Tag: Oregon Pinot Noir

Feb 02 2014

Oregon’s Domaine Drouhin Laurène Pinot Noir 1997 – A Testament to the Cellaring Potential of New World Pinot Noir!

Posted on February 02, 2014 | By merrill@cellarit.com

At a dinner party on Saturday night I enjoyed an extraordinary wine. It was the Domaine Drouhin’s Laurène 1997 – a pinot noir from the Burgundian family’s Dundee Hills vineyards in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

The Drouhin family has been making wine in Burgundy since 1880 and in Oregon since the late 1980s. Interestingly Robert Drouhin first “discovered” Oregon as early as 1961. His interest, however, was really piqued in 1980 after David Lett’s 1975 Eyrie South Block Reserve Pinot Noir placed second in a competition organised by Drouhin at Maison Joseph Drouhin in Beaune.

Robert’s daughter, Véronique Drouhin-Boss, worked harvest with three of Willamette Valley’s founding families – the Letts, the Casteels (Bethel Heights) and the Adelsheims (Adelsheim Vineyards) – before taking charge of winemaking at the Oregon winery in 1987. Her brother, Philippe, is in charge of viticulture. The Laurène, named after Véronique’s daughter, is a reserve bottling from specially selected barrels.

The Burgundian character of the Laurène was striking, especially since on the same night I had the unique opportunity to compare it to the Joseph Drouhin Chambolle-Musigny 1999.  (By the way, all wines that night were matched with exquisite Japanese cusine).

The Chambolle Musigny 1999 was more highly perfumed than the 1997 Laurène, but the Laurène’s silky texture, complex flavour profile and remarkable freshness were a revelation.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI couldn’t find a tasting note for the 1997 Laurène, but the Wine Spectator’s Harvey Steiman suggested a drinking window out to 2006 for the 1996. Perhaps another example of how critics have underestimated the ageing potential of New World pinot noirs? (see my post, Cellaring Australian Pinot Noir: How Long Do They Last?)

In a very interesting article, Profiles in Pinot Noir: Domaine Drouhin, Steiman explains that the Drouhins brought a fresh … Read the rest

Sep 09 2012

New Zealand Pinot Noir: What Sets it Apart?

Posted on September 09, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

I was intrigued to read Lettie Teague’s recent article in the Wall Street Journal entitled What Happened to New Zealand Pinot Noir? Fortunately, the article was not about a decline in the quality of New Zealand pinot noir, but rather a lament about its disappearance from the shelves of many American wine stores. Teague cited a few reasons that I’m sure would also ring a bell with Australian wineries: not enough distributors, an unfavourable exchange rate and poor brand recognition. (WSJ, 1 September 2012)

Teague also shared Felton Road‘s head winemaker Blair Walter’s comment that “The USA is about the only place where New Zealand Pinot competes directly with the other New World Pinots.” He noted that in other markets New Zealand pinot noir is second only to Burgundy since most U.S. pinot makers don’t export their wines.

Teague interviewed an Oregon wine buyer, Mike Dietrich, who happens to love New Zealand pinot noir and has managed to put together a reasonable selection for the Fred Meyer store in Tualatin, Oregon. He believes that New Zealand and Oregon pinot noir have a lot in common: “Oregon and New Zealand Pinots are less about fruit and more about earth and minerals,” he told Teague. “There’s an earthy complexity to the wines—they’re not just fruit-forward like California Pinots.”

While Teague was less than impressed with lower price point New Zealand pinot noir (around $20 a bottle), she believes that the higher priced wines express a uniquely New Zealand point of view: “The Pinots from producers such as Ata Rangi, Felton Road, Craggy Range and Greywacke were quite good. Some, particularly the Felton Road and Ata Rangi, were truly impressive, marked by dense, dark fruit, firm minerality and a pleasing savory quality. But as Mr. Dietrich had noted, ‘fruit-forward/ they were … Read the rest