IPNC: The Grand Seminar
The Grand Seminar was titled, “The French Adventurers: Burgundians Making Pinot Noir in Oregon.” The
Burgundian entry into the Oregon wine business began in July 1987, when Véronique Boss-Drouhin’s father,
Robert Drouhin, the Chairperson of Maison Joseph Drouhin, looked at Véronique while in the Dundee Hills of
Oregon, and said, “Let’s try to make wine here. I believe in this place. Véronique says now, “In 30 years, the
journey has been as challenging as it has been a fascinating adventure.” It would be twenty years before other
French adventurers became committed to Oregon, but the wave of Burgundian enthusiasm for Oregon is now
rapidly taking shape.
Why Oregon and not California? The French have always had a close relationship with Oregon, beginning with
the early Oregon vintners such as David Lett, Charles Coury and David Adelsheim, who traveled to Burgundy
to study and established relationships that laid the ground work for future affiliations. Oregonians have always
relished Burgundian influence, have been very receptive to the Burgundy vignerons, and the Burgundians have in turn participated with regularity in the Oregon
Steamboat Conference and the IPNC.The midpoint of the Willamette Valley lies at 45 degrees north latitude,
the same as for Burgundy’s Côte d’Or, so that vintages in Oregon tend to parallel those in Burgundy. In
addition, the French often dismiss California’s climate as too hot for Pinot Noir (this was alluded to in the
Seminar by the French), finding more value in savoriness, acidity, and texture felt to be lacking in many
California fruit driven Pinot Noirs.
The French are intrigued with the opportunity in Oregon because they can take their knowledge from crafting
Pinot Noir in Burgundy and apply it to a new region. They have more freedom to experiment including blending grapes
from different vineyards. There also is the attraction of building something meaningful from scratch. There are
very few opportunities in Burgundy to launch and grow new projects. Recent investments in Oregon vineyard
land have pushed up prices, but the cost of vineyards is still affordable compared to prime Burgundy plots. Finally, Oregon has a consistently sunny summer (sometimes it rains in Burgundy in July and August), there is less concern about botrytis and essentially no threat of hail, two common challenges in Burgundy.
The panelists for the Grand Seminar (left to right), Moderator Eric Asimov of The New York Times, Veronique
Boss-Drouhin of Domaine Drouhin Oregon, Dominque Lafon of Lingua Franca, Alexandrine Roy of Phelps
Creek Vineyards, Jacques Lardiére of Résonance Vineyard, and Jean-Nicholas Meo of Nicolas-Jay.
Each panelist offered two wines from their respective wineries as indicated on the table mat below. I must say,
all the wines were superb examples of Oregon Pinot Noir, making for one of the most memorable tastings ever
at an IPNC Grand Seminar. Following is a brief synopsis of each panelist’s winery.
Domaine Drouhin Oregon, Dundee Hills
Robert Drouhin, the Chairperson of Maison Joseph Drouhin from 1957 to 2003, visited California in 1961. He
met with Robert Mondavi who suggested investing in California, but Robert Drouhin’s interest was Pinot Noir
and California had not achieved success with that variety by then. He realized he would have to look
In 1979, Robert Drouhin set up a blind tasting of French Burgundies versus their American Pinot Noir
counterparts. At this now famous Gault-Mileu tasting held in Paris, a 1959 Domaine Drouhin Chambolle-
Musigny came in first, but David Lett’s 1975 The Eyrie Vineyards South Block Reserve took second. This
impressed Robert who was struck by the resemblance of the Willamette Valley to the Côte d’Or and the wines
produced by Oregon’s pioneering Pinot Noir winemakers. Robert initiated the purchase of 100 acres in the
Dundee Hills overlooking the town of Dundee by Maison Joseph Drouhin in 1987, making the Drouhin family
the first Burgundian winemakers to invest in Oregon.
Robert chose his daughter, Véronique, part of the fourth generation of the Drouhin family and a 1985 graduate
of the University of Dijon, to direct the new project in Oregon known as Domaine Drouhin Oregon (DDO).
Véronique oversaw the initial planting of high-density vineyards in 1988, and crafted the first three vintages,
1988 to 1990, from purchased grapes. More land was acquired bringing the total to 225 estate acres, 90 of that
planted to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Véronique-Boss Drouhin is a long distance winemaker, continuing to live in Beaune, but traveling to Oregon
frequently to oversee the winemaking at Domaine Drouhin Oregon. Phillipe Drouhin, Véronique’s brother, has
managed the DDO vineyards that are among the most densely planted in the United States from the beginning.
