William Hatcher, who left Domaine Drouhin Oregon in 2001 after managing the winery from its inception in 1987, has started a new wine company in partnership with his wife, Deborah. Their venture will focus on Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.
Hatcher Wine Works plans to produce a 2002 Pinot Noir from 8 tons of grapes purchased from four vineyards in the valley; the price of the wine has yet to be determined. The 2002 Pinot Noir will be made at Erath winery.
But the first product from Hatcher is A to Z (89 points, $19), a 2001 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir made from purchased wines. Just now being released on the West Coast, the wine has a firm texture, and it glows with cherry and berry flavors, picking up some nice floral and spice notes.
"It would have been impossible to make a good négociant-style wine only a couple of years ago in Oregon," said Hatcher. "Every grape was spoken for. No one had any wine to spare. But there's been so much planting in the past few years, it's backing up. There are a lot of young vines out there, and the name-brand wineries can't use it all. We're ready to bottle it and put it out at a good price."
Hatcher hopes to make 500 cases in 2002 of his own Pinot Noir, increasing in future years to 1,500 cases. Wine declassified from that project would go into A to Z to be blended with wines purchased on the bulk market. The first vintage of A to Z numbers 2,600 cases, and Hatcher hopes to increase production to 5,000 cases.
"There's going to be a lake of Pinot Noir in Oregon as new vineyards come into production in the next two or three years," Hatcher elaborated. "They're projecting the total volume to double by 2004. I don't think we're going to have trouble finding good wine to bottle."
The Hatchers plan to insulate a barn on their property in which to age the wines. They live in a house on Archery Summit Road, just down the track from three of Oregon's highest-profile wineries: Archery Summit, Domaine Drouhin and Domaine Serene.
"We were thinking of building a winery, but in that neighborhood, it would be like putting up a trailer in Beverly Hills," said Hatcher. "I think it's better to wait and see whether something more appropriate comes onto the market in the next couple of years."
Check our recent ratings of Domaine Drouhin wines.
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Read Harvey Steiman's most recent Oregon tasting report:
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