Hello friends. There have been two themes to much of the feedback I have received so far regarding our foray into Oregon wines: 1) where is this 2008 vintage everyone keeps raving about; and 2) can we see more examples of Pinot that veer more towards Burgundy than, say, California.
Well, squeaky wheels, here’s your grease, in both 750s and in rarer 1.5L magnums (note: a few of you have specifically requested the 07 Laurene as well. It won’t be the focus of this offering, but I will include it at the bottom):
2008 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Pinot Noir Willamette Valley
This paragraph in our inaugural Oregon offering seems to have piqued some interest:
“By 1970, The Eyrie Vineyards was producing wine, but it wasn’t until 1980 that the landscape shifted seismically. That was the year that Robert Drouhin included the 1975 Eyrie Vineyards South Block Reserve Pinot Noir in a blind tasting against many of Maison Joseph Drouhin’s finest Burgundies. Finishing in first place: one of Drouhin’s 1959 Pinots; and in second, two-tenths of a point behind, was The Eyrie Vineyards. That event set in motion the eventual move by Drouhin to establish an Oregonian outpost, which they did with the establishment of Domaine Drouhin Oregon in 1987.”
The ‘80s have been eventful decades for the Drouhin family. In the 1880s, Joseph Drouhin founded Maison Joseph Drouhin in Beaune. One hundred years later, in 1987, the house expanded into Oregon.
Joseph’s grandson Robert was the true visionary when it came to Oregon. He first visited the area in 1961 and was intrigued by the potential of the marginal climate and gently rolling hillsides. The 1980 tasting mentioned above further cemented his interest in the region. And in 1986, Robert’s daughter Veronique (part of the fourth generation of Drouhins involved in wine) was graduating from the University of Dijon with her advanced enology degree. Rather than interning in Burgundy, she made the fateful decision to intern in Oregon, working the 1986 harvest with Adelsheim, Bethel Heights, and Eyrie.
While Veronique was at Adelsheim, Robert expressed to David Adelsheim that it might be interesting for his Maison to farm a piece of land in Oregon. Just a few months later, David alerted Robert to the availability of a 225-acre farm for sale that had been growing wheat and Christmas trees in the heart of the red jory soils of the Dundee Hills. The purchase was completed in 1987, and DDO was born.
Veronique never really left. She began DDO with the 1988 vintage, using purchased fruit and working out of Chehalem’s winery, and she has since produced every drop of wine that has come out of the Oregon Domaine. That first 1988 DDO Pinot prompted the following quote from UK critic Clive Coates: “Right from the beginning, one property seemed to be able to produce a wine which was purer, more cleanly fruity, and certainly more Burgundian than the others. It was, of course, Domaine Drouhin.”
The 1990s and 2000s have seen the establishment and maturity of much of the DDO vineyard holdings, and the wines have only grown stronger and stronger. The 2008 vintage was, by all accounts, a dream vintage. Some sample quotes from DDO regarding 2008: “Some years make you work very hard for what you get, others, like 2008, let you breathe a bit and appreciate how wonderful it is to make wine in Oregon.” “The fruit is hand-picked and brought to the winery in small totes for sorting (though virtually no sorting was required in 2008).”
This is the vintage where two different winemakers have repeated essentially the same quote to me: that a monkey could make good Oregon Pinot in 2008. But what about the top producers in a top vintage? Is there anything better?
The 08 is killer juice, one of those wines that’s fun for blind tastings, because half the group will be in the old world camp and half in the new. And in some ways, everyone will be right. This has immediate appeal on the nose, which is layered and complex. Black cherry and fig paste lead the way, but it’s the background saline/seaweed/umami notes that cause the double takes and the return to the glass over and over again. There is a fine sense of balance at work here, between savory and sweet, between fruity and earthy. It’s as fine-tuned as a Steinway, and brings as much aesthetic pleasure.
First come first served up to 12 bottles, and the wine should arrive at the warehouse in about a week, at which point it will be available for pickup or shipping during the autumn shipping window.
2008 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Pinot Noir Willamette Valley (1.5L)
For those of you looking for a fine centerpiece to a cellar or dinner party, or for those looking to hold these a little longer, we have a limited number of large format bottles.
Please limit order requests to 3 magnums, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wine should arrive at the warehouse in about a week, at which point it will be available for pickup or shipping during the autumn shipping window.
2007 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Pinot Noir “Laurene”
Requests for this have come entirely from acolytes of Allen Meadows. Allen is the author of Burghound, he is a Pinot Noir savant, and he is a tough scorer (like Stephen Tanzer, it’s a good idea to apply about a 3pt curve when comparing his scores to other publications).
Laurene (a barrel selection of the best estate fruit, named after one of Veronique’s children) was the highest-scoring 2007 Oregon Pinot in Burghound:
Burghound (Allen Meadows): “($65); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”
Please limit order requests to 4 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wine should arrive at the warehouse in about a week, at which point it will be available for pickup or shipping during the autumn shipping window.