Why the Beaux Freres hate?

Soon after I joined this board I realized that there is quite a bit of “group think” going on here, with a fairly consistent opinion of who makes “good” Oregon pinots, and who makes…we’ll just say “less than good” Oregon pinots. The “good” seem to universally be agreed to as Cameron, Evesham Wood, and Belle Pente to name a few, while the “less than good” seem to vary, but generally appear to include those who make bigger, California-esque pinots- Domaine Serene, Archery Summit, etc.

Let me just say that I share the above sentiments. I have generally really enjoyed those “good” pinots, and have found less enjoyment in the “less than good.” That being said however, I have always been a bit confused as to the generally low opinion of Beaux Freres offerings on this board. To my mind and palate their wines have rarely ventured into overtly big expressions of pinot noir, and seem to focus much more on liveliness, balance, and beauty. Not to mention that there is very little ego displayed in their marketing or tasting facilities (y experience was in their garage with dogs running around, and the pourer dressed in overalls and rainboots). All of these are characteristics that the vocal Oregon pinot lovers on this board seem to triumph.

After thinking about this a bit last night I came up with a few possibilities for the lack of favor their bottlings offer, and I was wondering what others here thought. First, the obvious point of resistance may lie in their pricing, which is obviously on the higher end of the spectrum. Other than a few other top bottlings, BF’s two flagship wines (Upper Terrace and BF Vineyard) are priced at >$70, an admittedly steep price tag. But if we agree that every wine region is going to have its “cadillacs,” and that there is indeed a market for high-priced wines, I don’t necessarily see why this would cause such resistance to the wines themselves. More a “too expensive for me, but good wines nonetheless.”

Second is their obvious affiliation with Robert Parker, a man many here feel resistance to (myself included). I suppose I can see how this would color peoples opinions, but would love to hear others takes on this.

Third is the simple fact that many here do simply find their wines to be lacking. If this is the case then case closed, but again, would be interested in others opinions.

So I’ll step back here and ask again, why do you suppose there is so much Beaux Freres hate on this board?

First, I like BF wines. I think there is some resentment as to pricing. They are one of the more aggressive wineries in terms of pricing. Also, style. I think some find their style too “Parerkerized” which is convenient in that Parker is a part owner. It makes for a nice package to bundle up and not like. As I said, I like the wines. Like most Oregon Pinots, especially the bigger ones, I think they need plenty of time to develop.

Chris - I just did a search of “Beaux Freres” and have to say your premise looks entirely unfounded.

I love accusations of group think. There is group think for full throttle New World wines. There is group think for anti-flavor wine elite wines. I think when we run up against discussions we disagree with we tend to remember those. We also tend to think we are the embattled few fighting against the many. I see lots of disagreement here about Oregon rather than group think. There is some consensus on several wineries that many here think are making what they believe to be true Oregon styled wines.

Among those folks there has long be some disapproval of Beaux Freres long before this board existed. Its a style thing. You have clearly come to love those wines but I think if you were to try them blind in a wide ranging line up you would find them of the bigger style that many would say does not typify what they want from Pinot in Oregon. The few tastes I have had of their wines leads me to that conclusion. That combined with their aggressive pricing makes them look more like a Napa start up than an ego-less farmer and his shack operation.

Loren - I am curious about your use of the word “resentment.” Why would anyone “resent” the price of a commodity? One might feel the price does not align with its perceived value, but “resent?”
I’m curious to hear more about what you are thinking.



They are pricey TBH. I have found the 99,98,and 93 to be amazing wines. Youthful, balanced, and deep. I have no idea what these taste like young as the youngest I’ve had are the 02’s(with 7 years on them). With the way the wines age I would say they justify the price but it certainly would be cool if they were a little cheaper. Given the cost I think they have branded themselves into a certain should I say yuppified tier which goes against much of what Oregon wants to be about. I recently followed a stash of the 94’s on WB after hearing some really positive things about them- I believe they ended up going for over 140.00 per copy… Someone out there likes em… [snort.gif]

Even setting aside the issue of the group think pro and con about certain wines and categories of wine on this board, I think there is just a strong tendency on this board to organize wines on a linear scale. With domestic pinot, it’s high alcohol to low alcohol. With Italian wines, it’s modern to traditional.

