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Oregon Wine for Burgundy Lovers


“Ask Avalon” Question For the Day, from Raphe Reeves,  Unwine’d

“Name three Oregon wines for a Burgundy lover to try.”

Every week we ask our Facebook readers for questions about wine. This week we answer Raphe Reeves’, a blogger and videographer about wine and food.  Here’s our answer:

Well, we tried to narrow it to three wines, and came up with three wineries instead: Eyrie, Evening Land, and Evesham Wood. And no, we didn’t intentionally go for wineries that start with “E”!

Evening Land Vineyards

A strong connection to Burgundy has influenced Evening Land’s wines since its inception. Evening Land Vineyards’ (ELV) consulting winemaker is the world famous Dominique Lafon (at right.)

Burgundy connoisseur, fan of Domaine Lafon,  and  founder of ELV, Mark Tarlov, talked Lafon into coming to Oregon when Evening Land was about to produce its first vintage. Dominique liked what he found and agreed to visit Oregon several times a year and consult on vineyard management and winemaking.

“I believe in the spirit of the Côte de Beaune—it is in me,” said Lafon, who has managed his family’s estate, Domaine des Comtes Lafon in Meursault since 1987. “With ELV’s Seven Springs Vineyard, we work with the land and the soils in the traditional way, looking to create the right balance in the glass.”

For a Burgundy lover, we recommend any of the ELV wines but suggest trying their white Burgundies. Their top of the line Chardonnay right now is the 2009 Chardonnay Seven Springs Summum, made from a section of the vineyard that Lafon likes best.

Evening Land’s top of the line “Summum” Chardonnay is a powerful, polished wine. An enticing, subtly floral scent of citrus and peach explodes from the glass, leading to a surge of fresh lemon, tropical fruit, and mineral flavors. Sensuous creaminess tinged with spice anchors the long, luxurious, intense finish. – Jean

Eyrie Vineyards

One of Oregon’s most distinguished founding wineries, Eyrie’s French connection is famous. In 1979, at the Olympiades of the Wines of the World held in Paris, Eyrie’s 1975 Reserve Pinot noir became the first American wine to successfully compete against the renowned Pinot noirs of Burgundy. The next year Eyrie Pinot noir was rated second only to Drouhin’s Chambolle-Musigny 1959, and by only two-tenths of a point.

Eyrie founder and winemaker David Lett kept to his decidedly Burgundian-influenced style for over 30 years,  no matter what the current trend. His best wines are drinking well after 25+ years, as proven at a tasting of 29 vintages of Pinot noir last year and a similar tasting of Chardonnay the year before.

Below, opening 25 vintages of Eyrie Oregon Chardonnay

We suggest the Eyrie Pinot noir Estate 2009 $29.38 as a good example of Oregon Pinot with a Burgundian twist. Wine Advocate reviewed it and said: “The 2009 Pinot Noir Estate is an elegant, spicy, savory wine that is complete on the palate from start to finish. Seamless and lengthy, it can be approached now but should provide enjoyment for another 6-7 years. 92 pts.”

One of Oregon’s best Chardonnays is Eyrie owner jason Lett’s Black Cap Chardonnay 08 $53.95. Black Cap is his personal label and very little is made, so you don’t see much about it or find it in stores. He made fewer than 100 cases in 2008. If there’s an aristocracy of Oregon wine, this Chardonnay ranks high among the noble.

Elegant and sensuous, Black Cap Chardonnay also has a powerful side. It explodes with rich pear and apricot, honey, and stones. As it unfurls, lemon and jasmine enter the scene. Refined, focused, and built for long-term aging, Jason’s Chardonnays are helping the world take notice of Oregon Chardonnay.

Evesham Wood

Founder and longtime owner of Evesham Wood, Russ Raney, is deeply influenced by Burgundian winemaking practices. While he sold Evesham to Erin Nuccio last year, he continues to consult for the winery and travels to France each summer to learn more about their wines. Erin is expanding and enhancing Russ’s wines and vineyard, and has the same respect for Burgundian techniques.

Below, Evesham Wood’s Le Puits Sec Vineyard

One of Raney’s greatest French influences was the renowned Henri Jayer, of Vosne-Romanée, Burgundy. Wine Spectator calls the now retired Jayer a “dean of Burgundy winemakers.”

“I was introduced to Jayer’s wines by a friend from my retailer days,” Raney said, “and I started corresponding with him. He was very helpful and very forthcoming with information on his winemaking techniques. Eventually I met him and saw first hand what he was doing. There are a lot of little details about his winemaking technique that I collected.”

We recommend the Evesham Wood Cuvee J 2009 $39.55 if you can find it. We have a tiny bit available at the store.

The 2009 Cuvee J opens with a nose of classic Burgundy – compelling and complex, multi-layered and detailed. An amazing swirl of tension between elegant fruit and fresh turned earth and herbs. Made from the best six barrels of Pinot from the vintage, a scant 120 cases.

For years, Cuvee “J” has been one of those truly cult wines – a must-have passionate Oregon Pinot noir collectors. It is released and sells out in a few days. Part of the foundation of my cellar, I’ve been collecting it since 1996. Cuvee “J” usually needs cellaring – it’s subtle, refined, mysterious, ever changing, and unforgettable.

Read the complete article about Evesham Wood and Russ’s winemaking.

So there it is, three wineries and four wines we think will inspire a Burgundy lover to delve into the wonderful range of Oregon wine.



3 Responses to Oregon Wine for Burgundy Lovers

  1. Raphe Reeves June 12, 2012 at 1:08 pm #

    Thanks so much for providing this feedback in regards to my question. Cheers…

  2. Lura Siglin June 13, 2012 at 6:36 pm #

    Is there any wine that is organic????

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