[WINE REVIEW] Oregon’s 2009 Joseph Dobbes Cuvee Exceptionelle

[review] In 2002, after 17 years in the business working for others internationally and in Oregon, Joe Dobbes started his own wine business with a small amount of money in his back pocket, a lot of experience and passion, and sufficient ignorance of what he was up against. Eleven years later Joe is the sole owner of Dobbes Family Estate and Wine by Joe and attributes the success of his winery to a team of determined, honest and hardworking oenophiles…it’s passion you end up tasting in every bottle they produce.

The focus at Joe Dobbes is on Burgundian varietals:  Pinot Noir and Chardonnay primarily and Rhone varietals: Syrah, Viognier and Grenache Blanc. We had a chance to taste the exceptional 2009 Joseph Dobbes Cuvee Exceptionelle and catch up with Joe about his start as a wine maker and his philosophy as a vintner. He told us one day he just woke up and realized it was time to do his own thing…the result is some fantastic wine and great vineyard out of Oregon, of all places.

Part of the  214-acre Larkins Estate Vineyard in Oregon that makes up Joe Dobbes Estate
Part of the 214-acre Larkins Estate Vineyard in Oregon that makes up Joe Dobbes Estate

Joe told us his philosophy at the Dobbes Family Estate is “Don’t take any shortcuts early in the season in the management and it will pay off later. Be patient, pay attention and pick when the flavors tell you to do so.·  We focus on balance primarily. I look for depth, elegance and texture. If you have a wine that is in balance between fruit, acidity and rich mouthfeel, then you have a trifecta. It starts in the vineyard. Hundreds of decisions add up to the final quality.”

They also focus on being as sustainable as possible and are part of the movement among Oregon wineries to practice environmentally responsible farming and winemaking. Their Larkins Estate Vineyard is LIVE (Low Input Viticulture and Enology) certified, and their custom winemaking facility was the first in the state of Oregon to earn that designation. But being sensitive to the land and living things around them isn’t just about the awards for the Joe Dobbes team—it’s about awareness and utilizing resources to be the very best they can be, while creating the very best wine that they can. It’s a stellar combination.

Grapes ready for their custom crush at the Joe Dobbes Estate
Grapes ready for their custom crush at the Joe Dobbes Estate

Joe told us “Globally, our efforts make a very small impact. But up close — in our tiny neck of the woods and in the hearts and minds of everyone connected to Dobbes Family Estate and Wine By Joe — it makes a world of difference.”

The 2009 Joseph Dobbes Cuvee Exceptionelle we tasted was pretty spectacular after a good decanting, but to honest, what we mostly saw was the potential. This is a dark and brooding Pinot Noir with tremendous aging potential, benefiting from at least one more year in bottle and peaking right before 2020. Sweet aggressive tannins reach your palate from the eighteen months of barrel time. Eucalyptus, cocoa, and cigar box are all very present and still subdued. There’s a lot of grip that is appealing now and will develop into sensuous body later. Baked cherry and blackberry cobbler with caramelized crust. Rich velvet chocolate warm cake. This felt like dessert again and again.

Some of Joe's wine ready to ship out
Some of Joe’s wine ready to ship out

We asked Joe his thoughts on aging wine. “I would prefer a wine that is too youthful over a wine that is too old. I am a fruit freak.  Yes, at some point they must be enjoyed.  If you find something you like, then buy multiple bottles and enjoy it over a period of time and watch how it changes.  This way you can likely drink most of it when it is at its peak. Balance, balance,  balance foremost create a great bottle of wine.”

He ended our tasting on this note (pun intended). “All the following give me inspiration and it emanates from  deep inside….just who and what I am: Creating something that puts a smile on someone’s face gives me inspiration.  Creating something from a grape cluster on the vine which is have watched grow all season is pretty cool.  Overcoming challenges along the way and enjoying the triumphs years later in the glass.” – Joe Dobbes