Twenty-five years ago, it was a coup for Oregon to attract the Drouhins, the historic Burgundian winemaking family, to the Dundee Hills. Oregon’s Pinot Noir star was rising, and nothing on earth affects star quality like a little royalty! The Drouhin’s first Oregon wine was produced in 1988 and, happily, the Drouhin project roars ahead today—still turning out lovely Oregon Pinot Noir that may have a little more Old World elegance than other Oregon Pinots do. Take this wine, from 2012: a beautifully calibrated in-betweener, with some of the smack of New World fruit, but some of the restrained principles of Pinot Noir from Burgundy. Medium-toned garnet-purple (neither too dark or too light). Sexy, multi-level Pinot nose: berry fruit, coffee and chocolate, Christmas spices, stewed beets. Rather broad and sweet on entry, but then morphs into a suave, drier kind of creation in mid-palate. The finish, unfortunately, is harassed by a little heat (there’s 14.1% alcohol in the wine)—but the glow is wrapped around a flavoury nugget of ineffable Pinot taste. Put all the parts back together, and you’ve got a lively, mostly elegant swallow, lovely for wintry dinners.
It has a little too much fruit for the rare meats of the world, but find any excuse to overcook your red meat (a braise, a stew, etc.) and it’s Drouhin time. Also wonderful for the right kind of room-temp starter food, such as salumi, charcuterie, and hard cheeses (try Grana Padano!).