TNs: Complete vertical of Belle Pente Murto Vineyard Pinot Noirs

This tasting occurred nearly months ago but I took very good notes. I just put the notes somewhere very secretive apparently because I only just stumbled upon them today. I had promised Richard Trimpi I would post notes on this tasting the day after I attended it but fate intervened.

Suffice it to say I thought it was an excellent tasting. Back in the day when Patty and I were at (our former place of employ) we got fruit from Murto Vineyard (then known as MWM Vineyard for some reason) from 1994-1998. For those of you that do not know Murto Vineyard is a Dundee Hill Vineyard on Worden Hill Rd. slightly north of vineyards such as Maresh, Prince Hill, Erath and the like. It was planted back in the early 80s if memory serves.

This is a vertical of all the wines Belle Pente has produced from Murto Vineyard.

2012: Very 2012 in nature. A distinct framboise note that recurs down the line provides a rippling, rolling sort of character to the nose. Young, vibrant, fresh, deep and delicious. Impossible not to like.

2011: Again, very much in keeping with the vintage. Supple Dundee Hill red fruits but undercut with a wiry layer of acid and tannin. This is good but like many 2011s this will benefit with a few years in bottle. Might come off as sharp for some folks at this stage.

2010: Incredible aromatics. This was in a very, very lovely space. Like many 2010s this is showing nicely and has a softness in the tannin structure that makes it very enjoyable in the here and now. While this no doubt will age nicely firing one or more of these open in the present would be far from a crime.

2009: This came in a little dilute. I think I remember Brian mentioning that he felt they had underestimated the crop load which was easy to do in 2009. While folks think of hot vintages as having the problems of overripe characters it is easy to actually get the other side of the coin with heavy crops and picking too early either by necessity or just picking too early. This was good but in the overall context of the tasting this was toward the bottom.

2008: Perfect 2008. Years from now this wine will be amazing. Angular and muscular now and not giving up all its fruity gifts at the moment. Less red fruited than other wines but still has the framboise-y note in the nose. Hands off for at least 3 years and probably won’t be at peak for another 5 to 7 I would venture.

2007: An homage to Bob Wood if there ever was one. The defining taste of this wine was a distinct red bell pepper liqueur note which I guess sounds sort of gross but man this wine was delicious and had concentration belying the vintage.

2006: Very rich as one would expect. Deep dark cherry flavors and aromatics. Slight leathery notes. Maybe the most tannic wine of the bunch. Interesting stuff. I liked this quite a bit and I drank an extra swig pretending it was the untouched wine in Richard Trimpi’s imaginary glass of this wine.

2005: Very high toned aromatics. This was a weird and interesting wine. Lots of secondary character and a fruit tea quality to it. Ripe but underripe at the same time. A wine of contrasts. Interesting. Might be better served as a wine on its own rather than in a line up like this where it is easy to point to its obvious differences.

2004: Red fruit (framboise again) and a lot of fresh gingerbread in the nose. Very 2004 richness to it that makes it heady and sort of thrillingly delicious if not in the same complexity zone as say the 2008 or 2012.

2003: Yeah, it is a 2003 but it is way better than one might expect. Certainly atypical with pumpernickel, charcoal and dark chocolate draped over super sappy sweet fruit. Almost fruit cocktail-ish in a way. Be great to have a glass of but you might want something different after that one even though you liked it a lot.

2002: Much more delicate than one would suppose although I guess we are talking about 10ish years in the bottle at this point. Distinct spicy pomegranate in the nose. Spicy, sexy, a little baked apple sort of thing going on underneath more regular Pinot flavors. Nuanced. Very nice. Sort of the opposite of the 2003. You probably didn’t necessarily get it with the first glass. You need another.

2001: My favorite wine of the bunch. By a lot and I liked these wines. This is beef stock, dashi broth, mushrooms and fresh mulch all over a core of roasted cherries. Fantastic complexity. Total umami thing going on. Utterly delicious and just in a great, great spot. This was a real treat.

2000: Very delicate and feminine which is probably the place good 2000s end up at. There was a little drying here and this wine is likely past its best point. Still good and still has forepalate sweetness of fruit but the finish was dropping. Again, on its own it probably tastes very nice. It was also in the flight with the 2012 and 2006 so it had a couple of big guns around it.

1999: I had recently had a 1999 DDO Laurene. This wine smelled almost exactly the same to me which, unfortunately, was not great. There is a Spanish peanut smell almost certainly born of stress on the vines of some sort. There is very good fruit underneath that and it almost has a mocha character to it but the aromatics are very distracting. Maybe others would find it better in a “who likes or does not like 2004 Red Burgundies” sort of way.

1998: This is a nice snapshot of 1998. Very muscular and sweet while still being savory. Quite a bit of tannin still for an older Oregon Pinot. There is a little bit of drying which brings the finish up short a bit. May have had a better showing a few years ago. Again, nit picking a bit but definitely noticeable while still being good.

