A taste of both worlds: The DDO Experience

Travel – A verb that has been dreamt of by many this 2020.

Now that we are in this pandemic, we have to be creative and as wine-lovers say it (as I would say it J), travel with your mouth wide-open; drink a glass of wine and you can see places. Now, is your glass ready?

French Soul, Oregon Soil – a catch phrase that instantly ignited my curiosity in the Drouhin line. 

How will the Old World reconnect with the new? 

Oregon, a travelers nook for all things artistic and new, a place I luckily got to visit exactly a year ago.  Aside from the deep forests of Forks City that The Twilight Saga showed us, this Beaver State has a whole lot more to offer.  Coming from the city center of Portland, it will only take you around 45mins to journey on a different sight, a visit to the state’s wine haven.

Circling back to French Soul, Oregon Soil; The Drouhin Family name is one of the most renowned and respected in Burgundy where their wines flourished in perfecting the precious Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays for more than a century now.  In the 1960s, Robert Drouhin visited the west coast and found Oregon impressive with its natural beauty, considering the fact that there wasn’t a vineyard in sight, yet.  Come 1979, during The Gault-Millau Wine Olympiad; he became even more intrigued when an Oregon wine – The 1975 South Block Reserve from the Eyrie Vineyard ranked in the Top 10 of Pinot Noirs.  With this amusement, he re-staged the tasting in his own cellar to try and digest the New World competition, and again; the same wine placed 2nd and very close to the 1959 Drouhin Chambolle Musigny.  A decade after, that curiosity became a reality as they took on a piece of land in Dundee Hills with Robert’s daughter Veronique Drouhin.  Being a distinguished winery in France, Oregon saw it as a milestone to have the family estate – setting the region in an international spotlight.  By the early 90s, DDO – Domaine Drouhin Oregon made its debut as they released their very first – The 1988 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Pinot Noir which was said to have aged beautifully and still very much drinkable today.

Having a wealthy history such as this, it made me wonder even more; what did the The Legendary Robert Drouhin see and tasted that made him choose this land?  Why Oregon?

Part of the DO Experience is going around the vineyard, looking at the jewels up close and personal, meaning… tasting the grapes!  Our dear friend from DDO, Ashley Bell guided us in the wonderful journey — my favorite, tasting the real fruit even before it becomes the magical potion.  Pinot noir grapes are notoriously difficult to grow due to its thin skin, but if done properly, you will have a mighty elegant wine that will keep you salivating after every sip.  I remember it so well; the skin is not so tannic and thin, it’s like munching on a peach.  The juice? – it was heavenly sweet and has that balance of acidity; the kind of sweetness that is just right for you to keep on wanting more.  In the vineyard, our guide showed us the spectrum of DDO terroir; how the soil is, the climate, water, everything.  What fascinated me even more is them being a sustainable vineyard, in simple terms – they make their wine naturally with gentle treatment and very minimal manipulation, making their wines true to the fruit and at the same time has that same respect to the environment.  For me, making wines in this fashion is very important, nature has its way of giving back and as long as we take care of it as much as we can, it will give back threefold.

Upon entering the cellar, you will see huge barrels which has its own history.  Each barrel was carefully chosen and shipped from Beaune, Burgundy.  These oak containers undergo a tight selection from Maison Joseph Drouhin — specifics such as selected trees, 4 year natural outdoor drying, lightly toasted etc.  See how keen they are with details? 

Last and definitely not the least, we reached the tasting room. 

Here we tasted 6 wines –2 whites and 4 reds where we got to do a side by side with a Maison Joseph Drouhin and Domaine Drouhin Oregon.

At this point I can go on and on with the purity and elegance in each glass, but I have 2 that stood out most: Pinot Noir Laurène 2017 and Édition Limitée Pinot Noir 2017.

Pinot Noir Laurène 2017 – named after Veronique’s daughter – Laurène, DDO Flagship bottle.

