Disclosure: The wine was provided to me as media samples. All opinions are my own.
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It is no secret that Oregon produces top-quality Pinot Noir. Wine pioneers of Oregon’s Willamette Valley back in the 1960s knew the soils and climate were ideal for growing Pinot Noir. Even the French, producers of the world’s highest quality Pinot Noir took notice of Oregon and started expanding into the region. The French invasion started with Maison Joseph Drouhin in 1987 when he decided to purchase land in the Willamette Valley AVA sub-appellation of Dundee Hills. Soon other French wine houses would follow, including Maison Louis Jadot in 2013, purchasing the Résonance Vineyard in the sub-appellation of Yamhill-Carlton, also part of the Willamette Valley.
This month the French Winophiles are taking a closer look at Oregon + Bourgogne Tied Houses. Some in the group received samples from Domaine Drouhin Oregon and Résonance to taste and perhaps pair with a dish. I received a bottle of Résonance Découverte Vineyard Pinot Noir and paired it with Braised Chicken Thighs, Blackberries, and Fennel Purée. Join our Twitter chat on the subject, Saturday, December 19th, 2020, at 11:00 AM ET. Don’t miss more articles from the French Winophiles on Oregon + Bourgogne Tied Houses at the end of this post.
Fast Facts on Willamette Valley
- The climate is a mix of Mediterranean and oceanic influences. The winters are cool and wet, and the summers are warm and dry.
- In 1965 David Lett planted the first Pinot Noir vines in Oregon.
- The Willamette Valley AVA has nine sub-AVA’s; Chehalem Mountains, Dundee Hills, Eola-Amity Hills, McMinnville, Ribbon Ridge, Yamhill-Carlton, Van Duzer Corridor (added in Janurary 2019), Tualatin Hills, and Laurelwood District (added in June 2020).
- Total planted vineyard acres in Willamette Valley is 25,452; of that total, 17,645 are Pinot Noir.
- A total of 676 wineries.
- The soils are mainly Marine Sedimentary: Willakenzie displaying a more delicate, expressive, and feminine quality in the wine and Volcanic (Basalt): Jory and Nekia generally showing a more masculine and mineral-driven wine.
How do Oregon and Bourgogne Pinot Noir wines compare
According to Véronique Boss-Drouhin, fourth-generation winemaker at Domaine Drouhin Oregon, “Oregon wines have a darker color with spicy nuances, notes of currant, and very silky tannins.” “The challenge in Oregon is to maintain elegance in the wine. The challenge in Burgundy, where the wines are always elegant, is to produce a wine with some weight.”
Résonance Wines founded in 2013 after the then president of Maison Louis Jadot, Pierre-Henry Gagey, was impressed with Oregon wines’ quality. It was Louis Jadot’s first wine venture outside of Burgundy. The 20-acre estate Rèsonance vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA is one of the oldest dry-farmed vineyards in Willamette Valley on original non-grafted rootstock. Leading the Résonance project is Jacques Lardière, former winemaker at Jadot, with over 42 years of experience making Pinot Noir in Burgundy. A second estate vineyard, Découverte, is located in the Dundee Hills AVA with 18-acres.
2017 Résonance Découverte Vineyard Dundee Hills, Oregon
13.5% abv | $70.00 (sample) | 100% Pinot Noir
The grapes are hand-harvested. The juice is fermented in small tanks by vineyard block. The wine is aged in custom handcrafted French oak barrels (30% new) selected for the right tightness of grain and the soil in which the oak grew.
Medium(-) ruby in color. Aromas of red fruit, spices, earth, and mint. On the palate, dry with medium body and medium (+) acidity and fine-grained tannins. Flavors of cherry, blackberries, cinnamon, dried herbs, black tea, and minerals. An elegant, well-structured wine with a lingering mineral-driven finish.
Food Pairing Notes
I paired the Résonance Découverte Vineyard Pinot Noir with braised chicken thighs, blackberries, and a fennel purée. The dish has many Pinot Noir friendly elements that make for a beautiful pairing – earthy ingredients like the onions, thyme, bay leaves, and fennel, spice notes like cinnamon, fruit, and the rich, silky fennel purée balances the wine’s acidity and tannins.
