Bethel Heights Aeolian Pinot noir 2021
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In little more than a handful of vintages since it was first bottled, Aeolian has become one of the most exciting and simply wonderful Willamette Valley Pinots. The 2021 is the synergy of elegance and energy; while Aeolian is often tightly wound upon release, we love the '21's air of showy brilliance, its beautifully bright, deep and succulent red tones. Aeolian 2021 is like the heartbeat of the Eola-Amity Hills, pulsing with the dynamics of wind and ocean air. Don't miss it! -Marcus
Ben Casteel: The Aeolian has evolved in the eight vintages since we started making it, beginning as a means of expressing the ever-changing nature of our younger blocks and now settling in, as most things do at Bethel Heights, as a wine defined by place. Three blocks planted in 2002 high above the rest of the vineyard continue to make up a large portion of this wine, but in 2021 we decided to include some of our plantings from the West side of the property as well. The 2021 Aeolian presents both purity and power; aromas of red cherry, rhubarb, and raspberry, tremendous tension through the mid palate, and delicate fine grain tannins through the finish.
The goal of the Aeolian is always refinement. While certain parts of the estate lend themselves to more boisterous or rustic examples of Pinot noir depending on the vintage, for the Aeolian in each vintage we are trying to find the blend that best expresses our ideal of Bethel Heights purity, elegance, grace and balance.
Named for the wind that defines our Eola-Amity Hills AVA, the Aeolian Pinot Noir is our vehicle to explore the dynamic evolving landscape that we farm. The sense of place and specificity that we value most highly in our wines takes many years to evolve. With our oldest vines we allow each block to speak for itself in a separate bottling. The second generation vines at Bethel Heights, on the other hand, are just beginning to find their voice. In these years in between, the Aeolian allows us the freedom to dream of what lies beyond the horizon.
2019 vintage notes
95 points The Wine Advocate: "The 2019 Pinot Noir AEolian has alluring scents of blood orange, tea leaves and earth with wild berries and Angostura-like accents. Silky and fresh, it flows across the palate with detailed floral flavors and finishes long and layered."
2017 vintage notes
94 points Wine Spectator: "Shows grace and presence, with compelling and complex raspberry, dusky spice and orange tea flavors that build richness toward polished tannins. Drink now through 2026."
2013 vintage notes
On a beautiful summer visit to the winery, tasting an impressively large suite of wines, we were particularly struck by the beauty, savoriness, and purity of the 2013 Æolian. That's right, 2013. You know, the vintage that was forgotten because of 2014 and 2015. We've been enjoying several '13s lately because of their freshness and buoyancy, Æolian being a prime example. Dominated by fresh raspberry and black cherry, with a savory depth hinting at warm earth and juniper. More a wine for the cellar and dinner table than a wine for casual sipping, it'll shine with two to four years of age or with roasted chicken.
2014 vintage notes
94 points Wine Spectator: "Aromatically pure, with currant, plum, chocolate, mineral and floral notes mingling effortlessly and continuing into a long and expressive mouthful of open-textured intensity and depth. Has terrific presence and length. Best from 2017 through 2024."
2012 vintage notes
A prototypical Eola-Amity Hills Pinot noir with very expressive, even perfumed black fruit aromas and an attractive incense note. The black cherry flavors that we're starting to recognize as a commonality in the 2012s are succulent, combining with a wave of blue/black fruit enmeshed with lively acidity, flecks of Tellicherry peppercorn and sweet, resinous herbs. I agree with the winery's 10-year aging window, though I find it exhilarating for a young wine when opened now and tasted over a couple days. - Marcus
The second generation of Casteels has taken on more responsibilities at Bethel Heights; Ben (winemaker) and Mimi (viticulturalist and general manager) Casteel shared their thoughts on the newest estate Pinot noir: "Since our return to Bethel Heights, neither Ben nor I have felt compelled to break the program that was established by our parents, until now. Our focus has been to elevate the portfolio and deepen our relationship with this place. As the vineyard has matured so has our understanding of its voice, its flow, and its particular signature as one of the Houses of Oregon Wine. This study and practice is what fueled our desire to create our new wine, Aeolian.