In the nose, red and black cherries, a little spice – in between Nutmeg and Cinnamon plus some herbs like sage.  On the palate, you can feel the precision of its tannins which makes it silky and luxurious, just how Burgundians do it; fresh acidity slices through it which makes it even more tasty and balanced.

Édition Limitée Pinot Noir 2017 – (only 249 Cases Produced)This wine is sexy (if that makes sense), the nose is a marriage of blueberry and spices; gives you that sultry feel in the palate, layers and layers of ripe fruits with the right amount of tannins.  This bottle will for sure age well!  (Honestly trying my very best to make it last in my cellar for a few more years before I pop it open.)

Experiencing the DDO vineyard first hand, I can now say, the Burgundians chose well!  They have successfully created a gorgeous collision of the two wine worlds.  Props to the team of DDO for making this possible, Ashley Bell, CSW — Director of Sales & Education, Domaine Drouhin Oregon and David Millan, Managing Director, Domaine Drouhin Oregon.  ‘Til we meet again!

Travel with your mouth wide open!  Cheers!

Joey Lucio

Wineyards: Away in Alsace

Alsace is probably not on anyone’s top 3 places to visit in France unless you are into wine. But having been within the vicinity, with a wine region on my bucket list on almost any trip to Europe, we allowed ourselves to be charmed by this quaint little town.

Some may know Alsace to be the inspiration for the village Belle grew up in in Beauty and the Beast. Its brightly painted half-timbered houses throughout definitely made it a very beautiful place to get lost in. Vibrant blue, yellow, and pink houses line cobblestone streets, creating a maze perfect for dodging dudes like Gaston. 

The history of Alsace, however, is what’s most interesting (next to its wine). The French-German border moved back and forth making Alsace a territory of both countries at different points in history. One can see very strong influences of both very distinct countries in the food, the street and town names as well as commonalities in wine styles, grape varietals and even the shape of their wine bottles.

Trivia: The flute bottle shape is quite unique to Germanic and Alsatian wines as they travelled on the gentle rivers of the Rhine on smooth sailing barges. While Burgundian wines, on the other hand, needed a sturdier bottle with a large punt (indentation at the bottom) since they traveled a rougher road by horse and cart.

Alsace is home to many iconic wine producers. I wish I had more days to spend to visit more, though I was very fortunate to be able to visit Josmeyer. I was accommodated by Celine herself, despite her busy schedule as it was the harvest season when I was there.

Domaine Josmeyer is a 5th generation wine family. The family’s existence in the wine world dates back to 1854 when Aloyse Meyer joined his father as a négociant. His son, Joseph Meyer was considered one of the elites in wine at the time. He had a passion for and was an ardent promoter of quality wines. Hubert Meyer is the first winemaker of the family. It was he who created the brand JOSMEYER, taking the first three letters from his father’s name. In 1966, Jean took over the business. He was the chief winemaker and also handled the export markets.

Today, his two daughters, Celine and Isabelle run the show, with the former handling the business as the CEO and the latter in charge of wine production. Isabelle is also quite an artist herself, taking charge of the designs of the labels as well as using her skills to illustrate the biodynamic phases on the barrels.

Josmeyer practices a fully organic and biodynamic culture. They believe that this alternative route, though more demanding and expensive than conventional viticulture, allows man to work in harmony with the sky, the earth and the vines. They believe that this close relationship allows the grapes to be the best representation of their terroir.

This region is world-famous for their aromatic white wines. From the floral bouquet and mildly syrupy Gewurtraminer, to the crisp and versatile Riesling, late harvest or not, Alsatian wines can be enjoyed young and fresh or with some noticeable age that only brings about a more layered complexity. If you’re into spicy food or specifically Thai food, try it next time with wines from Alsace. The aromatic, off-dry tendencies of these wines give off a cooling effect on spicy food.

So if you’re hankering for a trip to France to walk in Belle’s footsteps or maybe because COVID has us all dreaming of better days, or just simply enjoy a good glass of white wine that isn’t sauvignon blanc or chardonnay for a change, take a risk on this and get away with Alsace.

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