Domaine Drouhin Oregon Laurene Pinot Noir 2011
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Established in 1987, Domaine Drouhin Oregon is owned by famed Burgundy producer, Maison Joseph Drouhin. Hand-crafted by fourth generation winemaker, Veronique Drouhin-Boss, the distinctive Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays of Domaine Drouhin are prized for their elegance, balance and finesse, as well as their ability to age. Philippe Drouhin, Veronique's brother, is in charge of viticulture and has earned an international reputation for his work both in Burgundy and Oregon. Ninety acres of the 225-acre estate are now planted, with over 3100 vines per acre. Domaine Drouhin Oregon's landmark 4-level gravity flow winery is nestled into the heart of the Dundee Hills.
Home of the first Pinot noir vineyard of the Willamette Valley, planted by David Lett of Eyrie Vineyard in 1966, today the Dundee Hills AVA remains the most densely planted AVA in the valley (and state). To its north sits the Chehalem Valley and to its south, runs the Willamette River. Within the region’s 12,500 acres, about 1,700 are planted to vine on predominantly basalt-based, volcanic, Jory soil.
One of the most finicky yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is a labor of love for many. However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. In fact, it is the only red variety permitted in Burgundy. Highly reflective of its terroir, Pinot Noir prefers calcareous soils and a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality and demands a lot of attention in the vineyard and winery. It retains even more glory as an important component of Champagne as well as on its own in France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions. This sensational grape enjoys immense international success, most notably growing in Oregon, California and New Zealand with smaller amounts in Chile, Germany (as Spätburgunder) and Italy (as Pinot Nero).
In the Glass
Pinot Noir is all about red fruit—strawberry, raspberry and cherry with some heftier styles delving into the red or purple plum and in the other direction, red or orange citrus. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and a lively acidity. With age (of which the best examples can handle an astounding amount) it can develop hauntingly alluring characteristics of fresh earth, savory spice, dried fruit and truffles.
Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of pink-fleshed fish like salmon and tuna but its mild mannered tannins give it enough structure to pair with all sorts of poultry: chicken, quail and especially duck. As the namesake wine of Boeuf Bourguignon, Pinot noir has proven it isn’t afraid of beef. California examples work splendidly well with barbecue and Pinot Noir is also vegetarian-friendly—most notably with any dish that features mushrooms.
For administrative purposes, the region of Beaujolais is often included in Burgundy. But it is extremely different in terms of topography, soil and climate, and the important red grape here is ultimately Gamay, not Pinot noir. Truth be told, there is a tiny amount of Gamay sprinkled around the outlying parts of Burgundy (mainly in Maconnais) but it isn’t allowed with any great significance and certainly not in any Village or Cru level wines. So "red Burgundy" still necessarily refers to Pinot noir.