Belle Glos

Owner(s) Chuck Wagner, Joseph Wagner
Web site www.belleglos.com
 
Link to this site
Belle Glos

The Wagner family acquired farmland in the Napa Valley following the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco. A winery was built in 1915 and Chuck Wagner's grandfather produced bulk wine until Prohibition was enacted. Four decades later, Chuck and his parents, Charlie and Loma, established Caymus Vineyards in 1972. Charlie named the winery after the original Mexican land grant, Rancho Caymus, which encompassed the area now known as Rutherford. The Wagners began making wine at Caymus with no formal education in winemaking, but with the help of fellow vintners such as Robert Stemmler and Randy Dunn, Caymus became a benchmark and one of the crown jewels of Napa Valley Cabernets.

The Wagner family was able to branch out into other regions and varietals, and today, Belle Glos is one of four brands produced by the Wagner family (the Caymus umbrella also includes Mer Soleil and Conundrum). The wines have improved every year since the first releases in 2001. Chuck Wagner’s son, Joseph, handles the viticulture and winemaking for this label. The name (pronounced BELL GLOS) honors Joseph Wagner's grandmother, Loma Belle Glos. Three vineyard-designates include Taylor Lane Vineyard (Sonoma Coast), Las Alturas Vineyard (Santa Lucia Highlands) and Clark and Telephone Vineyard (Santa Maria Valley). A fourth Pinot Noir, Belle Glos Meiomi is a value-priced wine from declassified juice ($26).

The wines are distributed to fine wine retailers. The bottles are amongst the most charming in the business, offering a long neck dipped in generous wax. The Belle Glos Pinot Noirs in early vintages (2002-2005) were big-styled wines with generous extraction, alcohol and oak, and plenty of tannins when young. The last couple of years have shown more restraint. The Gambit series of Pinot Noirs debuted in 2008 featuring no added sulfur. They were even more voluptuous than the regular bottlings.

The wines have good retail distribution and are one of the most popular labels in restaurants, particularly the Meiomi bottling.

The winery is not open for tastings.

Reviewed Wines

2012 Belle Glos Oeil De Perdrix Pinot Noir Blanc

12.6% alc., $20. Sourced from Brugioni Vineyard in the Sonoma Coast. The name is French for “eye of the partridge,” a term for this wine’s color. Whole cluster pressed, brief exposure to French oak during and after fermentation. A portion of the sales go towards breast cancer research. · Moderate garnet color in the glass. Aromas of strawberry, dried herbs, blood orange and cherry. Soft in the mouth with pleasing flavors of cherry, strawberry, lime and blood orange. Best chilled. Score: 87. Reviewed August 15, 2014 ARTICLE »

2012 Belle Glos Clark & Telephone Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., $41.50. · Dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Unmistakably Belle Glos with vibrant aromas of dark cherries and berries, spice, balsam, dark chocolate and violets. Bold, almost syrupy, featuring flavors of dark stone and berry fruits, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla. Seductively plush and velvety on the palate with ripe, soft tannins. A richly layered, fruit driven wine that pushes the decadence envelope and who doesn’t enjoy decadence on occasion? Very good. Reviewed June 23, 2013 ARTICLE »

2012 Belle Glos Clark & Telephone Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., $44. Own-rooted Martini clone planted in 1972. Aged 9 months in 60% new French oak barrels. · Dark, deep violet color in the glass. This wine is oak vanillin-infused through and through. Moderately rich and plush flavors of candied plum, blackberry, black raspberry, exotic chocolate and spice are framed by good acidity and caressing, velvety tannins. Seductively soft and smooth on the palate, the wine finishes with a persistent wealth of fruit and a touch of heat. Score: 87. Reviewed October 27, 2013 ARTICLE »

2012 Belle Glos Dairyman Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., $44. This vineyard was planted to Dijon clones 115, 667 and 777 in 1989 on the site of an old dairy farm and purchased by winemaker Joseph Wagner in 2013. 100% de-stemmed, cold soak up to 2 weeks, proprietary yeast fermentation, punchdowns and punch-overs, free-run juice only, aged in 60% new French oak barrels for 9 months. The wine is typically racked twice during the aging process. The neck-dipped wax is appealing to look at, but the bottle is a bitch to open. · Deep, dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of oak vanillin, cake shop and marzipan with little fruit. Full-bodied, vanilla-infused flavors of dark berries, black plum and cassis with a heady oak sheen. Bold and opulent, with balanced tannins. The wine is fruit-driven and hedonistic with little Pinot character or site specificity. Score: 86. Reviewed February 22, 2014 ARTICLE »

