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Domaine Meriwether

Oregon Winery

Domaine Meriwether is an Oregon winery best known for their delicious sparkling wines. The wines are named after aspects of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, that famous early exploration of the Pacific Northwest sponsored by then President Thomas Jefferson in 1803. Domaine Meriwether's French winemaker, Jean-Louis Denois, has created five sparkling wines that are quite delicious and very reasonably priced, and the historical themes add interest and make great gifts, particularly to history buffs. The Domaine Meriwether Discovery Cuvee was served recently at the White House.

Domaine Meriwether was founded in 1998 with its first vintage and the carefully aged sparkling wines are just being released in late 2003. Production is still onlya about 500 cases a year, but will grow as the winery releases more vintage sparkling wine, as well as still wines. Pinot noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot gris are planned.


The Wines

1998 FORT CLATSOP CUVEE BLANC de BLANCS $21.00

This 100% Chardonnay wine was made because the winery had an excess of Chardonnay grapes in their first year of operation. Domaine Meriwether's French winemaker from Champagne, Jean-Louis Denois made this sparkling wine in limited quantities in 1998. It is just being released in late 2003. Fort Clatsop was the place where Lewis and Clark wintered during their expedition. Only 200 cases were made.

Two approaches were employed to achieve complexity in the final blended cuvee: first, site and clonal diversity was assured by making this wine from two clones (Draper and UCD 108) of hand-picked Chardonnay grapes purchased from five different growers; secondly, vinifying in small neutral oak barrels produces a slow and controlled oxidation which adds complexity and vinous flavor to the base wines during their 7-10 months in barrel.

Blend: Chardonnay 100%
Pressing: This wine is made from the first pressing (Cuvee) that contains the finest juice.
First fermentation: Each Cuvee lot is fermented separately in small, neutral oak barrels.
Aging after bottling: 4 years on the yeast.
Dosage: Light (4 gr/L)
Style: Round and rich with nuanced flavors.

Winemaker's Notes: "Color yellow strawÉ abundant foam that dissipates into a persisting crown. Impressive mousse with continuous stream of small fine bubbles. Aromas of tropical fruits with hints of butterscotch and apricot. Palatal impression is lively, fresh, round, and creamy. Flavor profile has hints of quince, spice and passion fruit ..."

Serving Suggestions: A fine aperitif. Also a remarkably compatible accompaniment to a variety of delicate food entrees such as salmon, most shellfish, Sushi and caviar. It also works well with chicken, quail, and veal.


1998 THOMAS JEFFERSON CUVEE PRESTIGE $24.00

This is Domaine Meriwether's top of the line cuvee, made from a selection of the best of Domaine Meriwether's wines. Thomas Jefferson is commemorated on the bottle's neck- it was Jefferson who initiated the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

The noted authority on Champagne Tom Stevenson has pointed out that the key to making a prestige cuvee that is the ultimate expression of the producer is "É selection, selection, selection É and a great winemaker"! Applying these guidelines in Oregon when the winery evaluated the sixteen different 1998 vintage base wines, single lots of Pinot Noir (Upright clone) and Chardonnay (UCD 108 and Draper clones) from Rebecca's Vineyard in Yoncalla, OR stood out because of their superior balance and structure. From these two selections, talented French winemaker from Champagne, Jean-Louis Denois, made a limited quantity (400 cases) of Prestige Cuvee. Slow controlled oxidation during barrel fermentation adds complexity to this remarkable first effort to demonstrate that Oregon can produce world-class Pinot Noir-based sparkling wines.

Blend: Pinot Noir 75%, Chardonnay 25%
Pressing: This wine is made from the finest first pressing Cuvee juice.
First fermentation: Each Cuvee lot is fermented in small, neutral oak barrels.
Aging after bottling: 4 years on the yeast.
Dosage: Light (3.5 gr/L)
Style: Rich, round and Pinot-Noir dominated.

Winemaker's Notes: "Color straw yellow É abundant foam that dissipates into a persisting crown. Stream of small fine bubbles is continuous. Complex aromas with hints of herbs, grass, caramel and toast. Palatal impression is full, round, rich, with good mid-palate expression of Chardonnay and structure of Pinot Noir in its length."

Serving Suggestions: A classic fine aperitif. Because of its Pinot Noir predominance, it can be enjoyed throughout meals. It works well with the same entrees that are accompanied by a Pinot Noir table wine such as lamb, chicken, quail, and veal.


1998 CAPTAIN WILLIAM CLARK CUVEE $20.00

Made from a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot noir cuvees, this wine shows off Domaine Meriwether's Champagne influence. Jean-Louis's origins show through with this sophisticated, creamy yet dry sparkler.

