Representing less than 10% of the surface planted, the six acres of our Chardonnay plantations are pinpointed in three small blocks selected specifically for their shallow soils. As with the estate's Pinot Noir, the plantings imitate the high-density Burgundian model with over 3,000 vines per acre. The tight spacing encourages competition among the plants, yielding smaller clusters and berries and thus, more concentrated fruit. The first plantation took place in 1990, followed by more planting in 1992 and 1994 principally. The grapes were hand-picked into small crates to protect the berries from being crushed in the field. After gently pressing, the wines were allowed to ferment naturally in barrels with their indigenous yeasts. As with all of the wines from the Domaine, new oak was held below 25% to preserve the character of the fruit and terroir.
1996 presented an ideal Oregon growing season: a mild summer allowed the grapes to develop delicate, complex flavors while the harvest time of late September and October was warm and mainly dry to yield fruit with good balance between sugar and acidity.
Why a chardonnay at Domaine Drouhin Oregon? For Robert Drouhin and his family, the raison d'etre of Domaine Drouhin Oregon has been Pinot Noir. The exceptional soils and climate marry to produce wines of breed, grace and longevity. Still, being Burgundian in origin, the Domaine has always been tempted by that other grape of its patrimony, Chardonnay. Over several years, Robert and Veronique, have quietly conducted many trials with small batches grown from the classical Burgundian clones to produce their first offering which they feel exemplifies the elegance possible in Oregon Chardonnay. Gold color with green hue; the nose is pure with delicate floral aromas as vine-blossom, fern and acacia. On the palate, subtle honey, hazelnut and toasted bread flavors; vibrant acidity and a long steely finish give the wine great dimension and distinctive elegance. Only 450 cases were produced.