2014 Division Wine Co. Villages Béton
Applegate and Willamette Valleys, Oregon
Cabernet Franc (65%), Gamay (30%), Pinot Noir (5%)
This wine delivered in every way I wanted it to.
I picked it up on a recent trip to Portland, Oregon, and it’s a good reason why I think Oregon is the best source of intriguing, old world-style wines in the US today. Outside of France, it’s hard to imagine a cool-climate wine of this quality coming from anywhere else in the states, or in the world for that matter. Even more, it comes from an urban winery housed in the SE Wine Collective, a winery coop of sorts on Division Street in Portland that is home to a number of winemakers and labels.
This is an outstanding bottle of wine, with a lovely balance of complex fruit, lively acidity, and minerality. The grapes come from several vineyards, with the Cabernet Franc coming from Quady Vineyard in southern Oregon’s Applegate Valley AVA and the Gamay and Pinot Noir coming from the Methven Family Vineyards in the Eola Amity Hills AVA in Willamette Valley. The wine was aged in concrete (Béton is French for concrete) and underwent partial carbonic maceration, which adds a pleasant fruitiness to the blend. Only 300 cases were produced and it’s tough (or impossible) to get outside of Oregon unless you order it direct.
Fresh and lively, reminiscent of some of the Loire Valley’s best Cabernet Franc and pinot noir, this blend of Cabernet Franc, Gamay, and Pinot Noir from Oregon’s Division Wine Company is one of the most exciting American wines I’ve tasted in the last year. 2014 was a decidedly warm vintage throughout all of Oregon, but DWC did well to slow ripening and contain vigor in the vineyard with the goal of retaining natural acidity and inhibiting excessive sugar levels.
The result is a balanced, medium bodied red wine with a well-integrated nose and a liveliness that made me nearly polish off the entire bottle myself. The nose is bright but characterized by darker fruits: plum and black/red currant, as well as a lightly smoky, green bell pepper (pyrazine) component. The minerality carries through to the palate and reminds me a bit of the Cru Beaujolais. If I hadn’t known otherwise, the hefty fruit profile and finesse of the wine would have made me think the wine was far more expensive. Can’t say it enough, this was outstanding. Incredibly drinkable, but not without intrigue and complexity, exactly what I look for in a $20 wine.
Eric Asimov of the New York Times praised the Division Wine Company’s Gamay last year, and if this red blend is any indication, there are only more exciting things to come from them. Don’t forget to check out their website!