From $48.89, 7,538 yen, £231 for a case of six
This is very far from the cheapest Oregon Pinot, but it is one of the most interesting, the first offering from the first venture of the burgundy négociant Louis Jadot outside greater Burgundy. (They have been active and skilful in Beaujolais for a relatively long time with their Château des Jacques bottlings which have long demonstrated admirable ageability and refinement.)
One could hardly argue that this first vintage was a Jadot product through and through since the Burgundians acquired the vineyard, almost by accident, only in mid August 2013, but the whole style of the wine is very different from the Oregon norm. Quite unlike the often rather sweet, fruity, bumptious Pinots made by others, this 2013 from the widely respected Resonance Vineyard is strongly burgundian in structure. Notably pale, it is delicately perfumed, relatively light, rather herbal, subtle and savoury. It finishes bone dry – in fact it suggests itself as a fine food companion. All very French, by which I don't at all diminish Oregon's special qualities but I happen to enjoy this interpretation of them. Rather Eyrie-like.
I have long admired the wines of Domaine Drouhin in Oregon, the produce of the only other burgundian négociant to have committed themselves to the Pacific Northwest, way back in 1988. (Other Burgundians with an Oregon connection today include Dominique Lafon, Louis-Michel Liger-Belair and Jean-Nicolas Méo – pas mal!) Drouhin’s wines have always seemed to split the difference between typically oregonian and typically burgundian, but Jadot's 2013 seems determined to be different, and determined to speak with a French accent. Alcohol level is just 13.1%; half the barrels in which the wine was aged for 15 months were new.
The man behind it is Jadot’s much-admired winemaker of 40 years, Jacques Lardière (pictured by photographer Jon Wyand) who, since officially retiring from the company’s cellars on the outskirts of Beaune, has been based in Oregon. I saw him when he was back in Beaune during the summer holidays last July and he was bursting with enthusiasm for this new American outpost. Head of Louis Jadot, Pierre-Henry Gagey, told me how he too was enthused about Oregon by the quality of Domaine Drouhin’s wines that had shown them how Oregon Pinot could be subtle and elegant, and how the IPNC had shown them how sympa Oregonians are. His son Thibault did the 2012 vintage at Domaine Drouhin (having spent three years in China and six months in New Zealand) and is managing the new Oregon project from Beaune.
Presumably future vintages will be refined and worked on, but it already comes from a highly reputable vineyard, run biodynamically for 15 years until the challenging 2011 growing season. Jadot's debut, relatively warm, 2013 vintage has been launched at a fairly ambitious price and is widely available in many a store in the US, is also in Japan and, by the six-pack from Cru World Wines, in the UK (who say it will be in stock from 16 May).
The Resonance Vineyard, with eight hectares of Pinot Noir and a small planting of Gewurztraminer was bought from Kevin and Carla Chambers whose company manages many a vineyard in the Willamette Valley. Some of the vineyard’s (ungrafted) vines were planted as long ago as 1981. Vines on a mix of old Willakenzie sedimentary soils and a local submarine basalt are at 80 to 150 m elevation and face south, well sheltered by trees and vineyards grafted against phylloxera. One of the larger neighbouring vineyards was recently acquired by Jackson Family on their Oregon buying spree.
This first vintage was made at the small Trisaetum winery. Those who have previously demonstrated the quality of Pinot from Resonance Vineyard include Sineann.
I see that Jadot have added an acute accent to the first E of Resonance, which seems a little unnecessary to me, but I very much look forward to seeing future vintages.