Each week I pick out one wine to highlight as my wine of the week.  This wine may be an outstanding wine, a great value or just something very interesting.







I was introduced to Belle Pente by a local friend.  After having a bottle he picked up at the winery for me, I was hooked.  When he received an offer from the winery for their newly released wines, we split a case of this wine at a great discount.



The Winery

Belle Pente (bell-pont’) means “beautiful slope” – a perfect description for our hillside vineyard site in the Yamhill-Carlton District of Oregon’s Willamette Valley.  Our inspiration comes from the exquisite wines of Burgundy and Alsace, and follows the guiding principle that great wine is made in the vineyard and merely nurtured in the winery.  Our standard practices include organic & biodynamic viticulture, carefully managing vineyard quality and yields, and meticulously hand sorting the grapes that arrive at the winery to remove all under ripe or damaged fruit.  Our 3-level, gravity-flow winery is designed for gentle, natural winemaking in small lots, with minimal handling and manipulation, to produce premium wines of character and distinction.


Belle Pente is owned and operated by Jill & Brian O’Donnell.  The 70 acre property is located on a historic farm 2 miles east of the town of Carlton in the new Yamhill-Carlton American Viticultural Area.  The vineyard site rises from 240′ to 500′ with south, south-east, and south-west exposures.  The first vineyard was planted in 1994, and now includes 16 acres of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay.  Our estate vineyard is supplemented with high quality fruit grown to our specifications in partnership with carefully selected independent Yamhill County vineyards.


For more information on the winery and their wines, visit their website by clicking here.






I’m not sure of the availability but the winery has a couple of nice “Instant Cellar Packages” listed on their website.  One package is 3 bottles of the 2007 to 2010 vintages; the other is 2 bottles each of 2005 to 2010.  For more information, check out their website.


The winery does not have nationwide distribution but their wines are distributed in 14 states and the District of Columbia.  Check out their website to see if your state is one of the lucky ones.  If your state does not have distribution, the wines are available via their website.  Their wines are also available at various stores on the internet; use Wine Searcher to find them.


2008 Belle Pente Pinot Noir Estate Reserve – $38.25

This wine is based on the best barrels selected from the best blocks in the vineyard.


The wine has 13.8% alcohol by volume and the bottle is sealed with a natural cork.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a nice red to ruby red color.  The very nice nose has cherries, baking spices (think cherry pie), some earthiness, fresh wild flowers, minerals, smoke, orange zest and a touch of dark chocolate.  This has medium body, fairly solid ripe tannins, and good acidity.  This is fresh and lively on the palate with the cherries and spices carrying the load until some earthy elements come into the picture on the backend adding depth.  The finish is long and easy going with the bright cherries and spice again doing the heavy lifting but a nice orange zest element also enters the picture.  This may be on the young side but it is very approachable and enjoyable, which really is all that counts.  (94 pts)

2008 Belle Pente Pinot Noir Estate Reserve

2008 Belle Pente Pinot Noir Estate Reserve




Win an All-inclusive VIP Sonoma Winecation






Underground Cellar is offering you a chance to win an all-inclusive VIP weekend in Sonoma wine country.


The winner will get the following with a value of $6,500:

  • Weekend getaway for 4 to California’s exclusive Sonoma wine country
  • Stay at the luxurious 5,500 sq. ft. Villa Terra Nova Retreat
  • Behind-the-scenes private tour of Iron Horse Vineyards, by winemaker David Munskgard
  • VIP chef’s dinner at award-winning “the girl and the fig” restaurant
  • Rountrip airfare, luxury transportation, and many other surprises!

Click here to enter.   If you win, you can even include me as one of your friends.

Even if you don’t win the grand prize, there is over $3,000 of gift cards with a value of up to $200 to be given away.


While you’re there, check out Underground Cellar unique wine selling model.  You can “buy” a lower cost wine and get upgraded to a much more expensive bottle for free.  For example, one of their current offers is $42 for a 2008 Balboa Brioso.  If you buy this wine, you could get “upgraded” to 2007 Stonestreet Monument Ridge Cabernet ($60 value), 2009 Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet ($85 value), 2007 Anderson’s Conn Valley Reserve Cabernet ($130 value), 1994 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon ($150 value), or even a 1985 BR Cohn Cabernet Sauvignon Olive Hill (Helen Turley) with a value of $220.


The shipping is also incredible, at 6 bottles, shipping cost $5! Buy 6 more bottles and ship for FREE.




Connect with me

You can follow me on Twitter for more wine info, potential food pairings, and an occasional recipe or two.  Be warned, I’m also a sports fan and there are occasional Pittsburgh Penguins, Steelers, and Pirates tweets.  I attended the University of South Carolina, so during football season, there will also be some Gamecock posts.


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This is original to CliffsWinePicks.com.  Copyright 2013 Cliff’s Wine Picks.

All rights reserved.




***** Shameless Self Promotion *****


Here is a link to a YouTube video of me getting “coal” from Santa for being named the “Nicest Person in Social Media” in 2012.






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Remember to support your local wine store!




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Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at www.cellartracker.com.  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.



Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.



All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.