Bethel Heights, one of Oregon's pioneering wineries, is a winery we trust every vintage and an unabashed favorite. At the Willamette Valley Barrel Auction in April, Bethel Heights' 2015 auction lot was our favorite wine in the room. And they made the Oregon Chardonnay of the 2014 vintage, Justice Vineyard (yes, of the vintage, and expect similar results from the 2015).
We're not alone in our trust of Bethel Heights: Wine Spectator recently featured the winery in their Editor's Picks, 30 Wineries to Trust. Trust Bethel Heights to keep knocking it out of the park!
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
95 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.