wine country, part 14
Domaine Drouhin Oregon
next stop was Domaine Drouhin Oregon, or DDO, as it is more commonly
known. It’s the west coast output of Burgundy’s top-performing
negociant, Joseph Drouhin. I
met with MD David Millman and cellarmaster Arron Bell. This was
certainly one of the most laid back winery visits I’ve ever had.
After a chat in the vineyard, we had a casual lunch (home-made BLT
sandwiches) in the winery with a few glasses of wine.
Drouhin’s head had been turned by the remarkable performance in a
blind Pinot Noir tasting of the 1975 Eyrie Vineyards South Block –
a result that brought the attention of the world to this relatively
new wine region.
in 1986 Robert's daughter Véronique did vintage with Adelsheim
Vineyards, Bethel Heights and Eyrie. Robert put the word out that he
was interested in doing something in Oregon, and in 1987 they were
alerted to a 225 acre estate with south-facing slopes that was
currently a cereal farm. They bought it.
first DDO vintage was 1988, made in rented premises, and that year
the first vineyards were planted with Pommard and Wadenswil clones
on the typical 7 foot wide row spacing. It was the following year
that serious planting was embarked on, however, and DDO decided to
do something quite different. They were the first in the USA to use
high density planting (1 m by 1.3 m = 3300 plants per acre), and
this was done on rootstock, which was unusual for Oregon. This was
prescient: two years later, phylloxera was discovered in Oregon.
1989 was also the year they built their purpose-built,
gravity flow winery. Digging was started in February, and vintage
was done here the same year.
is hand picked and hand sorted, if necessary. All the Pinot Noir is
destemmed. Probably the most high tech thing here is heating and
cooling. No enzymes are used and wild ferments are employed.
Two-thirds of the barrels are from Francois Freres. Drouhin in
Burgundy purchases the wood and season them for three years before
sending them to Francois Freres for barrel construction.
wines? They’re the real deal. They’re beautifully elegant, with
real freshness and focus, and from my relatively limited experience
with them the news is good: they seem to age pretty well.
Domaine Drouhin Oregon Arthur Chardonnay
2006 Dundee Hills
after Veronique Drouhin’s son; half aged in oak, half in stainless
steel. Lovely freshness with some toastiness. It’s nutty and crisp
on the palate with nice depth of flavour. Some creaminess to the
texture, too. A really sophisticated effort. 91/100
Domaine Drouhin Oregon Pinot Noir 2006
Light-ish colour. Lovely aromatic fresh cherry fruit nose: quite
sweet but with nice purity. The palate is fresh with a lovely
spiciness and some good structure. Lovely balance here between the
fruit, the savoury spiciness, and the acidity. 93/100
Domaine Drouhin Oregon Pinot Noir
‘Laurène’ 2005 Dundee Hills
A serious effort: structured and bold, yet refined. Lovely sweet
raspberry and cherry fruit aromas. Vibrant with lovely freshness.
The palate is vivid and juicy with lovely acidity and good
freshness. Structured and intense yet elegant at the same time.
Domaine Drouhin Oregon Pinot Noir
‘Laurène’ 2001 Dundee Hills
Beautifully sweet aromatic, pure red fruits on the nose with great
focus. The palate is smooth but structured with real presence and
lots of fruit. Refined and fruit driven with good acidity. This is a
superb wine that is ageing beautifully. 94/100
And tasted earlier in the week:
Domaine Drouhin Oregon Pinot Noir 1993
It’s amazing how well this Oregon Pinot is ageing. Elegant,
complex nose. The palate is fresh, vivid, spicy and beautifully
expressive with good structure. 95/100
Wines tasted 07/08
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