DDO is one of the few vineyards in the United States to cultivate their own rootstocks and propagate all their
own plant material by selection massale.
The Pinot Noirs of Domaine Drouhin Oregon have set a benchmark for Oregon, emphasizing balance and
elegance over extraction and power. Although they can be quite charming upon release, the wines age
magnificently. Véronique told me, “My stylistic goal in Oregon is to produce very elegant wines. It is more of a
challenge in Oregon than in Burgundy. In both regions, the goal is the same but the challenges are different. In
Oregon it is pretty easy to produce wine with both good color and structure, but to capture the finesse is more
tricky. In Burgundy, it is easy to obtain a natural elegance, but sometimes more challenging to get enough color
In December 2013, the Drouhin family more than doubled their Oregon vineyard holdings with the purchase of
the 279-acre (111 acres planted) RoseRock Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA.
The clever Domaine Drouhin tagline, “French soul, Oregon soil,” could apply to all the wineries participating in
For more information, visit www.roserockoregon.com and www.domainedrouhinoregon.com.
Wines presented at the Grand Seminar:
2014 Drouhin Oregon RoseRock Zéphrine Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir $60. Reviewed 11/19/16 in
PinotFile - score 91-92.
2012 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Laurène Dundee Hills Pinot Noir $70. Reviewed 11/19/16 in PinotFile -
Note: Domaine Drouhin Oregon released this year a Édition Limitée Dundee Hills Chardonnay and Édition
Limitée Dundee Hills Pinot Noir, and my reviews are included here.
2015 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Édition Limitée Drouhin Family Estate Dundee Hills Oregon Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 232 cases, $85.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. A complex nose offers an array of scents
including blackberry, blueberry-pomegranate, white pepper, dark rose petal, violet and timber. Rather sappy
and luscious in a mid weight plus style with robust flavors of blackberry fruit with accents of spice and toasty
oak. Well-structured yet tannins are reigned in enough to allow early drinking. Very pleasing, with a lengthy
finish, but with a sense of higher alcohol.
2015 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Édition Limitée Drouhin Family Estate Dundee Hills Oregon Chardonnay
13.9% alc., 125 cases, $65.
Light golden yellow color in the glass. Aromas of ocean breeze, wet
rock, creme soda, and a hit of butter and toast. A nicely balanced and sophisticated wine, with flavors of green
apple, pear, Kaffir lime, and a back note of salinity, energized by lively acidity, finishing with a persistent lemon
peel theme. Still solid when tasted the following day from a previously opened bottle predicting age ability.
Lingua Franca, Salem
Master Sommelier Larry Stone, a native of the Pacific Northwest, has now achieved his dream of owning his
own vineyard and producing Pinot Noir in Oregon. Stone (pictured below at IPNC) was the ninth Master
Sommelier in the United States and was the first American to win the prestigious Best International Sommelier
in competition in Paris, France. He left the restaurant business in 2006 (he had been a sommelier at Rubicon,
Charlie Trotter’s and the Four Seasons) to manage Evening Land Vineyards in Oregon where French vigneron,
Dominique Lafon, was the consulting winemaker.
Larry sold his personal wine collection, and with the assistance of friends, family and a major investor, David
Honig, who is a successful attorney with experience in the wine business, bought a vineyard site (tentatively
named LFV Estate Vineyard) in the Eola-Amity Hills and planted 66 acres to Pinot Noir and lesser amounts of
Chardonnay. The vineyard is ideally located near Evening Land’s Seven Springs Vineyard, Argyle Winery’s
Lone Star Vineyard, Domaine Drouhin’s RoseRock Vineyard and Domaine Serene’s Jerusalem Hill Vineyard.
Beginning in 2017, the estate vineyard will be farmed with the assistance of viticulture specialist Mimi Casteel
(Bethel Heights Winery).
A large, modern winery was constructed and completed in 2016 in collaboration with Burgundy icon and
consulting winemaker Dominique Lafon (pictured above at IPNC). Lafon works closely with Stone and
winemaker Thomas Savre, a graduate of Dijon University whose experience in Burgundy includes Domaine de
la Romanée-Conti and Domaine Dujac, and in Oregon where he was an assistant winemaker at Evening Land.