Captain William Clark, the red headed co-captain of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, was born in 1770 in the same area of Virginia as Lewis and Jefferson. While pursuing a career in the military, Ensign Merriwether Lewis served under him, and the men became friends. Clark was the expedition's cartographer, and was adept at communicating with the native tribes encountered on the journey. HIs long life included many journeys back to the wilderness as Superintendent of Indian Affairs, and he was active in politics and federal government throughout his career.


1998 OLIVIA'S CUVEE BRUT ROSE $30

Domaine Meriwether's French winemaker from Champagne, Jean-Louis Denois, made this remarkable Rose sparkling wine in limited quantities during Domaine Meriwether's first year of Methode Champenoise wine production in Oregon in1998. As done in many houses in Champagne (such as Gosset, de Cazenove, and Charbaut), this colored wine is made from white Chardonnay grapes purchased from four different growers. The Rose color was achieved by the addition of a small amount of our 1998 Dion Vineyard Pinot Noir table wine to the blended Cuvee base wines prior to bottling and secondary fermentation.

Blend: Chardonnay 100% (Draper and UCD 108 clones)
Pressing: This wine is made from the first pressing (Cuvee) that contains the finest juice.
First fermentation: Each Cuvee lot is vinified separately in small, neutral oak barrels. This environment produces a slow and limited oxidation that adds complexity and vinous flavor to the bases wines during their 7-10 months in barrel.
Aging after bottling: 4 years on the yeast.
Dosage: Light (5 gr/L)
Style: Round and rich with nuanced flavors.

Winemaker's Notes: "Color reddish pinkÉ generous foam on surface that forms a persisting crown. Fine, small bubbles in continuous stream. Aromas of raspberries with roasty caramel undertones. Round yet lively palatal impression. Subtle spice and passion fruit flavors.."

Serving Suggestions: A fine aperitif. Also a remarkably compatible accompaniment to a variety of entrees such as salmon, shellfish, Sushi, and veal.



NONVINTAGE CUVEE DISCOVERY $15

A blend of Chardonnay and Pinot noir, this value priced sparkler is a lovely dry wine that tastes like a lot more than the price tag would indicate. Winemaker Jean-Louis Denois shows his French style.


Fort Clatsop National Memorial near Astoria, Oregon

It was on a wet Christmas Eve day in 1805 that Lewis & Clark and their Corps of Discovery moved into a stockade fort near the current site of the town of Astoria, Oregon, surrounded by lush old-growth forest, wetlands and wildlife and rested from their arduous 2,000 mile westward journey. Fort Clatsop, the winter encampment site of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, was named in honor of the local Clatsop Indians. The 33-member party spent the winter of 1805-06 learning from the Clatsop people, making moccasins and buckskin clothing, storing food and reworking their maps and journals in preparation for their long journey back to St. Louis.

The original fort deteriorated in the wet climate of the northwest, but in 1955, using Clark's sketches, area citizens and service clubs constructed a replica on the same site. Three years later it became a unit of the National Park Service, commemorating the national significance of this epic journey.

To visit the fort, where park rangers dress in buckskins, make candles, smoke meat, carve dugout canoes and fire flintlock rifles and muskets to reenact what life was like for the explorers, check out the website of Astoria, Oregon.

In 1803 President Thomas Jefferson won approval from Congress for a visionary project that was to become one of American history's greatest adventure stories. Jefferson wanted to know if Americans could journey overland to the Pacific Ocean following two rivers, the Missouri and the Columbia, which flow east and west, respectively, from the Rocky Mountains. If the sources of the rivers were nearby, Jefferson reasoned that American traders would have a superior transportation route to help them compete with British fur companies pressing southward from Canada.

On February 28, 1803, the Congress appropriated funds for a small U.S. Army unit to explore the Missouri and Columbia rivers and tell the western Indian tribes that traders would soon come to buy their furs. The explorers were to make a detailed report on western geography, climate, plants and animals, and to study the customs and languages of the Indians. Plans for the expedition were almost complete when the President learned that France offered to sell all of Louisiana Territory to the United States. This transfer, which was completed within a year, doubled the area of the United States. It meant that Jefferson's Army expedition could travel all the way to the crest of the Rockies on American soil, no longer needing permission from the former French owners.

Jefferson selected as leader for the exploring mission an Army captain, 28-year-old Meriwether Lewis. The Jeffersons and Lewises had been neighbors near Charlottesville, Virginia, where Lewis was born August 18, 1774. Lewis was having a successful career in the regular army when the newly elected Jefferson summoned him in 1801 to work as his private secretary in the "President's House."


Domaine Meriwether owner Jack Bagdade's daughter Olivia is featured on the neck of the very limited Rose.

Oregon Cigar Box Label celebrating the Centennial of the Expedition in 1905
Oregon Cigar Box Label celebrating the Centennial of the Expedition in 1905

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