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Domaine Divio - The Essential Oregon Wine Club
Virtually all wineries have wine clubs. Few offer club members such a splendid range of Burgundy-influenced wine.
My visit to Domaine Divio a few weeks ago was truly the highlight of a very exciting trip. I never miss a chance to sit down with owner/vigneron Bruno Corneaux, and on this visit we spent a great deal of time together, not only at the winery but at dinner, at the massive Northwest Wine Co. production facility where some of these wines are made, and exploring the Hyland vineyard, one of Oregon’s oldest, which he manages.
Along the way I tasted at least a couple dozen Domaine Divio wines, many not yet released. Almost all of them are produced in very small case quantities. In fact the winery’s total production has topped out at about 6000 cases; even the more widely available ‘Les Climats’ Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs don’t reach big production numbers.
As I wrote in my previous March ‘22 winery profile, Domaine Divio was founded in 2014 with a keen focus on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, along with forays into sparkling wines, rosés, Passetoutgrain and Pinot Beurot (Pinot Gris). Without exception, and having tasted many Divio wines from every vintage, I have found them to be exceptional for their structure, balance, texture, length and finesse.
A fourth generation Burgundy native, Corneaux acquired his extensive scientific knowledge as a Chemistry Analyzer while working on his Master’s degree in Enology & Viticulture. He followed his graduation with work experience in vineyards and wineries in South Africa, California, Oregon and Washington. In 2014 Corneaux and business partner André Weil founded Domaine Divio and planted their estate (Clos Gallia) vineyard in the Willamette Valley’s Ribbon Ridge AVA.
The reason I am urging you to join the Domaine Divio wine club is that so many of the finest wines are available to club members exclusively. All too often I see wineries that bottle a few cases of incomplete wines from leftover barrels, put a high price tag on them, and offer them as club or tasting room exclusives. That is not true here. Although there are many different wines made, they are each distinctive, complete and priced competitively. For the quality, I think they are genuine bargains.
I wish I had better notes on all the wines I tasted at the winery, but they flew by quite quickly and my impressions were a bit rushed. The wines I brought home and tasted over several days got a much more thorough look and consequently I’m confident with the scores published below. Here are a few highlights. Where a wine is not yet released, I suggest you keep an eye on the website or better yet, join the club.
Domaine Divio 2022 Aligoté – This is the every day white wine in Burgundy. It is often mixed with crème de cassis to make kir which, I am told, was invented by the mayor of Dijon. This young wine is sharp, racy, spicy and immaculately fresh, with a nice juicy flavor highlighted with fresh salad greens. 62 cases; 12.5%; $32 (Willamette Valley) 92/100
Domaine Divio 2021 Les Climats Chardonnay – The back label provides this explanation of the term: "In Burgundy we talk about 'Climats' to describe what makes certain vineyards special and unique. The term is more specific than 'terroir' as it encompasses both terroir and the micro-climate, and therefore takes into account the soil, aspect, elevation and weather specific to a given area." This compelling wine fills the palate with well-textured flavors of tree fruits, citrus rind, seashell minerality and herbal tea. It's dense and detailed, long and compelling. 13.3%; $30 (Willamette Valley) 96/100
Domaine Divio 2021 Clos Gallia Estate Chardonnay – The estate vineyard was about six years old when these grapes were picked. The flavors reflect that youth, with green citrus, apple and lime in particular. Juicy acids keep the wine lively and the palate fresh, with a kiss of new oak decorating the finish. 132 cases; 13.4%; $65 (Ribbon Ridge) 94/100
Domaine Divio 2021 Les Climats Pinot Noir – This is a blend of different vineyard sources and a fine entry to Bruno Corneaux's expansive and brilliant portfolio. An aromatic blend of berries, from raspberries to blueberries to Marionberries and more, it goes on and on. There's a satiny quality to the flavors, which bring in lovely accents of milk chocolate and butter pecan. Polished tannins add a hint of black olive, along with an umami-inflected savory note. Check website for availability. 13.2%; $30 (Willamette Valley) 93/100
Domaine Divio 2021 Willamette Valley Reserve Pinot Noir – I would call this the reserve version of the Les Climats bottling, sourced from a variety of vineyards. It's tight, tannic, steely and dense, with compact blackberry and black cherry fruits. You'll want to give this plenty of time to unpack. Recommended drinking window 2025 to 2035. Check website for availability. 13.5%; $45 (Willamette Valley) 93/100
Domaine Divio 2021 Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir – Bruno Corneaux does a series of AVA-specific Pinots, a series of vineyard-specific Pinots, and a varied collection sourced from his estate vineyard and other sites throughout the Willamette Valley. This takes a gentle approach to this AVA, which can be aggressively herbal at times. Here the savory flavors are softened and wrapped in blue fruits. With ample breathing touches of toasted coconut and almond paste come out. It's beautifully balanced and ready to enjoy. 10/23 release. 125 cases; 13.8%; $60 (Eola-Amity Hills) 93/100
Domaine Divio 2021 Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir – Smooth and lightly chocolatey, this is part of the winery's AVA-specific series. It's exceptionally approachable, balanced and well-integrated – a style that makes even such a young wine attractive for near-term drinking. The sturdy tannins are the marker for this bottling; the clean, precise flavors are exactly what you'd hope for in a young Pinot Noir. This was still drinking very nicely on the third day. A late summer release is planned. 125 cases; 13.9%; $60 (Yamhill-Carlton) 93/100
Domaine Divio 2021 Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir – This AVA includes the winery's Ribbon Ridge sub-AVA, and this wine comes very close to the Ribbon Ridge and estate bottlings. Firm, dark and etched in seashell highlights, this belies its moderate alcohol and feels big, sturdy and strong. Tannins are polished and dark, with threads of lead pencil and black olive snaking through the black fruits. It's a tight young wine with excellent aging potential. 11/23 release. 120 cases; 13.6%; $60 (Chehalem Mountains) 94/100
Stay tuned for more notes on the single vineyard and estate Pinots. I’ll post those notes up in a few days. And please share these comments and scores with your friends, neighbors, employees, Fed-Ex and UPS drivers…. I urge everyone to sign up for a free subscription. Cheers!