- Rating: 91 out of 100
- Tasting Fee: $15 or Free with 3-Bottle Purchase
- Accepts Reservations: Yes
- Reservation Required: true
Dayton, OR 97114
Starting a new winery is hard. There are so many things to do on the operations side such as clearing out the field, adjusting the soil, planting and caring for the vines, etc. But just as important as making the product is building a brand and fostering a consumer base that will purchase your product. This is even harder when you are entering an established market like Willamette Valley. Thankfully for Domaine Drouhin, they had the branding piece covered already when they established the winery in 1987 and have continued to add to their reputation and legacy from Burgundy.
I visited their tasting room in Beaune, France (capital of the Burgundy area) last year and had a great time. Their Clos de la Roche Grand Cru from a magnum was crazy good, but more on that in its own review, haha. Needless to say, I left impressed with their wines. So when I heard that they had a sister winery in Willamette, you know I had to visit. I didn’t quite know what to expect as I was driving to the vineyard. But when I saw the winery, I just shook my head and told myself “of course it would be like this”.
Owner of 225 acres in the heart of the Dundee Hills area, the winery itself is surrounded by seemingly endless rows of vines with no other structures in sight besides the road you took. Inside, the place was packed with people. Many picking up their bottle allocations, many there to sample the wines, and more people than I expected just enjoying a day at the vineyard with their family. The wines themselves were an interesting mix of new world power with old world flavor profiles and acidity. This tasting was right after lunch, so my palate was a little off-center, but I would firmly place the tasting in the good category. The tasting consisted of the following wines:
- 2015 DDO Chardonnay Arthur ($35)
- The white flowers, balanced body and solid acidity reminded me of Burgundian whites, but the fruit profile was definitely riper (e.g. stonefruit) than what you would find at their French estate. Not too over-the-top, this is a nice Chardonnay to casually drink.
- 2015 Roserock Pinot Noir ($35)
- The Roserock covered a higher range of flavors than I normally encounter at this price point in America, meaning you can drink this young or let it evolve a bit with a few years of aging. Though I wouldn’t wait more than 3 or so. Balanced with structure and levity.
- 2015 DDO Pinot Noir Dundee Hills ($45)
- There is a noticeable difference of structure and intensity between the Roserock and DDO Dundee Hills. More red fruit here that is still young in the bottle, balanced, and a noticeably longer finish. Some wood spice character is also starting to come out - you can age this for 5 years if you wanted.
- 2015 Roserock Zephirine ($60)
- While the previous wines focused on the balance and fruit, the Zephirine takes you on a bit of a turn towards more complexity, particularly terroir driven notes (more vivid floral notes, lighter red fruit, but some wood spice and just a hint of cacao. This can age even longer than the Dundee Hills (up to 8-10).
- 2015 DDO Pinot Noir Laurene ($70)
- This is where the complexity hits its peak in the tasting. To the floral, light red fruit, and light spice character, now add riper fruit (e.g. Cherry) and more dusty character from the terroir. This felt like the best expression of French and Oregon flavors and concepts of the bunch.
Speaking of their French roots, if I my schedule had allowed, I would’ve really liked to have done the “French Soul, Oregon Soil” tasting ($40) instead. Conducted only at 10AM, they taste wines from their French and Oregon Estates to compare and contrast the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir flavors and characteristics. Looking back at the tastings, I personally still prefer their French wine - there’s just a level of nuance they achieve with those wines that make them that much more cerebral and enjoyable.
I think the $15 fee is very reasonable - The membership pricing and benefits (20% off or free shipping on 6 or more bottles for new memeber) are also pretty solid. I did not bring back any bottles with me since there are so many good wineries in the area and my luggage was only so big. However, I encourage you to put this place in your Top 5 of wineries to visit when in the region. They definitely provide a unique perspective of the terroir in the area and the views are too good to ignore. Just be prepared to wade through a mass of humanity on the weekend, haha. Cheers!
Rating: 91 out of 100