2011 Belle Glos Clark & Telephone Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., $44. Released October 2012. Own-rooted Martini clone planted in 1972. Aged 9 months in French oak barrels. Dark violet color in the glass. 100% de-stemmed, extended cold soak, aged 9 months in 60% new French oak barrels. · Plenty to like on the nose with hi-tone aromas of spicy black plums, fresh blackberries and vanilla cream. A big gulp of exotically spiced plum and dark berry fruit is front and center, very seductive, expanding in the mouth, permeating every nook and cranny, and finishing with power, length and a velvety appeal. The creme soda-laced oak and cinnamon and clove spice flavors are complimentary. Similar to the 2010 version which was an “All-American.” This wine has something unique and recognizable to me. Not even close to classic or Old World traditional Pinot Noir, but it tastes great and drinks seamlessly. Cool package too. Reviewed February 27, 2013 ARTICLE »

2010 Belle Glos Clark & Telephone Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 3,475 cases, $44. Released December 2011. Established in 1972, this vineyard is planted own rooted to the Martini clone. 100% de-stemmed, inoculation of yeasts to match each lot, punch down and punch-over techniques. Yields 1.67 tons per acre. · Deep, dark purple robe in the glass. The nose is remarkably intense and persistent, pumping out aromas of dark berry jam, black currants, spice and vanillin over extended time in the glass. Flat-out stunning flavors of fresh black raspberries and blackberries with a complimentary exotic spice bent. Some refined tannins lead to a silky mouth feel. Astonishing length on the fruit-laden finish. I have rarely experienced a California Pinot Noir with such an incredibly long finish. Reviewed July 23, 2012 ARTICLE »

2010 Belle Glos Las Alturas Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., $44. Released December 2011. The vineyard is located in one of the highest plantable sites in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA (540 to 1200 feet). The southern locale is warmer by day and cooler by night with less wind than the northern portion of the AVA. Yields 1.76 tons per acre. 100% de-stemmed, cold soaked, punchdown and punch-over techniques. · Dark purple color in the glass. Scents of black fruits, tea and wine cave. Striking flavor of perfectly ripe black raspberries which coats the palate and expands in the mouth, finishing with a long, intense flourish and a bright cut of acidity. Subtle notes of spice and vanillin add interest. Seductively smooth with supple tannins. Powerful, but light on its feet. Not quite as big as the Clark & Telephone but equally satisfying. Reviewed July 23, 2012 ARTICLE »

2010 Belle Glos Taylor Lane Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., $44. Released March 2012. Located less than 6 miles from the Pacific Ocean on Taylor Lane, adjacent Summa Vineyard. 10 acres of Dijon clones 113, 114, 115 and 777 are paired with an adapted Italian trellis system creating a horizontal canopy, geared to bringing more dappled sunlight to the vines throughout the day. The vines are at an elevated height, allowing sheep to graze the vineyard for natural weed control. 2010 was cooler than normal and the vineyard was battered by early October storms, but the fruit hung in until harvest finished on October 25. Yields 2.38 tons per acre. 100% de-stemmed, inoculation of yeasts tailored to each lot, punchdown and punch-over techniques. · Dark purple color in the glass. Aromas of berry jam on brioche and spice draw you into the glass. Delicious flavors of black cap raspberries and black plums with an earthy, compost undertone. Moderately rich with restrained tannins and some length on the fruit-filled finish. Approachable now, but the least giving of the three 2010 wines at this time. Very good. Reviewed July 23, 2012 ARTICLE »

2009 Belle Glos Clark & Telephone Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., $35. 76 acres including own-rooted Martini clone dating to 1972. Yield 1.73 tons per acre. Aged 9 months in French oak barrels. · Dark reddish-purple in the glass. Opens slowly in the glass revealing aromas of black stone fruits, herbs, spice and oak. A burly, husky wine with a generous core of dark Pinot fruits accented by notes of anise and vanilla. The texture is silky, the tannins are reserved, and the wine finishes with generous oak-imbued fruit. Good. Reviewed July 1, 2011 ARTICLE »

2009 Belle Glos Las Alturas Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., $35. This vineyard is located in the southernmost part of the Santa Lucia Highlands which is warmer and exposed to tamer winds than the vineyards in the North. 30.2 acres, yield 1.89 tons per acre. Aged 9 months in French oak barrels. · Dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Fruity nose featuring black plum and berry jam aromas with hints of oak and spice. Oak takes over with time in the glass. Intense fruit core offering flavors of dark raspberry pie filling, plum reduction sauce and oak. Juicy and mouth coating with a soft underbelly and a dry finish. Will benefit from more time in the cellar. Good (+). Reviewed July 1, 2011 ARTICLE »

