2008 Beacon Hill Estate Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Yamhill-Carlton District
 
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Beacon Hill Vineyards Sherlock Holmes and Spectator's Perfect Vintage

In 1997, the brilliant winemaker Tony Soter (Dalle Valle, Spotteswood, Etude) surprised his Napa neighbors by purchasing two exquisite properties in Oregon's Willamette Valley. Two years later, Soter was raking in the critical accolades at both Beacon Hill and Mineral Springs, garnering rave reviews from Parker and Tanzer, raising eyebrows from Ribbon Ridge to the Eola-Amity Hills.

Seven years later, realizing the need to pour more time and resources into one property, Soter determined to sell the other. After much soul searching, Tony did just that, when Romanian viticulturalist Razvan Andreescu and his American partners purchased Beacon Hill.

By all appearances, Andreescu's timing couldn't have been better. In just his third harvest off the property, a perfect Indian summer led to a miracle Pinot Noir harvest, one which Wine Spectator would call the coast's first 100-point vintage. Despite the recession, the Spectator and Wine Advocate reports roused sleeping wholesalers, setting off a buying bonanza the likes of which Oregon had never seen. The Romanian's Beacon Hill was off to the races. Or so it appeared.

Andreescu apparently rolled the dice in the vineyards, pushing the envelope, even adopting rigorous biodynamic protocols. By all accounts, he was determined to not simply maintain, but to exceed Soter's standards. And if the subject of today's story is any indication, the eastern European viticulturalist did just that.

The 2008 Beacon Hill Pinot Noir Estate is a chiseled beauty, so typical of this landmark harvest. Deep ruby to the edge, with luscious aromas of raspberries and wild cherry, tinged with sweet herbs and classic underbrush. Rich and sturdy on the attack, with broad shoulders and chewy crushed red fruit filling, the finish bright, vibrant and muscular, arguing for a 3-5 year stay in a cool cellar.

So what gives? Why are we still talking about a superb estate-grown 2008 Pinot Noir two years after most bottles were sucked out of Willamette Valley's top cellars? The rumors still abound. We've made dozens of calls to all the likely suspects. We've looked for reasons to explain the seemingly inexplicable. But in the end, this is all we've learned. Quietly, Andreescu seems to have disappeared, purportedly returning to Romania after selling the property to his vineyard manager for what some have called "a song." Then, in the craziest twist of all, the buyer called Tony Soter, who promptly leased back the property he'd once tended.

Today, we're giving up on our Holmesian search, accepting the Beacon Hill story for what it is -- an unsolved mystery. But, before we do, we're treating WineAccess members to one last shot at the greatest estate-grown Pinot Noir bargain of Spectator's perfect vintage in Willamette Valley.


Tasting Notes

2008 Beacon Hill Estate Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Yamhill-Carlton District
"Deep ruby, infused with high-toned aromas of raspberries and wild cherry, tinged with sweet herbs and underbrush. Rich and sturdy on the attack, typical of the vintage, broad shoulders filled with briary, crushed red fruit opulence. The finish is bright, and muscular, arguing for a 3-5 year stay in a cool cellar."
-- WineAccess Travel Log


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