The Path to Cameron Wines

From John, February 14th, 2020

Part 1:  Clos Electrique Blanc

White Burgundy is arguably one of the greatest genres of wine on the planet. And with over 300 years of viticultural selections and winemaking techniques, it seemed silly to me to try and invent or emulate anything else in the world of Chardonnay. A visit to the cave of the Comte de Lafon and the young winemaker Dominique Lafon in 1981 inspired and cemented my relationship to the Burgundian approach. Later visits to the caves of François Jobard and Jean-Claude Ramonet further refined my techniques. All of these fabulous winemakers were generous with their knowledge to those willing to listen. And so it began.

I was also very lucky to have friends in the California wine industry who helped me find amazing old Burgundy clones, many of which had been originally introduced by legendary early California winemakers such as Carl Wente and Paul Masson. Among the people who helped me were Mary Edwards (who at that point was with Matanzas Creek), Larry Hyde (already making a name for himself in the Napa Valley) and Jeffrey Patterson (Mt. Eden Vineyards). What I brought north to Oregon in the mid-80’s constituted a treasure trove of old Burgundian viticulture which had been disseminated across California mostly during the early part of the 20th century.

And while great wine is truly made in the vineyard, it is also made (or at least augmented) in the cellar. And it was at this point that I was able to introduce some of the techniques of the Burgundian winemakers to bring out the inherent greatness in the Burgundian clones. Obviously Oregon weather, which so closely resembles that of Burgundy, helps make all of this possible. So I would be remiss in not giving a nod to the shitty winter weather, schizophrenic springs and surprises of summer that characterize Oregon!

And finally there is the element of patience. It takes time to establish a dry farmed vineyard and even more so with many of the low vigor clones here-in that make such fabulous wine (it takes usually 7-8 years before a moderate crop can be achieved). Nor can the wine be rushed through the fermentation and aging phase in the cellar (it is necessary to leave the wine in barrique on the yeast sediment for 2 years before it is ready to be bottled). And at this point, the patience must be transferred to you the consumer: yes you can drink this wine now but oh how much better if you are able to cellar it for an additional 10!!

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