About this WINE
While similarities might be drawn between Califonia and Bordeaux, Oregon is very much the American equivalent of Burgundy, with only 5,500 hectares planted in 2004. Since the 1960s a plethora of small growers have shunned the sun further south for the often damp, cool climate west of the Cascade Mountains, seeking out propitious sites to plant their beloved Pinot Noir among the 150-mile Willamette Valley AVA.
Pinot Gris has also taken hold of this corner of the Pacific Northwest; Chardonnay has been less successful due to inappropriate clonal selection. Domaine Drouhin Oregon is arguably the region's top producer, with most of the wine from this region swallowed up by the thirsty North American market.
Pinot Noir is probably the most frustrating, and at times infuriating, wine grape in the world. However when it is successful, it can produce some of the most sublime wines known to man. This thin-skinned grape which grows in small, tight bunches performs well on well-drained, deepish limestone based subsoils as are found on Burgundy's Côte d'Or.
Pinot Noir is more susceptible than other varieties to over cropping - concentration and varietal character disappear rapidly if yields are excessive and yields as little as 25hl/ha are the norm for some climats of the Côte d`Or.
Because of the thinness of the skins, Pinot Noir wines are lighter in colour, body and tannins. However the best wines have grip, complexity and an intensity of fruit seldom found in wine from other grapes. Young Pinot Noir can smell almost sweet, redolent with freshly crushed raspberries, cherries and redcurrants. When mature, the best wines develop a sensuous, silky mouth feel with the fruit flavours deepening and gamey "sous-bois" nuances emerging.
The best examples are still found in Burgundy, although Pinot Noir`s key role in Champagne should not be forgotten. It is grown throughout the world with notable success in the Carneros and Russian River Valley districts of California, and the Martinborough and Central Otago regions of New Zealand.