Lafon has been a long time booster of Oregon wines, having attended the first IPNC in 1986.
I visited the winery on the estate property before IPNC. It is still undergoing finishing touches but is a
magnificent facility with a bank of ten large stainless fermenters along one wall and a similar number of
concrete fermenters lining another wall. The inside has very high ceilings and the walls are constructed of 18”
thick concrete for insulation.
The winery’s first wines were released from the 2015 vintage (produced at Coehlo Winery using purchased
grapes). The estate vineyard first harvested fruit came in 2016 and make up the 2016 Lingua Franca Coeur
Libere Rosé de Pinot Noir. Lingua Franca has been leasing a 5-acre vineyard, Bunker Hill, in Salem, with Dijon
76 Chardonnay clone planted in 1995 on Nekia soil for the core of the winery’s Chardonnay production.
Wines presented at the Grand Seminar:
2015 Lingua Franca Mimi’s Mind Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir $90.
2015 Lingua Franca Joshua, Junicki & Siri Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir $50. Reviewed 6/25/17 in PinotFile - score 93.
Wines tasted at the winery briefly:
2016 Lingua Franca Coeur Libere Eola-Amity Hills Rosé de Pinot Noir $22. Lingua Franca Estate
Vineyard. Everything you can ask for in a Pinot Noir Rosé with a perfume of fresh red berries and flavors that
fall in step. Bright, clean and refreshing. Easily the best Rosé I tasted during this trip to Oregon.
2015 Lingua Franca AVNI Willamette Valley Chardonnay $40. Sourced from 8 vineyards. A more fruit-driven
and exuberant style, yet offering vibrant acidity along with a subtle underlay of nutty oak. Reviewed
6/25/17 in the PinotFile - score 93.
2015 Lingua Franca Sisters Eola-Amity Hills Chardonnay $90. Sourced from 4 vineyards but primarily 20-
year-old vines at Bunker Hill Vineyard where clone 76 is planted in Nekia soil. A much more serious and high-collared
wine that speaks more of minerality and acidity than fruit.
2015 Lingua Franca Joshua Junichi & Siri Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir$50. Sourced from Redman Vineyard.
50% de-stemmed and 50% whole cluster. A carbonic nose filled with spice and burnt tobacco notes and a
charming core of fresh raspberry and cherry fruit flavors. Seductive. Reviewed 6/25/17 in the PinotFile - score
2015 Lingua Franca AVNI Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir $40. A regional blend sourced from neighboring
vineyards. A savory wine with the essence of black cherry embellished with notes of oak and herbs framed by
2015 Lingua Franca Tongue ‘N Cheek Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir $60. Sourced from Elton Vineyard with
vines planted in the early 1970s. Pommard and 115 clones. The wine has a good structural backbone and very
appealing black cherry and black raspberry fruit flavors. Streamlined and easy to like with a thoroughly
satisfying finish of uncommon length. Reviewed 6/25/17 in the PinotFile - score 94.
2015 Lingua Franca Ryan’s Plow Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. $60. Sourced from Seven Springs Vineyard
(Calera clone) and Black Walnut Vineyard (Pommard and 667 clones). Modest whole cluster. A combination of
vibrant cherry and berry fruit and spice aromas and flavors that have remarkable mid palate presence. An
appealing earthiness is boundless. Finishes strong with uplifting cherry notes. Reviewed 6/25/17 in the
PinotFile - score 94.
2015 Lingua Franca Mimi’s Mind Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir $90. Named after Mimi Casteel, the winery’s
viticultural advisor. Sourced from Mimi’s vineyard that has soil similar to Lingua Franca estate vineyard. 20%
whole cluster. The most primary wine in the lineup featuring gobs of black fruits, a velvety mouthfeel, and
muscular skin and stem tannins. Drink now with a steak but better to wait. Eventually this will be a “Wow!” wine
that can be the centerpiece of a dinner.
This project is one of the most impressive new launches on the Oregon Pinot Noir scene. I reviewed several of
the 2015 Pinot Noir and Chardonnay releases in a recent issue of the PinotFile. I also visited the winery prior to
IPNC where I was hosted by Larry Stone. He is a very warm and humble individual who patiently poured all the
Lingua Franca wines currently offered accompanied by considerable insight and commentary. These highly
desirable wines are sold on the website at www.linguafranca.wine, with magnums available at the winery.
