February 9, 2012: Maison Joseph Drouhin and Duckhorn “Decoy”

This week we will explore wines from two very different and distinct producers; Maison Joseph Drouhin of Burgundy, France and Duckhorn Wine Company’s second label “Decoy” of California. We will try a two Chardonnays and two Pinot Noirs and taste them side-by-side, as well as a Zinfandel and Red Bordeaux-style blend.

Joseph Drouhin is a negociant, meaning that they purchase fruit from smaller winemakers and growers to blend into their wines; however, Drouhin also owns 73 hectares (182.5 acres) of vines, making it one of the largest estates and producers in the region of Burgundy. They own vineyards in every major appellation of Burgundy from Chablis, to the Cote de BeauneCote de Nuits, and Cote Chalonnaise, as well as the Willamette Valley in Oregon (Domaine Drouhin). Their goal is to express the character of each individual terroir and farm the vineyards with an organic and biodynamic approach. It states on their website: “We respect and ensure the quality of our soils: plowing by horse, allowing the grass to grow between the vines and using natural compost… grow our vine stocks in our own nursery to preserve their genetic heritage and remain in control of quality… let our vines thrive using natural methods only; treatments are based on herb infusions and natural predators are used instead of synthetic products… favor low yields to allow our grapes to enhance the true type of each soil… [and] pick the grapes in small perforated crates in order to protect and preserve the integrity of the fruit”.

Negociant wine merchants are very common, not only in France but all over the globe. To read more about negociants and Joseph Drouhin click here.

For the tasting we will sample an unoaked Chardonnay 2010 vintage from the region of Saint-Veran located in the Maconnaise sub-district; and the 2009 LaForet Bourgogne Pinot Noir, which is made from a blend of various appellations. The Drouhin wines are both priced at $16.99 for the tasting.

Duckhorn Wine Company was founded in 1976 in Napa Valley. They started out with Bordeaux varietals, making 800 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon and 800 cases of Merlot in 1978, but today, after thirty years in the business make wine under five different labels (Duckhorn, Paraduxx, Goldeneye, Migration, and Decoy) from numerous vineyards, grape varieties, and appellations. The “Decoy Red” Bordeaux-style blend was introduced more than twenty years ago and is an integral part of the Duckhorn production. The Decoy wines are quite approachable and made in a style that is ready-to-drink upon release. The fruit comes from a mix of Estate vineyards and top grower vineyards, primarily located in the Napa, Sonoma, and Anderson Valleys. Tomorrow night we will try four Decoy wines including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and the Bordeaux-blend called Decoy Red. The Decoy wines range in price from $17.99 to $23.99 for the tasting.

We hope you will join us!

The specific wines are:

Joseph Drouhin Saint-Veran 2010– Maconnais, Burgundy. From vineyards located in the southern end of Burgundy, just north of Beaujolais. The grapes are purchased from growers with long-term contracts and sourced from low-yielding vineyards. The cuvee aged for 6-8 months in stainless steel vats and offers a pretty nose of tropical fruits and floral notes. Hints of spice are enhanced with notes of juicy fruits of pineapple, green apple, and citrus. Bright acidity adds balance and depth. Tasting $16.99

Joseph Drouhin LaForet Pinot Noir 2009– Burgundy. Made from a blend of purchased grapes and must (freshly pressed juice that contains stems, seeds, and skins) from 12 different appellations. A portion of the cuvee aged in stainless steel for 7-8 months, while the other portion aged in one- to two-year old barrels. Aromas of spice, bright berry fruits, and floral notes of violets and rose petals is followed by a juicy, mild and gentle palate. Raspberry, cranberry, and wild strawberry flavors dominate, within a medium-bodied, textured, and elegant mouthfeel. 2009 is a heralded vintage in Burgundy, receiving 95 points overall from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. Tasting $16.99

Duckhorn Decoy Chardonnay 2010– Sonoma County. “Made from a careful selection of top Sonoma County Chardonnay, with an emphasis on grapes from the cooler Sonoma Coast.” 30% of the cuvee fermented in barrel and 70% fermented in stainless steel. “This fresh and attractive wine displays aromas of white flowers, green apple with hints of exotic grapefruit, guava, flint, and wet stone. There is great flavor impact on the palate with fresh and lively acidity, it is ideal for youthful enjoyment” winemaker’s notes (Migration Winemaker Neil Bernardi). Tasting $17.99

Duckhorn Decoy Pinot Noir 2010– Sonoma County. The wine aged in French oak, 10% new and 90% once-used Burgundy barrels, for 6 months. “The aromas offer enticing layers of ripe strawberry, French plum, loganberry and anise, with hints of blueberry, cola and spice. On the palate, this medium-weight wine is graceful and inviting with abundant red fruit notes of raspberry, cherry and plum, as well as more sophisticated elements of forest floor and tobacco leaf, all supported by firm, age-worthy tannins and a streak of uplifting acidity” winemaker’s notes (Migration Winemaker Neil Bernardi and Goldeneye Winemaker Zach Rasmuson). Tasting $20.99

Duckhorn Decoy Red 2010– Napa Valley. A blend of 52% Merlot, 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2% Petit Verdot that aged for 12 months in French oak (Bordeaux-style) barrels, 5% new, 95% once-used. “The 2010 vintage has yielded a voluptuous expression of our Decoy Red Wine with alluring aromas of blackberry, blueberry, black currant and raspberry, supported by holiday spice notes of cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom. On the palate, this wine is lush and juicy, with a fleshy mid-palate and soft, velvety tannins. Subtle oak-inspired elements of cedar and walnut accentuate the rich dark fruit flavors, giving them an enticing berry pie/cobbler quality” winemaker’s notes (Bill Nancarrow, executive winemaker, oversees the crafting of Decoy’s Bordeaux varietal wines). Tasting $23.99

Duckhorn Decoy Zinfandel 2009– Sonoma County. Aged in American oak barrels, 30% new and 70% once-used. “This enticing Sonoma County wine highlights a bright red-fruit and spice expression of Zinfandel. The aromas are ripe and appealing, offering layers of strawberry jam, raspberry and sweet vanilla, as well as hints of chocolate-covered cherries and white pepper. On the palate, the entry is full and balanced with lovely cranberry notes supported by the subtle influence of fine oak.”-Winemaker’s notes (Paraduxx Winemaker David Marchesi)

“Full bodied and quite ripe in flavor, this is a smoothly textured, relatively rich Zin, with black currant, toast, pepper, mint and oak aromas/flavors and a lightly oaky finish.” -Ronn Weigand, Restaurant Wine (4 stars). Tasting $20.99

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