2010 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Pinot Noir Willamette Valley

Hello friends. One of the great thrills of attending Oregon Pinot Camp – hell, one of the great thrills of my wine-trade life! – was meeting Veronique Drouhin of Domaine Drouhin Oregon (see picture, taken from the top of DDO’s vineyards; Veronique is front and center with the purple name-tag; I’m looming behind her). Her home base these days is in Beaune, but she is in Oregon on a regular basis, especially around harvest time (now).

Veronique mentioned that her father also still comes to Oregon during harvest time on a regular basis. It’s clear that the family has a deeply-rooted connection to the Willamette Valley. It’s a second home to them, and many of the other long-time winemakers in the valley seem like extended Drouhin family members.

I won’t rehash the entire story of DDO here (see our inaugural DDO offering for those details), but suffice it to say that making wine in Oregon was still a pretty risky proposition in 1987, and for the young Veronique to eschew the clear path leading to a career in Burgundy, and to instead farm wine grapes on a converted Christmas tree orchard in the Dundee Hills, well, that should give you a sense of the woman’s character.

She is among the most charming winemakers I have ever met (and no, it’s not just the accent). Funny and self-effacing, with a sense of radiating warmth, she lights up whatever crowd she’s in. And really, that class and charm extend to the entire DDO family.  I had a chance to chat more with David Millman, DDO’s fascinating GM, who left a 20-year career in the SoCal music business to join the winery, and to get to know Arron Bell, DDO’s Assistant Winemaker, who takes care of things while Veronique is in France. The clear vibe coming from both men, and from DDO generally, is the humble pursuit of excellence.

I have mentioned several times that the story of 2010 in Oregon is excellent quality and low yields, which means the best wines will not be around for long. So let’s keep jumping on these 2010s as they’re released.

This is a ringing bell of purity and clarity. It’s so very Pinot Noir, so very Willamette, with its mix of bright red fruit (pomegranate, pie cherry) and flowers and underbrush. This was allowed to hang for a very long time by Oregon standards (picking began on October 18 and wrapped up on October 27), and it provides terrific fruit intensity at moderate alcohol levels (and low new oak; 20%). A fine vin de soif now, this is utterly refreshing and provides a versatile counterpoint to all manner of food. It ought to make appearances on Thanksgiving tables across the Pacific Northwest. As it ages, I’d expect it to pick up more earthy subtlety and nuance. Veronique has a proven track record of crafting long-lived Pinots, and this should be no different.

First come first served up to 12 bottles, and the wine should arrive in about a week, at which point it will be available for pickup or shipping during the autumn shipping window.

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