Phelps Creek Vineyards, Columbia Gorge
Phelps Creek Vineyards was founded in 1990 in Hood River, Oregon, by Robert Morus, a Delta Airlines
captain. The property is a 77-acre, steeply slopped site with stunning views of Mount Hood. The 34-acre
vineyard is planted to own-rooted and grafted Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. The initial Pinot Noir
plantings (Pommard, 777 and 115 clones) date to 1990 and Chardonnay plantings (75 and 76) to 1992.
Alexandrine Roy, of Domaine Marc Roy in Gevrey-Chambertain, (pictured below at IPNC) a fourth-generation
winemaker, joined the winemaking team as a contributor in 2007. By 2012, she had become the Director of
Winemaking in charge of all wine production. Alexandrine typically visits the winery 3-4 times each year,
focusing on applying traditional French winemaking techniques to Phelps Creek’s limited production wines. Her
signature style is offered through Cuvée Alexandrine, Phelps Creek’s flagship Pinot Noir, “Beehive” Pinot Noir,
Fleur de Roy, a Rosé of Pinot Noir, and “Corduroy,” a Pinot Noir Blanc. Alexandrine is one of the few
Burgundians to faithfully attend IPNC every year.
The Phelps Creek tasting room in Hood River is open daily. The wines are also sold through the website at
www.phelpscreekvineyards.com. See the PinotFile for many reviews of Phelps Creek Vineyards wines.
Wines presented at the Grand Seminar:
2013 Phelps Creek Vineyards Cuvée Alexandrine Columbia Gorge Pinot Noir $54. Reviewed in the
PinotFile 5/25/15 - score 92-93.
2014 Phelps Creek Vineyards Cuvée Alexandrine Columbia Gorge Pinot Noir $54. Reviewed in the
PinotFile 2/1/17 - score 96.
Résonance Vineyard, Newberg
Jacques Lardière (pictured below at IPNC) was the winemaker at Maison Louis Jadot for 42 vintages, handing
over the reigns in 2013 to Thibault Gagey, the son of Pierre-Henry Gagey, the president of Louis Jadot. Jadot
had decided to invest outside Burgundy to expand its business and chose Oregon after several visits because
of the availability of the appealing Résonance Vineyard and the fact that the United States is a significant
market for Jadot wines. After retiring, Lardière moved to the Willamette Valley to craft the Résonance wines,
named because the vineyard marked the departure point of a new adventure. There has been a tremendous
amount of ballyhoo regarding Résonance.
Résonance Vineyard was owned by Kevin Chambers, who sold grapes to Sineann and Big Table Farm and
made wine under the Resonance label. It is an own-rooted 22-acre vineyard on 32 acres in the Yamhill-Carlton
AVA planted in 1981 primarily to Pinot Noir. Some existing Gewürztraminer was grafted over to Pinot Noir by
Louis Jadot, and Chardonnay may be produced from the site in the future. 2013 was the first vintage of
Résonance Pinot Noir vinified under Jadot ownership. Résonance is Maison Louis Jadot’s first venture outside
the United States since their inception in 1859, and the first vineyard purchased outside France since 1826.
The Résonance Vineyard is protected from inclement weather and wind on all sides and is a warm, dry site as
a result. The vines are own-rooted and dry-farmed. Pinot Noir plantings include 10 acres of Pommard (1981
and 2006), 7 acres of Wädenswil (1987 and 2006), 2 acres of 777 (1995).
Louis Jadot also bought a 17 acre site in the Dundee Hills AVA in 2014 with 7 acres planted to Pinot Noir. Wine
from this site will be called Découverte with the first release from the 2014 vintage.
The wines are made by young Burgundian winemakers under the supervision of Lardrière who is very prone to say, "Very interesting you know."
The first two vintages, 2013 and 2014, were produced at Trisaetum and will continue until a planned winery
located next to Résonance Vineyard is constructed. The winery has also offered a Hyland Vineyard
Chardonnay, a Découverte Vineyard Pinot Noir and a Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. No website. Distributed by
Kobrand Wine & Spirits.
