At Barnes & Noble a few days ago, I picked up Red, White, and Drunk All by Natalie MacLean, hoping for a light read to accompany the other two more technical and detailed books I am also reading (see first post). Alas, MacLean writes not only in a captivating narrative style, all about her experiences around the world at various vineyards and restaurants, but provides definitions for those just starting to understand it all (comme moi). She also recounts the history of the wineries she visits, the winemakers and vineyard owners she interviews, and the viticulture of the different regions. I just finished reading chapter 1, all about wines from Burgundy in France, when she introduces the wine of the Drouhin Family. Referred to as a negociant, a company that “buy grapes and wine from different vineyards throughout the region” (pg. 17), the Drouhin company blends these with their own grapes to produce a Burgundian wine that is affordable, often good quality, and not as pricey as the more “pure” wines from a vineyard like the Domaine de la Romanee-Conti (think thousands!).
Where had I heard this name before? Drouhin, Drouhin, Drouhin... Then it hit me and off I went to sort through my photos from this past summer, when I ventured into Oregon wine country to taste and get a little tipsy with good friends visiting from Arizona. Ah, there! Among the pictures my dutiful boyfriend had snapped of the bunch of us enjoying the fruit of the vine a little too much, was a close-up of the sign for Domaine Drouhin, the Oregon-based winery of the same French family that MacLean interviews in her book.
I remember the wine being spectacular, but even more than that, taking in the expansive vineyard, criss-crossed by hundreds and thousands of vines, was close to spiritual. It reminds me of the same experience MacLean had in Burgundy when she sipped vintages and learned just how immersed French wines and their makers are in the land from which they come. I have to concur with Ernest Hemingway, who wrote, “Wine…offers a greater range of enjoyment and appreciation than possibly any other purely sensory thing which may be purchased.” While I paid for the tasting, it was money well spent on the sensual experience of sipping world-class pinots, and spending an hour traversing the vines that belonged to a family who owned a centuries-old vineyard thousands of miles away deep in Burgundy wine country. Truly mesmerizing, especially provided with more context from my reading today.