Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Cloudline Pinot Noir

Just the other day, I'd posted the fact that the 2012 Wine Bloggers Conference is going to be held in Portland, Oregon, and I mentioned that I don't really know much about Oregon wines. Then, having just quaffed a Napa Merlot at our picnic the other night, I thought why not go full circle on the Sideways reference and try a Pinot.

Despite my general lack of knowledge for this region, I know that Oregon and, in particular, the Willamette Valley make claim to some of the top Pinot Noir vineyards and producers outside of Burgundy. I don't, however, get much chance to try those wines - outside of the odd sip at a wine tasting or festival.

Once again, there are seemingly two forces of evil that construe against my Oregon yearnings. The first is that we just don't see many Oregon wines North of the 49th Parallel. That may be a result of there being a large number of boutique wineries that just don't have a lot of product to send up the I-5. I don't know.

I do know, however, the second reason is that, once a few wines actually make it across the border, the price becomes rather unappealing - regardless of the lure of the wine. I checked the provincial government system and they show only twelve Oregon wines as available. Of that dozen, two wines come in around $20. The rest of them are all between $30 and $50. Unfortunately, my budget just doesn't allow me to spend that kind of cash on a mid-week wine, especially where I know nothing about the producer and just want to give the wine a taste.

I tend to have to grab the odd bottle, now and then, when we get the chance while visiting Washington state. That's how tonight's bottle made it into our cellar. I think it came compliments of a Costco run.

906. 2007 Cloudline Pinot Noir (Oregon)

This is the type of bottle that I might expect to see up here in the Vancouver market. Cloudline is a project of Dreyfus Ashby, wine importers in the States. Similar to the négociant labels in France, the winery doesn't actually have vineyards where they grow their own grapes; rather, they buy grapes from local producers and produce their own line. I understand that Cloudline has a fairly large production (upwards of 37,000 cases of this 2007 vintage).

Not having the costs of the vineyard to deal with, Cloudline has managed to keep the price around $20 which is reasonable for Pinot Noir. That's in the States though; I doubt it could hit the BC market at that price point.

Dreyfus Ashby has a long time relationship with Joseph Drouhin wines in France and with Drouhin's Oregon venture, Domaine Drouhin Oregon. As such, it's been an easy fit for Véronique Drouhin to act as Cloudline consulting winemaker. Accordingly, the wine has some experience behind it.

It's difficult to make a reasonably priced Pinot Noir - at least one that successfully accomplishes a complex and nuanced finish that the varietal is most lauded for. There was a softness and subtleness to the wine, but for my palate, Cloudline didn't hit any wow factors. I may not be the biggest Pinotphile, but it wasn't a wine that would compel me to run out and try more wines from the region. All the same, it was a means of getting a little more exposure to the wines that Oregon has to offer.

As mentioned in my other post, I'm just going to have to do my best to make it down to the Wine Bloggers Conference and dive into all things Oregon next year.

No comments:

Post a Comment