Perhaps the best aspect of epic vintages like 2018 is that they are gifts that keep giving. Winery release schedules are staggered; some 2018s are long gone and some won't come for another year. But let's focus on the present, the now, and what's in our glass: 2018 Bethel Heights Casteel Pinot noir.
After an outstanding visit to Bethel Heights last week, we can confirm that their 2018s are majestic. The flagship of them all, the only Bethel Heights Pinot to carry the family name, Casteel is Willamette Valley royalty, the epitome of the vintage.
What's so spectacular about the 2018? It begins with the nose, sensationally attractive and inviting! Then layer upon layer of fruit--some rich and creamy, some vibrant with fresh-off-the-vine energy. It has broad shoulders with tons of early appeal yet is beautifully chiseled underneath; the generous fruit conceals the taut muscular frame. The '18 Casteel can show you many sides--I think you'll love all of them. - Marcus
95 points Vinous: "A highly complex bouquet evokes red and blue fruit preserves, incense and potpourri, and exotic spice and smoky mineral accents emerge as the wine opens up. Appealingly sweet, palate-staining black raspberry and cherry liqueur and spicecake flavors develop a hint of florality on the back half. Delivers solid punch but comes off lithe, leading into an extremely long, vibrant, floral-driven finish." -Josh Raynolds
2017 vintage notes
Wine Spectator 93 points: "Polished and finely structured, with elegantly expressive raspberry, black tea and stony mineral notes that build tension toward fine-grained tannins. Drink now through 2025."
2016 vintage notes
94 points Wine Advocate: "The nose of the 2016 Pinot Noir Casteel bursts from the glass with violet and lilac aromas over blueberry pie, cardamom, potpourri, bitter peel, tree bark and tilled loamy earth. Medium-bodied, the palate is packed full of blackberry and bramble berry preserves notes, with a wonderful frame of fine-grained tannins and loads of freshness, finishing very, very long with layer after layer of earth and savory notions."
2015 vintage notes
94 points Vinous: "Smoke-accented black raspberry, cherry cola and candied rose scents, along with hints of star anise and mocha. Silky, sweet and broad on the palate, offering juicy, densely packed red and blue fruit and spicecake flavors that pick up floral pastille and licorice flourishes as the wine opens up. Supple tannins add shape to a smooth, extremely long finish that leaves behind sappy red berry liqueur and five-spice powder notes." - Josh Raynolds
2014 vintage notes
94 points Wine Advocate: "It has a crisp and very focused bouquet with dark plum, cranberry leaf and cold stone aromas that show impressive transparency. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, very harmonious and cohesive with a supple texture, very pure with great tension and precision towards the finish. What a fabulous Pinot Noir -- world class.
2012 vintage notes
Nothing short of incredible. I'm asked all the time if certain wines are "really that good." Yes, this is really that good. It's better, in fact. One of my top Pinots of the 2012 vintage, f-ing wow! Sexy and supple, amazingly deep and rich yet stunningly elegant. So superbly integrated and balanced. - Marcus
Only 230 cases made, the 2012 is a blend of Dijon clone blocks from Bethel Heights' Estate Vineyard, planted in 1994 and 1996.