I think that tendency is especially strong with Oregon pinot, because many people appear to champion it expressly because they have, and want to express, a strong opinion about lower alcohol pinot styles. Which is totally fine as far as I’m concerned, it’s just an observation. That tendency can be self-reinforced, as tasters sometimes tend to look for and to find the things they expected in advance to find (e.g. heat on the pinots or zins considered higher alcohol), or they can create somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy because of how and when they drink the wines (e.g. drink your Sea Smoke young and as a cocktail because you believe it won’t age well or go with food, age your Copain and have it with salmon).

As to this winery specifically, I’ve only had Beaux Freres a few times (including some mature vintages), and I was rather “whelmed,” neither admiring it or disliking it, but not because I recall thinking it was too much of one style or the other. I just never had one that made any particular statement to me, particularly relative to the price. But I don’t know what has generally been the reason the wine isn’t more admired by others – I’m sure the Parker association doesn’t help, though.

At least BF do not send me a “told you so” postcard touting the gold awards that we’ve won nausea, not to mention kicking DRC pants in some sort of contest judged by Jesus and his brother.

Personally still love the 94 and would buy (but not at 140)

Chris, the pricing sucks based on my own negative/neutral experiences ('93 and '99 from oversized bottles within the past year), which outnumber the positives. There’ve been a few aged examples (including a '93, '94 and '97) I’ve enjoyed and a couple quite a lot. The overall style typically doesn’t appeal to me. Those who consider it a “cadillac” are welcome to it. The family and investment relationship to Parker is secondary, although one might find a bit of Parkerization. For me, it’s simply easier to enjoy the pricing/products at other locations, i.e. neighboring Patricia Green, not to mention your “good” list.


I, as have been demonstrated on many occasions, like the wines you specifically have listed on you “bad” wines list. I personally believe they make great wines. [cheers.gif] I regularly buy BF and allow to age. I just recently had a wonderful 02 BF vineyard with dinner. Terrific wine.

I do not play into “typical” Oregon game. Willamette Valley producers make a wide variety of different style wines. The different AVAs within the Valley turn out hugely different flavor patterns from other closely located AVAs. So to me, if one talks about a typical OR wine, it’s as nonsensical as talking about a typcial CA wine. People have their preferences on the style of wine they like. Not liking a style of wine does not make it a good or bad wine to me, just a different style. Others, of course, don’t share that graciousness. The only good wine to them is wine in the style and price they like, all else is bad. Rather silly I believe.

BF’s prices are high and in some years, some of their wines do not have a good QPR. That is a QPR issue, not a good wine vs bad wine issue, imo. Is DRC a bad wine because I can’t afford it. To me the answer is no, it’s a great wine, I just can’t afford it. To others the answer is yes. Each to his own. [cheers.gif]

Long time BF drinker here. Long answer that will gradually build to a semblance of relevance.

While they price at the high end, I don’t think they can take too much of a knock. IIRC the 1998 was $75/bottle in futures (though that was possibly the price at release, not futures). The 2009, which I will receive next week (!), was $75. Upper terrace is $85. WV (formerly Belles Soeurs) is, what, $40-something?

They were about the highest price around 96-97, and then you had the three $100 releases in 1998 (TMQH, CS, ASE) - but BF didn’t raise their price. Then other prices dropped, so they were up near the top again (except for Archery Summit and some Serene). Now Evening Land is higher (probably others I don’t even notice). But they’ve kept their prices consistent, rather than jerking them up and down. If you don’t give a winery credit for releasing high-priced wines (why would you?), you can give them credit for never overpricing the brand and needing to backtrack. You don’t so BF on WTSO. A solid business model.

