It’s always a joy to feel appreciated. And whenever Southern California-based wine writers Nathan and Courtney Marton review one of our wines, that’s precisely how we feel. Particularly because the dynamic duo sample a lot of wine and post reviews on their Winery Reflections website and social media accounts routinely.
It was extra special to read their review of the 2020 Candide Zenith Vineyard Reserve Pinot Noir. Made of 95% Zenith Vineyard Wadenswïl Heritage Clone of Pinot Noir and just 5% of our own estate Pommard (also a Heritage Clone), this wine almost didn’t get made.
Produced during the “Wildfire Year” (also known as the “Dumpster Fire Year” thanks to the pandemic), our plans to make Candide appeared scuttled when our original source vineyard for the Wadenswïl suffered the impact of a nearby spot fire just two weeks before harvest.
Desperate, Sara spent hours calling contacts around the Willamette Valley to try to replace it. At the 11th hour, literally, Tim Ramey at Zenith Vineyard offered us a one-acre block of the most beautiful Wadenswïl fruit we’d ever seen. Although we had no intention of producing a single vineyard designate of Candide that year, with 95% of the final composition being from Zenith, this vintage qualified.
Because they live in Southern California, the Martons are no strangers to wildfires and their potential impact on wines from their region. So it was particularly gratifying to hear how much they enjoyed this one.
A tantalizingly plush and expressive display dripping with juicy boysenberry, plump dark cherry, strawberry preserves, and black licorice gushes with luscious and layered delight as seductive floral tones of hibiscus, rose petal, and sweet violet further bolster expansive aromatics. Notes of green tea, peat moss, and tree bark playfully impart pleasant herbal and forest character enhanced by an intriguing range of spices including cumin, clove, and nutmeg. Hints of sarsaparilla, mocha, and milk chocolate gently reveal understated bits of dessert-like decadence juxtaposed against subtle earthiness in the form of iron and tilled soil.
Beautifully outgoing yet soft and supple on the palate with an exciting combination of delicateness and depth; exhibiting an effortlessly elegant and brilliantly balanced presentation that possesses weightless density and a long lingering finish. Medium bodied with elevated yet silky tannin backed by bright acidity. This 2020 “Candide” Zenith Vineyard Pinot Noir by Bells Up Winery is a generous and gorgeously textured red from Oregon’s Eola-Amity Hills.
Although the 2020 vintage was infamously difficult for winegrowers in the Willamette Valley, many great wines were still able to be made from those whose vineyards were lucky enough to be spared from the impact of the year’s disastrous wildfires. This bottling, crafted by Bells Up Winery using Pinot Noir sourced from the Zenith Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills, is a perfect example of a triumph in the midst of tragedy.
This gushes with an irresistible range of lush black and red fruits enhanced by expressive floral tones, clean herbal and forest notes, balanced barrel spice, iron-rich earthiness, and a well-integrated chocolatey sheen. Although incredibly attractive today, it also possesses the structure to benefit from further aging and will likely require another 5-10 years in the cellar reach its highest drinking peak. Outstanding.
The 2020 Candide Zenith Vineyard Reserve Pinot Noir has been extremely popular, and we’re down to just a handful of cases left in inventory.