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2005 Belle Vallée Whole Cluster Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

12.5% alc., 3,950 cases, $14, screw cap. Made in the Beaujolais style. Whole clusters are put into closed top stainless steel vats and left alone to allow carbonic maceration to proceed. The juice that forms at the bottom is drained off periodically. There are no punch downs. Fermentation proceeds rapidly but is not allowed to go too long to avoid too much extraction from the stems. The wine is pressed to tank, bottled and released two months after harvest. The idea is to taste the grapes as they come from the vineyard. · The wine smells just like grape must during fermentation. The flavors are fresh and spicy and pure Pinot. Simple and not a wine to ponder, but a low alcohol treat to drink without pretension. Fantastic with coq au vin because of its fruitiness. Reviewed August 14, 2006

Winery: Belle Vallée Cellars