2007 Domaine Drouhin, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Domaine Drouhin is an icon among Oregon Pinot Noir producers. Its pedigree goes directly back to Burgundy, the ancestral home to the Pinot Noir grape, and home of Maison Joseph Drouhin in Beaune. The story of how the family came to produce wines in Oregon from native Burgundian grapes is long and fascinating. In short: after visiting the west coast and sensing the promise of producing great Pinot Noir in Oregon, the Drouhin family decided to buy a site in the Red Hills of Dundee, finding it remarkably similar in climate, latitude and aspect to the best vineyards of Burgundy. Soon after, daughter Vèronique Drouhin-Boss relocated to Oregon and became winemaker at their new family venture. This commitment, from such a respected Burgundy producer, provided serious validation of Oregon’s potential as a wine region. Vèronique, who got her degree in enology from the University of Dijon, represents the fourth generation of Drouhin winemakers, and has produced every drop of Domaine Drouhin wine in Oregon since the first vintage, in 1988. Her wines have always been known for their elegance, finesse, purity, and their ability to age gracefully. The 2007 Willamette Valley Pinot is beautifully structured and balanced, with lots of spice and red fruit. It will age for at least five to eight years, but is delicious now. For a change from salmon, try this one with fowl, or lamb chops with wild mushrooms. It is $45.
2006 Amalie Robert, Dijon Clones Pinot Noir
From long-time stalwart to a relative newcomer: Amalie Robert is a young winery, whose first vines were planted on Earth Day, 2000, after the new owners finished clearing away the cherry orchards that had covered the property up until then. The winery was the dream of Ernie Pink and Dena Drews, both émigrés of the high tech corporate world, and is located in the central Willamette Valley, about fifteen miles southwest of Salem. Ernie and Dena have been passionate about responsible farming practices from the beginning. Their estate is completely dry-farmed and their website notes, “Ernie manages the vineyard, but Mother Nature handles the irrigation program.” The quality of their fruit quickly gained the respect of other, more established local winemakers, who bought grapes from Ernie and Dena for their own wines. Now the two are fully up and running and producing their own estate wines. This 2006 Pinot Noir is a blend of five different Dijon clones, each of which contributes its own unique character to the final blend. It is rich and warm, with great complexity and expressiveness. Ernie suggests pairing it with roast duck. It’s $34.