Joseph Drouhin Chassagne-Montrachet 2015 and Domaine Drouhin Dundee Hills Oregon Pinot Noir 2015
We are often asked where the best Pinot Noir in the US comes from, and although on a bottle to bottle basis it is hard to pinpoint a single location, one can look at all of the French families and wineries who have bought vineyards and built wineries in Oregon to realize that it has the greatest potential. Meanwhil back in Burgundy, a handful of villages in the Cote d’Or vie for the honor of producing the world’s finest Chardonnay, including Chassagne-Montrachet, Puligny-Montrachet and Mersault. On a recent evening, with just the faintest chill of late summer in the air, we realized we needed a white wine and a red wine to pour at dinner, and we each picked a bottle to complement our meal. We chose independently, but we wound up with two siblings grown on opposite sides of the world, Joseph Drouhin Chassagne Montrachet 2015 and Domaine Drouhin Dundee Hills Oregon Pinot Noir 2015. We started our meal with the luscious Chardonnay and then continued with the richly textured Pinot Noir.
Maison Joseph Drouhin is housed in some of Beaune's most historic buildings, including a 12th century winery, cellars belonging to the Dukes of Bourgogne and the Kings of France ranging from the 12th to 18th centuries, and the Dukes of Bourgogne Parliament Building. Founded in 1880 by Joseph Drouhin, the domain’s vineyards are all farmed using only organic or biodynamic techniques. One of Burgundy’s most well-known houses, the Drouhin family made their first foray into Oregon in the late 1980s after Joseph’s grandson Robert realized that Oregon offered climate and terroir that are ideal for growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Since 1988 Domaine Drouhin has been making wine here under the stewardship of Veronique Drouhin and her brother Philippe, the great-grandchildren of Joseph.
The juxtaposition of a wine from Burgundy and one from Oregon from two arms of the same family gave us an opportunity to discuss the differences between Oregon and Burgundy. The Chassagne-Montrachet was everything we expected in a fine Burgundy, while the Pinot Noir featured an intensity that we both found to be more concentrated and “New World” in style than we would have envisioned in a wine from Burgundy. That said, both wines showed extremely well and our only consolation when the bottles were empty is that we and our friends had enjoyed them so much.
Joseph Drouhin Chassagne Montrachet 2015 offers a bouquet of lemon curd and butterscotch with a touch of gunpowder. It is round on the palate, with flavors of quince, kumquat, pear, white chocolate and marzipan, with a bright, fruit-filled finish.
Domaine Drouhin Dundee Hills Oregon Pinot Noir 2015 has a nose of black cherry with a touch of tar. Soft tannins provide a backdrop for flavors of blackberry, cranberry, pomegranate and cherry cola with a hint of crushed violet candies. The finish offers a burst of ripe strawberry with a distinct note of saline.