80's Cameron, Adelsheim and LeClerc

A good friend came over tonight for dinner. The menu consisted of a delicious classic lemon roasted chicken with rosemary croutons and sauteed brussel sprouts with lardons and parmesan. After a nice bottle of 99 Chauvet Special Club bubbles, we thought since Cameron seems to have a lot of followers on the board, it might be interesting to see how 87 Cameron Reserve would compare to a burgundy with some serious age on it. We chose 81 Phillipe Le Clerc Gevrey Chambertin ‘Combe aux Moines’, realizing that the vintage was suspect, but hoped for the best. We also, at the last minute decided to throw in 85 Adelsheim. Notes as follows:

1987 Cameron Reserve Pinot Noir - Dark core with some browning on the rim. Initially, very pronounced reduction smells of burnt rubber. With some air, this eventually dissipated, with some fruit still showing, but there was still some ‘hairspray’ elements remaining. To me, the nose was acceptable, but to my wife…not so good. I smelled no brett. The wine is obviously past its prime, lacking in the mid palate and starting to dry out with moderate acid on the finish. Drinkable, but certainly not great. 87 pts.

1985 Adelsheim Pinot Noir - Nice dark color with nice earthy secondary notes on the nose Considerable more depth than the Cameron with more fruit still present, in spite of being a couple of years older. Moderate acid on the back end. A nice wine, also on the decline, but an enjoyable drink. 89 pts

1981 Phillipe Le Clerc Gevrey-Chambertin 1er cru Combe aux Moines - Now we are talking! Totally unexpected and quite a surprise. Medium dark color. Initial burgundy earthy funk on the nose that then developed into beautiful notes of asian spice, cloves and nutmeg. A great mouthfeel of silk and velvet with a sweet finish that lingered. What balance…a lovely wine. 93 pts.

It certainly was an interesting comparison. Certainly a ‘no contest’ tonight, but perhaps on another night with different wines, another Oregon pinot might have blown the socks off some other burgundy…not tonight however. As burgundy lovers know, when burgundy hits, there is nothing like it…I guess that is why we spend these crazy prices to cellar these wines…to be able to experience the pleasures that this wine gave us tonight.

I think that Cameron and Adelsheim were at the top of the Oregon quality pyramid during the 80’s. Interesting how they did not age as well the Burg. Is it winemaking techniques from what was then a pretty young region, of is it “terroir”?

Great stuff Roger. John Pauls’ 1st vintage was reportedly '84 with young fruit (2 - 8 year vines) from Abbey Ridge. I’d be tempted to say that less than ideal storage is a likely candidate for the wine being tired, but one can’t rule out the myriad of other factors (vintage characteristics, earler in the winemakers career, young fruit…etc.).

Didn’t we sample the 06 Rene version of that Combes Aux Moines? Tasty in its youth too.

Seems like in this case, it was worthwhile to buy, pop and pour [wink.gif].


Richard, agree on the storage issue. Presumably, the pinots were bought on release and kept in their cellar…but don’t know the details of temp, etc. I bought the burg at the same shop, so at least both were on equal footing in that regard, as it was purchased on release as well.

PS. Yes…we had the Rene Le Clerk at SP tasting room. I purchased a few.

Thanks for the notes Roger. While Adelsheim and Cameron were near the top of the quality pyramid in Oregon in the 80s, it’s pretty clear that Eyrie was at the top of the heap. In the 80s we thought it was a wonder if a wine was still drinkable after 10 years. 1987 was a mess of a vintage. 1985 was a lot better, but the wine-making wasn’t what it is today. John first made Pinot Noir at Cameron in 1985. He made a Chardonnay the previous year that, if I remember correctly, was a blend of 84 and 83 fruit.

Great notes Roger, and always fun to try those older pinots…you just never know. I guess we’ll have to keep trying.