2009 Belle Glos Taylor Lane Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $35. 10 acres, yield 1.1 tons per acre, Goldridge loam soil, Dijon clones. · Dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherry cobbler, cassis, wet stones and crusty bread. Fairly intense and burly featuring black stone fruits and dark berries with aggressive tannins and a rich mouth feel. Needs time to soften and integrate the tannins. Decent. Reviewed July 1, 2011 ARTICLE »

2008 Belle Glos Clark & Telephone Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., $50. Aged in French oak for 9 months. · Deeply colored. Lovely perfume of red and black fruits with a touch of oak spice. Earthy, briny and meaty dark fruits complimented by oak and cloaked in supple tannins. Very smoothly textured making it easy to drink. A very distinctive wine that is reflective of the Martini selection and this terroir. I am usually not a big fan of Martini selection Pinot Noirs, but this wine really delivers the goods. Reviewed April 23, 2010 ARTICLE »

2008 Belle Glos Los Alturas Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., $50. Aged 9 months in French oak. · Don’t even think about drinking this wine now unless you decant it first. Brooding aromas that take some swirling to free up. Dark fruits with hints of oak and cardamon spice. Tight in the mouth with oodles of plum and blackberry liquor essence with notes of creosol and savory herbs. Healthy tannins but soft and smooth on the palate. Gets better and better over time in the glass. Not for the timid. Very good. Reviewed April 23, 2010 ARTICLE »

2008 Belle Glos Taylor Lane Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., $50. Aged 9 months in French oak. Deep, dark reddish-purple color in the glass. · Intensely fruity nose that improves with time in the glass revealing a perfume of crushed plums, boysenberries, oak spice and underbrush. A whiff of alcohol peaks out as the wine warms. Rustic and sinewy with flavors of black cherries, blackberries, cola, cassis, herbs and oak. The tannins are restrained and there is a good lift of acidity on the finish which shows some persistence. Good. Reviewed April 23, 2010 ARTICLE »

2007 Belle Glos Taylor Lane Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., $40. · Dark purple color. Well-spiced black cherry and berry scent reminiscent of jam on toast. Rich middle palate of sweet cherries, berries and plums which is plush, even syrupy, but not jammy. A fruit driven wine with moderate dry grainy tannins that will find many fans. Take this handsome wax-dipped bottle (a tab is attached to the wax for easy opening) to a restaurant and you will get some attention. The best wine I have tasted from this producer to date. Widely distributed (under the Caymus family umbrella). Reviewed October 29, 2009 ARTICLE »

2006 Belle Glos Oeil De Perdrix Pinot Noir Blanc Yorkville Highlands Mendocino County

12.0% alc. $25. This wine was exposed briefly to French oak during and after fermentation. A portion of the sales of this wine go to research for breast cancer. · Medium pink-orange in color. Aromas of strawberry soda and new-mown grass. Delicious strawberry flavors with a complimentary note of toast. Rich for a rosé with an appealing persistence on the finish. Can match up with substantial food. Reviewed May 26, 2008 ARTICLE »

2005 Belle Glos Los Alturas Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Monterey County Pinot Noir

1234 cases, $50. This label is under the Caymus umbrella and the wines have gotten better every year since the first releases in 2001. Chuck Wagner’s son, Joseph, handles the viticulture and winemaking for this label. The wines are distributed to fine wine retailers. No website. · A Pinot with very expressive aromatics featuring cherries, vanilla, and sweet oak. Nice depth and richness of flavor with fine tannins and a clean finish. The best Pinot I have had from this producer. Very sexy label and bottle with red wax draped around the neck (and a nice wax tab for easily removing the wax at the top to access the cork). Reviewed January 22, 2007 ARTICLE »

2004 Belle Glos Taylor Lane Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., $45. From a vineyard located in the Occidental Ridges planted to Dijon clones. Aged 9 months in French oak. · Deep purple color in the glass. Welcoming scents of black cherries, black olive, toasted oak and a hint of spice. Plenty of dark cherry and berry fruit, accents of tobacco, oak and nutmeg, on a polished, rich platform with minimal tannins. A tasty ripe style of Pinot Noir that seduces with a plush mouth feel. Very good (+). Reviewed December 16, 2009 ARTICLE »