The 45th parallel is a latitudinal ring around the planet, that is 45 degrees north of the Equator, which encircles the midpoint of the sphere on which we all live. It crosses a slew of continents, countries and oceans – and the Burgundy region of France happens to be smack in the midst of it – as is Oregon’s Willamette Valley. In those two regions lie some of the most glorious and highly regarded wineries in the world – turning out mainly Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
This month, the French Winophiles, a group of fun-loving, French-obsessed wine writers, are taking a unique look at two of the wineries that have a foothold in both regions: Domaine Drouhin, in Willamette Valley and Maison Joseph Drouhin in Burgundy; and Resonance, a Willamette Valley winery owned by the famous Burgundian house, Louis Jadot. Fun, fun, fun!!!
I had the pleasure of visiting Domaine Drouhin in Willamette Valley in 2018, so I was super excited to get a sample of their 2017 Dundee Hills Laurène Pinot Noir. The winery sells their range of Oregon as well as a selection of the Joseph Drouhin wines from Burgundy. It’s really fun to taste Old World and New World Pinot Noir side by side!
New World Versus Old World
“New World” refers to wines made anywhere except Europe: the U.S. Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and so on. “Old World” refers to Europe – mainly France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Austria, Germany, etc. What’s the difference?
Old World Wines tend to be more terroir-driven and New World wines tend to be more fruit-driven. Another difference I’ve observed is that New World wines seem to feature the winemakers more prominently, promoting them as skilled artisans and scientists who are hand-crafting wines of great precision and style. With Old World wines, you often have no idea who the winemaker is! You may know the owner of the estate or the domaine, but the winemaker is there to take care of all the steps in the winemaking process without calling attention to him or herself. It’s a cultural thing.
Grapes Love the 45th Parallel
So what is it about 45 degrees north of the equator? Not only is Burgundy within it, and Oregon’s Willamette Valley, but also Italy’s Piedmont region, the Rhône Valley and Bordeaux region in France and the Leelanau Peninsula in Michigan (think Traverse City, where Mawby and other wineries are turning out some impressive wines, both still and sparkling). But just being within that band does not guarantee great grapes or wonderful wines. There is climate, elevation and soil types to consider, among other things. But the 45th Parallel does seem to encompass a fairly temperate region in which to grow grapes and make wines.
The Domaine Drouhin Laurène 2017 Pinot Noir ($75 SRP) is a beauty! There’s a gush of fresh black cherry on the nose, followed by a bouquet of bright white mushrooms with a little mocha in the background. It tastes like a party full of bright ripe cherries dancing with a basket of dried fall leaves and they just ordered the sautéed mushrooms – crazy-delicious! As a good Pinot Noir does, it’s got gentle tannins and zesty acidity. This is a baby, at only three years old – drinking beautifully now – but it could age for 10 or more years for sure. 14% ABV.
Winemaker Veronique Boss-Drouhin names her wines after her children, and this one is named after her 17-year-old daughter, Laurène. The 2017 vintage is the 26th release of this wine and accordingly to Veronique, it will happily age for 8-10 years.
What to Pair it With?
I’ll come clean – I wanted to make roasted salmon with a ginger-soy glaze – which would be freaking delicious with this wine. Alas …. I ended up pairing it with – get ready – left-over Spanish Paella. Now before you go, “Oh, Jeez … Liz, come on!” let me say this: it worked perfectly! The paella was stuffed with saffron and other mild spices and loaded with chorizo, shrimp, clams and chicken. Who knew that a juicy Dundee Hills Pinot Noir would be such a smashing choice with paella? So there you have it!
It would also be divine with a pulled pork sandwich, anything with barbecue sauce, really. And the afore-mentioned salmon. It would also work with a classic roasted chicken.
French Soul on Two Soils
Domaine Drouhin in Oregon was founded in 1987, 107 years after Joseph Drouhin moved to Beaune, in Burgundy, from Chablis (also in Burgundy but further north). Domaine Drouhin sits high up on a ridge in the Dundee Hills appellation of Willamette Valley, commanding sweeping views of the valley. Of the 235-acre estate, 124 acres are planted to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Veronique Boss-Drouhin makes all the wines here, using neutral and a small amount of new French oak for aging.
Like their compatriots down the road, Resonance, which is owned by the Jadot family, the French influence comes to play in the winemaking at Domaine Drouhin. The climate and soils of the Willamette Valley differ from Burgundy, but careful harvesting by hand and restraint in the use of oak puts a French imprint on these wines.
Take a look below for more articles exploring Bourgogne-influenced Oregon from the French Winophiles. And feel free to join our chat on Saturday, Dec. 19 10-11am CST on Twitter at #Winophiles. We’d love to hear your thoughts!
- Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm tells of Countries United Through Food and Wine.
- Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla matches Galette au Chou + 2017 Résonance Pinot Noir.
- Terri at Our Good Life pairs Resonance Pinot Noir and Roasted Pork Loin.
- Lynn from Savor the Harvest posts Oregon Pinot Noir With a Burgundian Heart – Domaine Drouhin Laurène.
- Jennifer at Vino Travels cooks up BBQ Brisket with Domaine
Drouhin Pinot Noir.
- Linda at My Full Wine Glass shares Oregon PN for a PNW Holiday Meal.
- Robin from Crushed Grape Chronicles has a discovery: Découverte! Pinot Noir from Oregon’s Dundee Hills and Mediterranean Salmon.
- David from Cooking Chat posts Braised Moroccan Chicken Thighs with Oregon Pinot.
- Jane from Always Ravenous offers an Oregon Pinot Noir Paired with Braised Chicken Thighs, Blackberries, and Fennel Purée.
- Melanie from Wining With Mel writes New World meets Old World: Oregon’s Résonance Pinot Noir Paired with Beef Bourguignon.
- Liz from What’s In That Bottle gives us a Taste of the 45th Parallel.
- Jeff from Food Wine Click! tells us about Louis Jadot on
Both Sides of the Pond.
- Payal from Keep the Peas offers Burgundy via Oregon.
- Nicole at Somm’s Table has a Burgundy vs. Oregon Showdown with Drouhin Wines.
- Jill at L’Occasion covers Bourgogne’s Western Vineyards: Crafting Pinot Noir in Oregon.
- L.M. Archer shares life À Table with Domaine Drouhin Oregon and Résonance Wines.
- Gwendolyn from Wine Predator shares From France’s Bourgogne and Oregon’s Willamette Valley: Domaine Drouhin Does Pinot Noir