Bethel Heights is pleased to announce the release of our first 2009 vintage Pinot noir. We had a very warm summer in 2009 that gave us ripe, rich Pinot flavors, with a cool end of season to retain acidity. The wines are luscious and vibrant, and drinking beautifully even at this early stage in their life.
We are also pleased to announce that both our 2009 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir (immediate release) and our 2009 Estate Grown Pinot Noir (anticipated June release) have Stelvin closures instead of corks, promising that the wine in every bottle is exactly the same vibrant, flawless wine we put into the bottle, uncompromised by any degree of cork taint.
Our fearless second-generation leaders, Ben Casteel and Mimi Casteel, precipitated this decision to move from corks to screwcaps after a long, arduous year of road trips. After opening and pouring many bottles of Pinot noir at trade tastings, seminars, wine dinners, and distributor ride-withs all over the country, each of them returned home with stories about repeated experiences of bottles that were just a bit “off.” The bottles that put them over the edge were not the ones that were obviously corked, with that nasty smell that no one can miss; they were just dumb. It was the subtle variations that bothered them the most. No one could tell there was any problem with those bottles except those who knew the wines intimately, and knew how beautiful the wine was before it went into the bottle.
Lots of excuses are made for such bottle variability. We are finally convinced the problem is with the corks. No matter how much we pay to get the best corks, there is always a certain percentage that robs the wine of its integrity after it goes into the bottle, maybe as high as 10%.
We’ve been using Stelvin closures on most of our white wines since 2004. Without fail, they retain their purity and freshness in the bottle. Many wineries throughout the world have been using Stelvin closures on their highest quality ageworthy wines for years now, with great success. There was simply no longer any reason to say no, when Ben and Mimi dug in their heels and said “no more corks” for these wines that travel all over the country making new friends for Bethel Heights.
Our 2009 Casteel Reserve and single vineyard Pinots are still cork-finished, since these are destined primarily for the cellars of people who already know our wines. But we’re keeping an open mind about 2010…
Meanwhile, the entire Bethel Heights family is very pleased to introduce our 2009 cork-free Pinot noir and we welcome comments from all who meet them.