Braised Chicken Thighs, Blackberries, and Fennel Purée
- 6 chicken thighs, with bone-in and skin-on
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup Pinot Noir
- 6 + sprigs thyme extra for garnish
- 2 white onions, chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 2 cups fresh black berries
- 1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 1-1-1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
- 2 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quarters
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 2 medium fennel bulbs, roughly chopped reserve some green tops for garnish
- 1/4 cup Chardonnay
- 2 tablespoons low sodium chicken broth
- 1 tablespoons fennel seeds, crushed
- 1 cup heavy cream
- salt and pepper
For the Chicken
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a heavy ovenproof 12-inch skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken thighs to the skillet and brown the chicken on both sides, about 7 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate and drain the skillet of any excess fat.
- Add the wine to the skillet and scrape any browned bits from the skillet; do not let the wine boil. Add the thyme, onions, carrots, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, fennel seeds, 1 cup of blackberries, and the chopped fennel, stir to combine. Then add the chicken thighs back to the skillet along with just enough chicken broth to fill the skillet halfway, the chicken should not be submerged. Bring to a boil. Transfer the skillet to the oven and braise for 45 minutes, or until the chicken is tender.
For the Fennel Purée
- While the chicken is braising, make the fennel purée. In a large stockpot, add the potatoes and cover with water. Add 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil and cook for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
- While the potatoes cook, make the fennel. In a 2 qt. saucepan, combine the chopped fennel, Chardonnay, chicken broth, and fennel seeds. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the liquid has evaporated. Add the heavy cream and simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes or until the fennel is tender. Purée the fennel mixture in a food processor until smooth.
- Drain the potatoes and mash with a potato masher until smooth. Stir in the fennel purée and season with 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper. Cover with foil to keep them warm and set aside.
- Remove the chicken from the oven. Remove the bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, and thyme sprigs. Taste the sauce and adjust for seasoning.
- Place a chicken thigh in each shallow bowl and add a spoonful of fennel purée. Add a 1/4 cup of the remaining blackberries per bowl and spoon some sauce over the top. Garnish with thyme sprigs or green fennel tops.
More articles from the French Winophiles on Oregon + Bourgogne Tied Houses~
- Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm tells of Countries United Through Food and Wine.
- Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla matches Galette au Chou + 2017 Résonance Pinot Noir.
- Terri at Our Good Life pairs Resonance Pinot Noir and Roasted Pork Loin.
- Lynn from Savor the Harvest posts Oregon Pinot Noir With a Burgundian Heart – Domaine Drouhin Laurène.
- Jennifer at Vino Travels cooks up BBQ Brisket with Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir.
- Linda at My Full Wine Glass shares Oregon PN for a PNW Holiday Meal: A Résonance.
- Robin from Crushed Grape Chronicles has a discovery: Découverte! Pinot Noir from Oregon’s Dundee Hills and Mediterranean Salmon.
- David from Cooking Chat posts Braised Moroccan Chicken Thighs with Oregon Pinot.
- Jane from Always Ravenous offers an Oregon Pinot Noir Paired with Braised Chicken Thighs, Blackberries, and Fennel Purée.
- Melanie from Wining With Mel writes New World meets Old World: Oregon’s Résonance Pinot Noir Paired with Beef Bourguignon.
- Liz from What’s In That Bottle gives us A Taste of the 45th Parallel.
- Jeff from Food Wine Click! tells us about Louis Jadot on Both Sides of the Pond.
- Payal from Keep the Peas offers Burgundy via Oregon.
- Nicole at Somm’s Table has a Burgundy vs. Oregon Showdown with Drouhin Wines.
- Jill at L’Occasion covers Bourgogne’s Western Vineyards: Crafting Pinot Noir in Oregon.
- Gwendolyn at Wine Predator goes From France’s Bourgogne and Oregon’s Willamette Valley: Domaine Drouhin Does Pinot Noir.
- Cindy from Grape Experiences offers Résonance Wines Express a Burgundian Vibe in the Willamette Valley.
- L.M. Archer shares life À Table with Domaine Drouhin Oregon and Résonance Wines.
- And Michelle, of Rockin Red Blog, shared a post on Forbes for this topic: Best Of Both Worlds: Burgundy Producers Craft High-Quality Wine In Willamette Valley.