fruit. More finesse with power here. Made for the long haul. Reviewed January 30, 2008 ARTICLE »
2005 Belle Vallée Whole Cluster Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
12.5% alc., 3,950 cases, $14, screw cap. Made in the Beaujolais style. Whole clusters are put into closed top stainless steel vats and left alone to allow carbonic maceration to proceed. The juice that forms at the bottom is drained off periodically. There are no punch downs. Fermentation proceeds rapidly but is not allowed to go too long to avoid too much extraction from the stems. The wine is pressed to tank, bottled and released two months after harvest. The idea is to taste the grapes as they come from the vineyard. · The wine smells just like grape must during fermentation. The flavors are fresh and spicy and pure Pinot. Simple and not a wine to ponder, but a low alcohol treat to drink without pretension. Fantastic with coq au vin because of its fruitiness. Reviewed August 14, 2006
2004 Belle Vallée Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 2,923 cases, $20. A complex blend of six Willamette Valley vineyards. Clones include Dijon 115 and 777, Coury, Pommard and field blend. · A medium-bodied wine with very dark violet color. As it opens, charming aromas of Bing cherries, sandalwood and roses appear. Cherry flavors are set off by mocha and toasty oak. The dry finish has pert acidity. Ready to drink now. The wine builds in intensity and character over time in the glass. Reviewed August 14, 2006
2004 Belle Vallé Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 3800 cases, $23. · A solid wine for the price from this Corvallis producer. A fruit-forward, plush Pinot with plenty of cherry and rhubarb, mushrooms, and sweet oak that is wrapped around supple tannins. Reviewed February 12, 2007 ARTICLE »
2004 Belle Vallée Reserve Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 887 cases, $30. A blend of four prized vineyards and two clones (62% Pommard, 38% Dijon 115). · The big wine needs at least 45 minutes to reveal its charms. The aromatics are similar to the Willamette Valley blend with more intensity. There is more body, structure and oak here too. The mouth feel is fuller, the fruit is more lush, and the finish lingers on and on. Reviewed August 14, 2006
2004 Belle Vallée Grand Cuvée Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 310 cases, $48, wax capsule. From the best vineyards and best barrels in the cellar. 62% Dijon 115 and 38% Pommard clones. · A voluptuous Pinot Noir with copious amounts of fruit and oak. Fat on the palate but plenty of acidity to keep everything in harmony. Still very tight and needs some lengthy cellar time to come together. This wine is for lovers of the flashy Caliesque style of Pinot Noir Reviewed August 14, 2006
2003 Belle Vallé Pinot Noir Port
18.0% alc., 330 cases, $38. The Pinot Noir is picked very ripe and fortified with Willamette Valley Pinot Noir brandy that has been barrel-aged for three years. A labor-intensive wine requiring a lot of skill. Pinot Noir shows well in this style of spirit with its fruity character complementing the brandy. · A sipping wine to ponder. It is a bit nutty, with some caramel, nutmeg, raisin and chocolate-covered cherry flavors. A treat that is very distinctive. Reviewed August 14, 2006
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