A President’s Day Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley, Oregon, that would make our Founding Fathers proud.
Producer: Maison l'Envoyé
Region: Willamette Valley, Oregon
Grape(s): Pinot Noir
Tasting Notes: Cherry, fresh raspberry, pomegranate, subtle spices
Pairings: Furikake salmon, Cantonese roast duck, sautéed Japanese mushroom medley, chocolate, medium-firm cheeses
Price (approximately): $27 (stay tuned for a review of Maison l'Envoyé’s less expensive label!)
Buy: Fujioka’s Wine Times
Happy President’s Day! I had the special privilege of being invited to chat about wine this morning for National Drink Wine Day on KHON’s Living 808 with host Tannya Joaquin. What a treat! On this special occasion, I thought it fitting to pay tribute to my favorite President/Oenophile, Thomas Jefferson, by recounting a few of his nerdy, vinous tendencies and breaking out a bottle of American Pinot Noir that would truly make him proud. I couldn’t say nearly enough about Jefferson or this fabulous wine on air, so here is a special post that gets a little geeky!
Jefferson was a wine wonk through and through. During his time in Europe, he maintained a travel log that contained detailed notations on numerous aspects of viniculture and viticulture. Wherever Jefferson went, he tasted, investigated, and documented. Jefferson’s wine manifesto illustrated (sometimes literally) his scientific process related to wine. And apparently it was good. Although he spent a mere four days in Bordeaux, his evaluations of the region are still referenced as authoritative work on the Bordeaux wine trade circa 1787.
Jefferson deeply desired that the young nation be one of winemakers and wine drinkers. He firmly believed that wine had important health benefits and was a way to connect people and effectively disseminate knowledge. Of course, it was also fun, too!
Although it was not realized in his lifetime, Jefferson’s early vision for the country has finally borne much fruit. Wine is commercially grown in all 50 states, and Jefferson’s favorite wines from Rhône, Bordeaux and Burgundy have their vinous second homes in Napa Valley, Columbia Valley, Sonoma, and Willamette Valley. Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, all varietals Jefferson wanted to produce in Monticello, are the most popular grapes in the United States.
Most of western Oregon’s present-day wine country was once submerged in an ocean basin with active subsurface volcanoes. The remnants of Willamette Valley’s ancient beginnings can still be found amongst the soils. Ocean basalt, siliceous lava and other volcanic deposits, combined with sedimentary wash from the ice age, produce well-drained, mineral-rich terroir.
Today, the region is a focal point for world-class Pinot Noir. Clouds and humidity from the Pacific sweep east across the Valley through breaks in the Coastal Range, resulting in cool summers and wet autumns. As a result of the climate and terroir, Pinot Noir produced here is softer, more fruit forward, and matures earlier than its European counterparts.
This wine showcases the potential of Oregon Pint Noir. The first impressions are in the expressive, alluring bouquet of ripe raspberry, cherry, and pomegranate with a touch of floral elements. On the palate, the wine is lighter in body, soft and elegant with flavors of red fruit, minerals, and spices. An eminently drinkable wine that pairs beautifully with a variety of cheeses, chocolates, duck, salmon, or a relaxing pizza-and-movie night.