As I drove into the estate of Domaine Drouhin Vineyards and their bright orange vineyards I immediately noticed a ton of vehicles parked along the gravel roads. The event I was her for had just started 30 minutes prior, so how come I was seeing cars everywhere, and I’m talking well over 100.
The event is actually put on by”Salud” an organization raising money to benefit the health of the Willamette Valley migrant workers tending their crops. I had been invited to a previous event in Portland earlier this year, bid and won an excellent luncheon experience at Anam Cara Winery Estate.
What I discovered when walking into this event was a spectacular happening, this was “The Premier Oregon Pinot Noir Auction” ! What I found here were fourty-two creme la creme of the Willamette Valley Winegrowers, each presenting for tasting and auction, five special Pinot Noir Cuveées that they have created just for this event. They donate five cases of this special wine to this charity event, and provide two evenings of tastings, during the auction, which starts this afternoon.
Now let me be perfectly clear, this is not a an event for the financial “faint of heart”, as I found out when I looked at the projected screen on the wall, with current bids on cases lots. The average case price bid was at $800 each with some greater than $1000 per case, and that would be for 12 bottles.
As I “grazed” on plates of delicious creations being served on each floor (3), I took my time tasting the many 2011 Pinot Noir’s on auction and listening to their Vintners explain how they were created, as I sipped. This is how one collates the data and makes a decision on what this wine will actually be in a year or two, or more, because you are really bidding on “futures”, and gambling on the success of the Vintner.
I enjoyed quite the discussion with the Owner/Vintner Don Lange from Lange Estate Winery and Vineyards in Dundee Oregon, about the 2011 vintage. I was privileged to sit dinner with Don and his lovely wife Wendy at the IPNC12 this year in McMinnville. The 2011 Pinot Noir Cuvée produced for this event was a deep rose colored, with nice intense fruit, and just enough tannin to express a terrific balance over the next few years. Needless to say I was impressed.
What Don relayed to me was the difficulties in the 2011 harvest, and how extraordinary it was to create a cuvée of this potential caliper. Again, I concur, that Lange had in fact produced well, as did many others I had the opportunity to enjoy.
There were to many there to discuss properly, and without causing slight to the many great Pinot Noir’s there that graced my crystal, I would say with confidence, that 2011 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir’s may not be the best year, but they will be a very fine year in your glass.