Okay, I’m confident that there are Parker-haters who will consequently badmouth BF - but I really don’t see much of that on here. On to the wine…

I’m sure there are some folks who liked wussified Oregon PN who don’t care for BF. BOB WOOD, I’M CALLING YOU OUT!!! As they prefer Belle Pente (which I have always suspected chose that name so their wine would be placed next to Beaux Freres on the shelves - kinda ironic). Lovers of 2007 OPN probably don’t have a lot of overlap with Beaux Freres drinkers, because BF tends to make big wines.

My opinion is that although they make big PN’s, BF makes big and balanced PN’s.

Also, and this is probably especially a gripe of people that otherwise like BF - the undisolved gases. I don’t want to rehash the bulldog pup debate, because I am confident that I already won that one - but (especially when they are young) there is a spritz to Beaux Freres. While I tend to scoff at decanting in general, this is a wine that always needs to breathe a little bit (check that - a lot) in order to get rid of some of the gases.

But I like the wine a lot - and have especially liked their wine in some vintages that were considered to be “off” - 1995, 1996, & 2001 (which I thought had more of a traditional Pinot noir profile than anything I had ever tasted from the winery - which is funny because if you read the notes on their website, they seem almost disapproving of their own wine! I tend to sit on mine for a long while, but I had a 2003 last Fall that was glorious.

Anyway, that’s my thoughts on (the perception of) BF.

I have never tasted their wine. But when I was surprised by the fact that BF is one of the founding members of Dry Root C. , I realized I am one of the victims of the “group think” Chris mentioned.

Hi Merrill. First, It could be the wrong word. I used it because with some wines people seem to go above and beyond the not providing perceived value argument. I could be reading more into it, but it seems that way for the First Growth Bordeaux wines, Checkerboard wines, the Futo wines, and some other wines that are on the aggressive end of pricing. People don’t like the way some producers “value” their wines I think. No one likes to pay high prices, that seems fair, but for the wines at the most expensive edge, the vitriol seems to be ratcheted up a notch or two. Since this is a passion for many of us, I believe some people resent wines being priced at the high end of the spectrum. i don’t personally resent any business charging what the want (at least for non-essential items), it is a choice of buy or don’t.

C. Grimm-

I agree with much of what you said but I would be one of those people that like BF and the 2007 vintage. [wow.gif] BF makes big wines that are made for the long haul. Air, BF laughs @ air and then shrugs… Just about every bottle that I have popped has needed hours of air to really get going- this has always left me wondering how many people out there did a pop and pour with a 5 year old BF and was left scratching their head. The 02’s that Gordon mentioned I won’t go near those for another 5 years to say the least, 99’s are just starting to open up and that’s with tons of air. Big wines but balanced for sure…

I can only say that the '09 Les Cousins with it’s huge bottle, attractive label, and white wax top hat was too much for me to resist at $22. I bought two. I should have bought none. A bad wine is no bargain at any price. It’s candied and hot. It burned the back of my throat like no other Oregon pinot that I can recall. [bleh.gif]

Okay, so here I am, and I think labeling Belle Pente and some of the other wines I like as “wussified” is a little much. And, since “Belle Pente” means “beautiful slope” I think your theory about the name us utter hogwash. If you knew Brian and Jill you’d realize just how stupid you sound because they care not one whit about comparisions with Beaux Freres or leaning on them for marketing help.

As for BF’s prices, they charge what they charge because they can. Others with a shorter track record tried that about five years ago and some of them (notably Josh Bergstrom) rolled prices back when they hit price resistance 3 years ago in the face of a lagging economy.

I like your statements about ‘group think’. Quite honestly, I think that what sometimes comes across as ‘group think’ only looks that way because of the same people talking to each other over and over. I am not a big fan of Oregon Pinot in general, and I have never found BF to be enjoyable. I find most BF and most Oregon pinots to be monolithic and too big. But, I also find that true in California as well. But, that is not group think and I believe I am in a minority on that. It is simply my opinion only.

S L Clayton;

I had a guest pre-request that 02 BF. I opened it a 2:00 p.m. for dinner at 7. It was sensational, and I’m extremely glad that I have 5 more in the cellar. [cheers.gif]