1997: This is certainly one of the weaker vintages in the last 20 years in Oregon. No question about that. It was difficult. There is a little VA here (I am super-sensitive so that likely wouldn’t be everyone’s issue). Light and bright fruit. Still hanging in there. Has a prettiness to it that is endearing but certainly past its best days.

1996: Reminiscent of the 1999 in many ways, mostly aromatically. Again, sweet fruit underneath that is still pretty youthful (1996 is probably an under rated vintage here and there are likely few wines left to back that assertion up).

1995: Not made

1994: Smells older than the rest (which it is) but again, a nice sweetness of fruit that is surprising for a wine of this age and for a warmer vintage (and for a first and not even really commercial effort). Surprising palate heft still in there. Not a ton of complexity but certainly an admirable effort and doing well for 18 years and change in bottle.

I think this was a really terrific line up of wines that captured vintage characteristics nearly to a tee almost across the breadth of the vertical, showed the distinct nature of the Dundee Hills (red fruits, sweet fore and mid palates, spice and silky tannin structure) and illustrated the defining character of the site (framboise). Very fun line up and it was nice to be included to something I didn’t even know was happening basically until I showed up unannounced.

Oh my god. So jealous. I would kill to have attended this. I still remember the 2001 from when it was first released - it was incredible. 2008 was almost as great.

Wow. Thanks for posting, Jim. I went out and purchased a vew more bottles of the '07, following the ‘smackdown’ tasting a few years ago. Glad to have several other vintages sleeping in the cellar – unfortunately, no '01.

Terrific post. Belle Pente Murto is probably my favorite Oregon pinot, along with some of St. Innocent’s offerings.

very cool post! I’ve had a few from Murto and have always enjoyed.

Good to hear the 2001 is showing well. Bought a case from Brian on release, and the last bottle I had wasn’t showing very much. Maybe time to try another one.

About time! Great notes and a super tasting.

Glad you enjoyed my glass of '06. Who loves ya baby?


Jim- thanks for posting. It was a good reminder for me as well as I picked up a mixed case of 12 Murto and Estate from them. I think their 08’s in general( had the estate 2 weeks ago) are slowly emerging but have so much upside. I’m also picking up any of your 12’s where I can find them. Oregon seems like such a screaming qpr based on some of the Cali pricing I’ve seen lately.


Thanks for the notes!

One of my favorite domestic wines. Keeping my hands off the '08’s for as long as I can. And I agree with your assessment of the '10s. I’ve opened a few and enjoyed them immensely but no rush to open more

Jim - Well written notes which reflect subtle, vintage-driven differences between a nice line up of wines over many years.

We had the 12 this weekend. It was very good but as expected oh so young. It didn’t get a chance to open too much in the decanter as it went quickly but I have high hopes for it based on the initial peek. I’d say Jim’s note is still spot on. Glad to have a bunch and will try again in a year or 2.


Wow, what a tasting! Thanks for posting notes. I’ve only had a couple of recent vintages, but I’ve really, really liked what I’ve had of this bottling. The comparison of '10 and '11 is awesome, as you noted, because of the differences of vintage and similarity of site. Exactly what I’d want out of those two vintages from the same vineyard, and they’re both fantastic.

Great notes! Sounds like the bottles were stored well too, did Brian supply them?

the 2000 was the wine of the night at last year’s 15yr retrospective.

Also, if anyone wants to buy the 11s or 12s, they are available

e.g. Vinopolis Wine Shop - Working

What a tasting. I’m jealous as can be. My first experience with Belle Pente PN was early in my wine exploration. While dining at the Dundee Bistro with my parents, we asked the waiter for a recommendation. He pulled a (2006??) and we were all floored, as much as anything, by the amazing aromatics bursting from the glass. We had a second bottle. For me, the best aspect of Belle Pente PNs (especially the Murto, but the Estate does as well) is the aromatics. They’re always so intoxicatingly perfumed, in a way that few OR PN are.

Jim, these are fantastic notes. On something like the notes for the 2001, which appeared to strike a much more savory note than other vintages, how much of that can be attributed to the vintage vs in-bottle development?

A thread from the thread graveyard.

I would say the two are inextricably linked. I never, to my knowledge, tasted the 2001 young so I cannot provide any historical context to the wine. 2001s, in general, were aromatic, textured and rode a line between sweet fruit and secondary notes (depending on a variety of factors). I can only tell you what that wine tasted like to me at the time. Surely it had evolved in the bottle but from what I do not know.

Which is kind of amazing as the wines are delicious and offer great QPR. Already backed up the truck on the 11. Great vintage contrast between the 11 and 12.


It turns out we drank too many of the '11 Murtos, so had to backfill my stock a couple of weeks ago at the winery. Fortunately that is still possible.

The 2014 WV bottling is just ridiculously good for the $$ btw. So is the Gamay, which is really hitting its stride.

Yeah, Jim, in hindsight it was (quite) a bit silly for me to ask you to recall something from a tasting that far back, but thanks for the insight!!!