After another successful i4C (Cool Climate Chardonnay) celebration, I started to reminisce about my winemaker interviews from the 2016 lineup.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Arron Bell, the winemaker of Domaine Drouhin, a winery in the cool climate region of Willamette, Oregon.
The most popular varietals produced in Oregon include Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Riesling. We recognize most of these varietals for their ability to grow well in cooler climates. Oregon produces incredible expressions of these varietals, two of which I had the pleasure of tasting with Arron.
Video: Meet Arron Bell
“I didn’t know what to do after college. So what do you do? You make wine.”
The most popular wines from Domaine Drouhin here in our Ontario market include Cloudline Pinot Gris and Cloudline Pinot Noir. The Cloudline brand is produced exclusively for our Canadian market and was first produced in 2002. Both of these wines are available now in vintages as well as in the SAQ.
Much like a lot of the wineries in Oregon, Domaine Drouhin believes in the “family approach to wine” with winemaking roots that extend through their family history. This is also why Burgundy remains an inspiration for the family.
The vineyards of Domaine Drouhin are “densely planted, farmed sustainably and entirely harvested by hand”. Care for the land, meticulous attention to detail in the vineyards and quality-focussed production at the winery all contribute to the value of these wines.
2014 Cloudline Pinot Gris
Only 1000 cases of this wine produced.
This wine is fermented in stainless steel, which has contributed to the fresh and stony notes that carry through to this wine’s palate. With citrus on the nose, you begin salivating before you even taste. Extremely clean and austere. This wine has a spicy note attributed to the Pinot Gris grape that helps broaden the palate. The mid-palate glycerol texture and weight continues through to the fresh finish.
This wine usually retails for $19.75 at the LCBO, but is currently sold out.
2014 Cloudline Pinot Noir
2014 was a great winemaking year in Oregon and a lot of the Pinots I’ve had from this vintage tend to be deep in colour and bigger than usual because of the longer growing season and dry/warm summer.
Approximately 20% of this wine was aged in oak barrel, 10% being new French oak for approximately 9 months.
On the nose, bright cherry, indicative of cool climate Pinot with added notes of violet and bramble. On the palate, ripe red fruit with a great backbone from the natural acidity and soft tannin. This wine finishes long and absolutely over-delivers on quality.
For a retail price of $29.95, this wine offers incredible value. I often say it can be tough to find well-made Pinot Noir for less than $30 and in this case, Domaine Drouhin is reaching beyond and delivering a great product worth every penny.
Video: Arron speaks about Cloudline, climate and vintage variance in Oregon.
“If you made bad Pinot Noir in 2014, you should get a different job”.
Arron confirms this thought as he humbly notes that the main strategy they follow at Domaine Drouhin will remain to focus on the land and always over-deliver. Cloudline is an introduction to great value, quality Oregon wine.
Domaine Drouhin also has some of their premium wines in our market, which you absolutely should check out if you get the chance.