2013 Résonance Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir $65. Reviewed 11/19/16 in PinotFile - score 90.
2014 Résonance Vineyard Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir $65.
Domaine Nicolas-Jay, Dundee
In 2012 Jean-Nicolas Méo partnered with his friend of three decades, visionary music entrepreneur Jay
Boberg, to found Domaine Nicolas-Jay (Nicolas left, Jay right in photo below). Jean-Nicolas has worked with
legendary sites such as Richebourg, Clos de Vougeot, Corton Clos Rognet and Échezeaux at his winery in
Burgundy, Méo-Camuzet. Given their shared love of Pinot Noir and their common goal to build something
lasting, in 2012 Jay and Jean-Nicolas bought the organically-farmed, 13.5-acre Bishop Creek Vineyard located
in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. This site has a diversity of soils, clones and elevations.
To complement the exceptional estate fruit, Jay, Jean-Nicolas, and associate winemaker Tracy Kendall
(formerly of Adelsheim) have established relationships with famed vineyards through the Willamette Valley,
including Nysa, Momtazi, Zenith and Knight’s Gambit. Jean-Nicolas now spends nearly two months in Oregon
each season traveling throughout the spring, summer and harvest to oversee viticulture and winemaking. Jay
spends up to 6 months each year in Oregon working in the vineyard and winery alongside the winemakers.
The 2014 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir was their debut wine, followed by two limited single-vineyard designates.
For more information, visit www.nicolas-jay.com.
Wine presented at the Grand Seminar:
2015 Nicolas-Jay Willamette Valley Pinot Noir $65. Reviewed 6/25/17 in PinotFile - score 94.
Other Oregon wineries with a French connection:
Beaux Fréres Maisons & Domaines Henriot, owner of Henriot Champagne, has bought a majority stake in this winery.
Chapter 24 Mark Tarlov left Evening Land and started his second winery, Chapter 24. He joined with Viscount Louis-Michel Ligier-Belair in Vosne-Romanée. Three cuvées are offered: The Fire, The Flood and The Last Chapter.
Cooper Mountain Vineyards Gilles de Domingo is a French-born winemaker, trained in Bordeaux, France,
who made wine throughout the world before settling in the Willamette Valley.
DePonte Cellars and 1789 Wines Isabelle Dutartre worked with Véronique Drouhin-Boss in Burgundy,
followed her to Oregon in 1989, worked with her in Oregon and Beaune for many years, and became head
winemaker at DePonte Cellars in 2001.
Elton Winery, Lavinea Winery Isabelle Meunier initially came to Oregon in 2007 to oversee Evening Land
Vineyards winemaking for Dominique Lafon, leaving that winery in 2014. She is now the consulting winemaker
for Willamette Valley Vineyards new Elton Winery. Her own label, Lavinea Winery, features single vineyard
Hyland Estates, Soléna Estate and NW Wine Company. Laurent Montalieu is a Bordeaux native who has
been making wine in Oregon for over 28 years.
Double Zero Winery Lea Lafon, the daughter of noted vigneron Dominque Lafon, is the winemaker.
Torii Mor Winery Jacques Tardy represents the eight generation of a Burgundian winemaking family from
Nuits-Saint-Georges. He moved to California in 1982 and made his way to Oregon by 1990, joining Torii Mor as
head winemaker in 2004.
Van Duzer Vineyards. Florent-Pierre Merlier is a native of Burgundy who found romance with Krista, an
Oregonian, while the two were interning at the same winery in Burgundy. Florent obtained his Diploma of
Viticulture from the University of Dijon before relocating to Oregon in 2009, becoming the winemaker at Van
Duzer Vineyards in 2004.
Winter’s Hill Vineyards Delphine Gladhart is a French born winemaker was working at Lemelson Winery in
2001 when she met future spouse Russell Gladhart whose family owned Winter’s Hill Vineyards in the Dundee
Hills, and she became the winemaker there.
The dates for next year’s 32nd Annual IPNC are July 27-29, 2018. If you want to join the IPNC mailing
list and receive the e-newsletter, the IPNC Seasonal Post, contact IPNC at email@example.com, or
503-472-8964, or IPNC PO Box 1310, McMinnville, OR 97128. For further information about IPNC or to
buy tickets for next year’s event, visit www.ipnc.org. Join the over 16,380 Pinot Noir lovers from around
the world that have travelled to McMinnville for a weekend of drinking Pinot, eating, learning, and
celebrating together in honor of Pinot Noir.