High/Low Weekend – Oregon Pinot Noir

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We are launching a new series for your wine consuming pleasure! This new series is based on one of my favorite concepts – High/Low Wine. This will allow our readers to splurge on one wine while saving on the other. This originated in my wine tasting group where we had to bring two wines (once priced high and one priced low) that we blind tasting. It resulted in a number of surprising outcomes! Maybe we hadn’t trained our palates enough or had a penchant for lower priced wines but the low priced wines came out the winner as much as the high priced wines.

We discussed it at DOTW and thought that it would make a great concept to bring to our readers.

The rules are essentially that one of the wines must be priced under $20 (low) and one above $20 (high) and the pairings can be anything we want. We could offer a comparison, as we are this week, or delve into different wines of the same style or just pick two random wines that we like.

You may also ask what drives the price point? We will grant that our price points are arbitrary and the low could be set lower and the high could be set higher. We picked $20 as the dividing line as we already offer Wine Wednesday where we highlight a wine that is priced at $10 and under so the $20 price point gives us a little more wiggle room. We didn’t set the high too high as we didn’t want to price people out of purchasing the wine. That doesn’t mean we wouldn’t offer a $100 wine if we like it.

Since I absolutely love Pinot Noir and one of my favorite Pinot Noir regions is Oregon, I though that I would start by offering two Oregon Pinot Noirs. In my humble opinion, Oregon offers the best value Pinot Noir around (even at the higher end range).

Although its hard to pick, this weekend, we are offering wines from two of my favorite wineries – Erath Winery and Domaine Drouhin. Both of these wineries were pioneers in Oregon (although it was The Eryrie Vineyards that planted the first Pinot Noir in Oregon) and were trailblazers for the plethora of wineries that came after them. Erath planted in first vines in 1969 and in 1972 produced the first commercial wine in the Willamette Valley. The French invaded a few decaded later when Domaine Drouhin (for you Burgundy lovers, does this name sound familiar) opened in Oregon in 1988, bringing with it over one hundred years of winemaking experience.

This week’s “low” wine is the 2008 Erath Pinot Noir, which retails for $19 (and purchased by yours truly for $14). The Earth was clear and a pale ruby color. On the nose, there were aromas of red cherry, raspberry, rose, violets, earth, mushroom and a slight gaminess. On the palate, the wine was high in acidity, light bodied with low tannins with delicate flavors of those found on the nose. Long finish.

This week’s “high” wine is the 2008 Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir, which retails for $40 (and purchased by DOTW for $36). The Domaine Drouhin was clear with a pale ruby color. On the nose, there were aromas of red and black cherry, raspberry, cedar, spice and earth. On the palate, the wine was high in acidity, light bodied with low tannins and bright, bursting flavors of the same aromas as experienced on the nose. While this wine was fabulous young, Domaine Drouhin states that it is drinkable for the next 10 to 15 years, which is remarkable for most Pinot Noirs.

In our humble opinion, you couldn’t go wrong with either of these wines. Not only did I love both of these wines, my husband did as well. While he isn’t normally as picky as I am, we rarely agree on wines that we both love.  And, both of these wines would be great picks for serving on Turkey Day!

Both of these wines were from the outstanding 2008 vintage, which is hailed as the best vintage in Oregon history. We can attest that they have been amazing. Stock up now while they are still available. Additionally, the Pinot Noirs coming out of Oregon seem to age better than most Pinot Noirs (and some appear that they may have the ageability of fine Burgundies) so you will be able to enjoy these wines for years to come.

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