Two years ago I was lucky enough to be invited to Per Se to taste the 2015 release of Domaine de la Romanee Conti Wines. Thankfully I was an invited guest because drinking Romanee Conti at Per Se would probably have run me a cool $20k. The table had 13 people and I wanted to make sure I was near the owner of DRC, Aubert de Villaine. As soon as I sat down, I was asked to move over one seat so another guest could sit next to Aubert. I obliged but certainly was wondering who I got bumped for. Turns out it was the wine critic, James Suckling. Oh well– I guess I understood. I think I got a little lucky though because I ended up sitting next to Bertrand de Villaine. That’s Aubert’s nephew and his all around right-hand man.
Apparently he’s also the heir to the throne & has been learning at the side of the master for years. I asked him if he was working on anything else. He played a little coy but ultimately he told me that he’s been working on a project in Oregon. I asked him the name of it & he just put his finger over his lips (can’t do that now for sure). Apparently it’s a secret project…..Well it took me 2 years, but I figured it out. My friend who invited me to that special lunch brought me a new pinot that he wanted me to taste. The moment I smelled the wine I said “this is Bertrand’s isn’t it “? He just smirked and said “there is something seriously wrong with you”. Look, is it a dead ringer for Burgundy’s greatest Grand Crus? That’s a very tall order, but the similar characteristics and stunning quality are unmistakable & this wine has that magic touch I couldn’t miss.
The Willamette Valley has seen a fury of Burgundian winemakers pile into the state in the past decade, from Louis Jadot to Domaine Drouhin to Bertrand’s old colleague at DRC, Thomas Savre at Lingua Franca. The similarities in the region especially in the cooler Willamette sites are undeniable. Today’s wine, Bertrand de Villane’s new project, comes from atop Winter’s Hill in the Dundee Hills, adjacent from Domaine Serene. With breezy, cool nights akin to summer in Vosne-Romanee, Bertrand was able to create a Burgundian style gem with the same oak regiment and juicy Pommard clones that make this a wine you’ll want to drink and hold for the next ten years, easy. We’re the first in the country to have a shot at this wine. I guess I made a good impression!