Roserock – A Sense of Place
Nov 01, 2019
I remember once reading about a California pension fund that purchased a vineyard in Oregon and hearing how well it paid off when they sold it. I forgot the name of the vineyard but remembered it was Rose-something. Flash forward to July of 2019 while on a Dreyfus Ashby sponsored visit with a group of other people in the wine industry, including a handful of Wine Warehouse colleagues, when I suddenly realized I was standing in the vineyard I had read about a few years earlier. It felt like I was at a juncture in time. Gazing at the vineyard made the experience tangible.
We stood together, about 650 feet above sea level tasting Roserock Chardonnay and Pinot Noir near a pond adjacent to Roserock Vineyard. Our hosts, the Drouhins, purchased the site originally planted by pioneering viticulturist William Hill, as it was about to enter its second decade, a prime time in the age of a vineyard. Between the William Hill era and the start of the Drouhin ownership, Roserock was an investment instrument held by the California Public Employee Retirement System (CalPERS).
The fund administrators made a wise investment. Given its enviable location in the Eola-Amity Hills, Roserock’s grapes were not only easy to sell but in high demand. Top wineries came calling and soon numerous wines made from Roserock grapes started earning consistent high scores and accolades from tough wine critics. This did not go unnoticed by neighboring Oregon wineries, many of whom were on the lookout for additional quality grape sources.
In a sense, with Roserock Vineyard now in the Drouhin family’s hands, the story is just beginning. I felt this tasting the wines and listening to our hosts while walking through the vineyard. Both wine and story poured into my glass and consciousness simultaneously. I got the connection: this was an Oregon flavor, but a strictly Burgundian style of wine. Distinctive fruit married to classic texture. Whatever terroir characteristics were in play, the essential story is this vineyard produces incredibly complete and healthy fruit. Add to that equation the talents of Véronique Drouhin, an extremely gifted winemaker with over 30 harvests in Burgundy and the Willamette Valley under her belt, and this is a recipe for excellence.
I’ll let the wines tell the rest of the story.
RoseRock Chardonnay 2016
Brings together the estate’s three Chardonnay blocks, which are handpicked and table-sorted. The Chardonnay is pressed immediately and sent in equal parts to tank and barrel. Once malolactic fermentation is complete, Véronique blends the separate portions into her final cuvée.
The 2016 growing season in Oregon started with a surprisingly warm spring and moved seamlessly into a classic Oregon summer of warm days and cool nights. Interestingly, the harvest is one of the earliest on record, but with accumulated heat totals below either of the two previous vintages, both considered top tier. Picking began in early September under mostly clear skies. The fruit was in beautiful condition and required minimal sorting.
VÉRONIQUE’S TASTING NOTES
“This Roserock Chardonnay is vibrant and round, with broad floral notes and energetic touches of noisette, peach and pear. The palate’s enveloping texture is balanced by clear structure and a sense of minerality. It is an elegant and complex wine, with a long finish, and I expect this vintage to evolve nicely over the next few years.”
RoseRock Pinot Noir 2016
A cuvée selection based on site, in this case, 35 smaller estate blocks, all of which are handpicked, carefully sorted and individually fermented. While Pinot Noirs from the Eola-Amity Hills are typically known for their structure and power, with Roserock, Véronique Drouhin prefers to emphasize elegance and refinement. Flavor expression and age-worthy attributes are guiding principles.
The 2016 growing season in Oregon started with a surprisingly warm spring, and moved seamlessly into a classic Oregon summer of warm days and cool nights. Interestingly, though the harvest is one of the earliest on record, the accumulated heat was less than either of the two previous vintages, and both of those are considered to be in the top tier.
VÉRONIQUE’S TASTING NOTES
“Capturing the eye, charming the nose and enchanting the palate, the 2016 Roserock Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir has a velvety approach and focused structure. Balanced and long on the palate, the elegance shines through many layers of flavors. This is a wine that will be delicious young but that has a bright future.”
RoseRock Zéphirine Pinot Noir 2016 *Sold Out – Don’t miss next release in 2020*
A barrel selection cuvée, recognized as a reference expression of its site. Zéphirine expresses purity and balance, as it boldly reflects Véronique Drouhin’s dedication to elegance and finesse. Zéphirine is made to last and will age meaningfully for years to come.
The name refers to the Zéphirine Drouhin, a variety of climbing rose, known for expressive fragrance and striking beauty. The 2016 growing season in Oregon started with a warm spring and stayed that way through a long, relatively trouble-free summer.
VÉRONIQUE’S TASTING NOTES
“The 2016 Zéphirine displays exuberance and serious aromatic depth. Violets, lilac, and primary red fruits come to mind immediately, balanced by a delightful mouthfeel. The layered palate presents complex flavors of cassis and red berry bramble, which fold nicely into each other. There is great freshness, soft, silky tannins and a persistent, long finish. Over the course of a few hours, the mouth weight deepens, and the finish becomes even longer. The 2016 Zéphirine is a delightful, deep experience which can be enjoyed now and over the next 10 or more years.”
Meet the Winemaker
Véronique Drouhin-Boss, the fourth-generation winemaker of the Drouhin family, has lovingly crafted every drop of wine produced at Domaine Drouhin Oregon since its first vintage in 1988. She also now oversees the winemaking at Maison Joseph Drouhin in Burgundy, producing some of the world’s finest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines on both sides of the Atlantic. Véronique’s interest in wine and the family business began when she was young and blossomed under the tutelage of her father Robert Drouhin. In 1986, she graduated from the University of Dijon with an advanced degree in enology, and decided to venture to Oregon to expand her experience and learn more about the fledgling industry that was beginning to take root in the Willamette Valley. Véronique interned that year with Adelsheim Vineyards, Bethel Heights and Eyrie. She has returned to Oregon every year since then to capture the essence of what nature provides in Drouhin’s unique estate vineyards. In many ways, Véronique embodies the essence of Pinot Noir—spirited, graceful and feminine. Her wines at Domaine Drouhin RoseRock have always been hallmarked by elegance, finesse, purity and the capacity to improve gracefully with age.
“Super fresh aromas of lemon and lime zest, leading to fresh white peaches. This has a very impressive sense of purity and clarity that follows to the fresh, linear palate. Impressively refined chardonnay.’’ 94pts James Suckling
“Impeccable fruit purity and freshness here make for an immediately appealing nose with a central thread of ripe cherries. The palate has beautiful definition and detail with striking fruit purity Holds long and supple.’’ 94pts James Suckling
“Such pure aromas of vibrant, red and darker cherries and subtle, foresty complexity. The palate has a very subtle, lithe and juicy feel with abundant and intense, concentrated and very pure, red and black-cherry flavors.’’ 97pts James Suckling