Updated: Dec 9, 2020
On my latest visit to the Willamette Valley, I made it a point to swing by Domaine Drouhin, a producer entrenched in wine history. Joseph Drouhin moved from Chablis to Beaune in 1880 and founded Maison Joseph Drouhin. The Drouhin became well-known in the Burgundy region of France for being a negociant; the Drouhins purchased grapes from around the region and made wines (although the family now owns its own vineyards and makes its own wine, as well). One of Drouhin's White Burgundies was even selected to participate in the now famous 1976 "Judgment of Paris" that pitted California wines against their French counterparts.
When I arrived at the winery, I was greeted warmly and handed a glass of Rose of Pinot Noir, that was quite refreshing on this particularly hot summer morning. When all of the guests taking the 10:00 am tour arrived, our guide, Steve Krug (admittedly no relation to the Krug family in Champagne), took us outside to show off the steep hillside where the grapes were soaking in the sun. After answering questions, we moved back inside to look at the fermentation room and the barrel rooms before settling down into our seats for the "French Soul, Oregon Soil: Tour and Comparative Tasting." This tasting was of particular interest to me as it allows visitors to taste the Drouhin wines of Oregon side-by-side against those made in France.
The first comparison was the 2015 Drouhin Vaudon Chablis Secher, a Chablis Premier Cru from a vineyard adjacent to a Grand Cru vineyard in the area. I typically like my wines with a little less oak and a little more minerality, so this one was right up my alley. Alas, I was in the minority as everyone else preferred the Oregon Chardonnay, but this is to be expected. The Oregon style of Pinot and Chardonnay is more fruit-forward and less acid-driven than the French style, and more approachable to the masses. All-in-all, the tasting, which included cheese and crackers was well worth the visit. I met a nice couple from Baton Rouge and two girls on a road trip from Washington who seemed eager to learn. Our guide was very knowledgeable and approachable, without being pushy. When it was all said and done, I ended up bringing home a bottle of their Roserock Zepherine Pinot Noir that is from a Drouhin sister winery in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA of Oregon. If you have the time, I highly recommend booking this tasting experience next time you are in the Willamette Valley!