Prolific wine reviewer, writer and videographer James Melendez of James The Wine Guy, recently released his 11th annual list of the Top 100 Wines he tasted in 2021. And, much to our great surprise, TWO of Bells Up’s pinot noirs were included:
2018 Titan Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, to which he awarded 94 points (out of 100) when he reviewed it, saying…
To me, I think this wine is just really a sublime, beautiful expression. Pinot noir is just a rare variety where I think you’re just tasting so many characters and so many complex notes, musical notes again, coming through.
But to me it really is very expressive and lyrical and beautiful. So, if you haven’t tasted a lot of Oregon Pinot noir, this is an excellent one to add to your wine tasting table. It is fantastic. I’m going to talk first about the nose and then the palate characterization, and then the point score.
I love the color: light, mid-garnet colorization, vitreous. The nose on this is blue and black fruit notes and split cedar, red and purple flowers, as well as leather notes, evergreen forest and spices.
Next, the palate characterization. Such a beautiful, splendid wine. The acidity is very, very forward and very approachable. And I really get on the front palate notes of heirloom blackberry. Also the minerality on this is very nice. It’s a graphite note, especially on the front palate and then a sequencing to notes of white pepper, red tea, hoisin notes for a bit of a savory character, and finishing with a dried red rose petal.
2018 Villanelle Tonnelier Vineyard Reserve Pinot Noir, to which he also awarded 94 points (out of 100) when featured it, noting…
Exquisite wine. I really enjoy a pinot noir that has right extraction point, not depending on coloration. If it has way too much coloration — that is too much exposure through macerations skin contact — it’s going to color the wine and yes, it does flavor the wine… I want the optimum or the optimized characterization so that the pinot noir grape speaks for itself and the skin doesn’t overwhelm it.
For me, the coloration tells me a bit about that. Actually, it’s a light to mid garnet colorization. It’s vitreous, which I would hope and expect for. In other pinot noirs that you see on the planet, they’re very, very dark and inky. Almost Syrah-esque. And so somehow I think that does overexpress in terms of the macerations. I think a lot of people are really expecting what is that honest signature of pinot noir.
It’s all about balance… both on the nose as well as the palate. That’s the beauty of this wine, getting things from fruit, all the way to notations of espresso, pepper, other spice notes, and just really a nice variation in theme that makes it a very romantic, beautiful, and a wine that is just so memorable and captivating. It could only be pinot noir when it really is pinot noir. I know it sounds obvious, right? But ultimately there’s something very romantic and very inspiring about this wine.
This wine has a nose of heirloom Blackberry, maybe a Blackberry preserve, and it’s a wonderful expression. Fresh red rose pedal, as well as suede notes and spices. Between the nose and the palate, there is some expression that is slightly different.
Very, very nice and enjoyable and shows a very dynamic and complex range for this wine. So the palate is expressive. Beautiful. A very nice elongated finish on this. Notes on this are mountain strawberry, fennel, pepper a hint of espresso and dried red rose petal.
This is 94 points out of a hundred points, nice elongated finish a really beautiful, fantastic wine with food. Enjoy this with a variety of dishes. I’m going to enjoy this with fish because I think the acidity on this is just absolutely perfect.
Melendez has been producing thoughtful, meticulously-researched reviews of wines since November 2006. Passionate about wine and business, Melendez — a former national wine marketing manager for a large, off-premise food and wine retailer — has produced thousands upon thousands of brief video reviews. These clips, which typically run less than 5 minutes long, provide a small introduction to the producer, as well as his thoughts on the wine’s color, nose, and palate profiles.
Obviously, we are incredibly honored (and, as mentioned before, truly surprised!) to have been included on this list of other amazing and highly-regarded producers.
You can watch his original video review for the 2018 Titan, here:
His original video review for the 2018 Villanelle can be seen here: