Domaine Divio: Some Brilliant Pinot Noirs


I first reviewed Domaine Divio wines back in 2016 – a 2013 Chardonnay and a pair of 2012 Pinots. Knowing nothing about the winery or the winemaker, I was struck by the quality, brightness and elegance of the Chardonnay (only one barrel was made!). One Pinot came from the Eola-Amity Hills, the other from the Dundee Hills. If memory serves these were the first wines from the first vintages of Bruno Corneaux’s Ribbon Ridge winery.

I spoke to Bruno a couple of years later, curious about his winemaking history and background. As he explained, “I was born in the Burgundy Region of France and grew up on a family vineyard of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. I’m a fourth-generation Burgundian grape grower in the Hautes Côtes de Beaune AOC. I received my Master’s Degree in Enology and Viticulture from Université de Bourgogne, Dijon France.

I enhanced my knowledge with international work experience in vineyards and wineries in France, South Africa, California, Oregon and Washington. Because I love challenges, I moved to the South Pacific in 1999 and successfully developed the first 10 acre-vineyard and produced award winning wines on the island of Tahiti.”

It was while he was doing an internship for Domaine Drouhin in 1996 that he discovered and fell in love with the Willamette Valley. More winemaking travels followed, until he joined Laurent Montalieu at Soléna Estate and NW Wine Company in 2010. This led to the founding of Domaine Divio two years later.

“I wanted to create my own wines under the label Domaine Divio with a vision of the perfect Pinot,” he continued, “which included finding the best spot in the Willamette Valley to create an exceptional estate. I found this gem in 2014 on Ribbon Ridge, the smallest sub-AVA of the Willamette Valley, where I developed a 13 acre vineyard: Clos Gallia.”

PG:  From your estate (Clos Gallia) vineyard you are producing a Ribbon Ridge bottling, and two single clone selections (Gabriel and Louis). What do you like about these clone-specific wines? Will there be others?

BC:  “The original idea was to make single clone wines from the Estate. I really like the elegance, floral character and balance of Wadenswil on our estate and the strong character, very dense, concentrated and brightness of clone 943 (one of the favorite clones planted in Burgundy the last 20 years). I thought it would not be very sexy to call them just Wadenswil or 943 and thought about my sons. The Wadenswil clone wine is named for Gabriel – talented and artistic; the 943 clone wine is named for Louis – showy, opiniated, brilliant, a perfectionist.”

PG:  You oversee the winemaking at NW Wine Company which owns the Hyland vineyard. Your Hyland cuvée is always a favorite for me. Is this a barrel selection, a block selection, or old vines?

BC:  “I purchase my own barrels for my wines and even if I like to use a rather good percentage of new oak, I always prefer lightly toasted French oak barrels. In my Hyland program I use the non-grafted, Coury clone old vines from 1971.”

PG:  Your thoughts on the importance for a winemaker to tackle the more difficult vintages. Do you learn more from them? Or is the challenge itself something you feel must be met?

BC:  “In the Willamette valley we have been blessed with ideal conditions for growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay for at least the last ten years. I have been used to working with vintages in Burgundy that are more challenging and I feel like our work as winemakers is to make the highest quality possible with what nature (and good growing practices) gives us.”

PG:  In barely more than a decade, Domaine Divio has grown into a full-blown Pinot Noir and Chardonnay specialist. Yes there are interesting sidebars (sparkling wine, rosé and even a Passetoutgrains) but the mainstay Burgundian grapes are the heart of the brand. In this first essay I’m posting notes on almost all of the 2022 Pinots, some still a long way from official release (as noted). Scores for not yet released wines are simply a best guess based on these early tastings and may well go up but won’t go down. I’ve divided the notes into several tiers that reflect the varied winemaking objectives. First, a pair of Willamette Valley blends.

Domaine Divio 2022 Pinot Noir – Immediately expressive and aromatically compelling, this pulls grapes from the estate and two non-estate vineyards. It’s nicely threaded with beetroot, built on firm flavors of strawberries and cherries and the lightly toasted, 25% new French barrels. The overall winemaking, as has been true of Bruno Corneaux’s wines from the first vintage, is impeccably clean, balanced, textured and detailed. July ’24 release. 500 cases; 13.5%; $35 (Willamette Valley) 92/100

Domaine Divio 2022 Reserve Pinot Noir – The reserve is a barrel selection and includes a percentage of estate grapes. It’s a dark black cherry shade, spent 14 months in 30% new oak, and overall is a deeper, denser version of the regular Willamette Valley bottling. Black cherry fruit adorned with a dusting of coffee grounds, tight, ripe tannins, and trails of lemon verbena and caramel are among the highlights. To be released Fall of ’25. 300 cases; 13.5%; $50 (Willamette Valley) 93/100

Divio:  The AVA Series

Domaine Divio 2022 Pinot Noir – A single vineyard provided the Pommard and Wadenswil fruit, all from vines planted at the turn of the century. Flavors reflect the 10 months in 40% new oak, along with a streak of chicken stock that brings a pleasant herbaceous character to the brambly berry fruit. With generous aeration this wine opened up dramatically, softening, smoothing and adding layers of purple fruits. February ’25 release. 195 cases; 13.8%; $60 (Eola-Amity Hills) 92/100

Domaine Divio 2022 Pinot Noir – All these new and upcoming 2022 Pinots are quite young and need more time to pull together, this one more than most. The tannins have a green edge, and there’s a substrate of lightly composted earth. The brambly berry fruit packs plenty of natural acidity. This is built to age, and should cellar well over the next decade. Fall ’24 release. 195 cases; 13.9%; $60 (Yamhill-Carlton) 92/100

Domaine Divio 2022 Pinot Noir – This is sourced from are young (2016) vines in the Dundee Cove vineyard (new to me). At first the wine feels a little shut down, but 24 hours after being opened, it is showing bright flavors of raspberry fruit, a touch of citrus, and backing acidity. About 40% of the barrels were new, lending a light hint of caramel to the finish. Just released. 195 cases; 13.4%; $60 (Dundee Hills) 93/100

Domaine Divio 2022 Pinot Noir – From the Clos Gallia (estate) vineyard, this is bright and sassy, beautifully balanced and accented with hints of baking spices, Aged 10 months in 40% new oak, it puts a coat of chocolate around the strawberry and cherry fruit. The finish is tight and chewy, with more layers yet to unpack over time. Just released. 195 cases; 13.5%; $60 (Chehalem Mountains) 94/100

Domaine Divio 2022 Pinot Noir – Built up with the seashell minerality of the AVA, this elegant and detailed wine is sourced from the estate’s Clos Gallia vineyard. As the vines mature they begin to add depth and texture to the bright, clean fruit. Packed with layers of blackberries, wild herbs, baking spices and touches of oyster shells, this young wine shows impressive density and detail. Fall ’24 release. 195 cases; 13.7%; $60 (Ribbon Ridge) 95/100

Divio:  The Single Vineyard Series

Domaine Divio 2022 Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir – Quite distinctive from the rest of Divio’s 2022 Pinots, this opens with scents of compost, earth and a bit of funk. Those signature notes frame the deep, delicious black cherry fruit, then the finish adds hints of black pepper, mocha and sweet spice. This block selection from Shea is 100% Pommard. February ’25 release. 198 cases; 13.7%; $75 (Yamhill-Carlton) 94/100

Domaine Divio 2022 Gregory Ranch Vineyard Pinot Noir – Wine from this vineyard is often part of the Bergström portfolio. It’s biodynamically farmed, yielding earthy and savory highlights. Spicy berry fruits follow in proportion, accompanied by a twist of orange peel and fresh-picked garden herbs. One third of the barrels were new. Fall ’24 release. 150 cases; 13.9%; $70 (Yamhill-Carlton) 93/100

Domaine Divio 2022 Hyland Vineyard Pinot Noir – Bruno Corneaux manages this old vine site, which was first planted more than a half century ago. This ‘Coury Clone’ Pinot Noir bears a connection to Willamette Valley grower Charles Coury, whose vineyard was planted in the mid-1960s. Intensely expressive and wonderfully detailed, it’s a chance to set your palate loose on a romp through Oregon wine history. Threads of brambly blackberries, black cherry pastry, Asian spices, autumn leaves, tapenade, espresso grounds, black tea, tobacco and more are woven into a marvelous tapestry of flavor. By all means give it a little breathing time or a good swirl in the glass, then sit back, sip slowly, and enjoy. This should drink well into the 2040s. Not due for release until May ’25. 198 cases; 13.3%; $65 (McMinnville) 96/100

Divio:  The Estate Series

Domaine Divio 2022 Clos Gallia Pinot Noir – This comes from the estate vineyard and is comparable to the Ribbon Ridge cuvée. Limned with seashell flavors and textures, focused on clean raspberry fruit, and backed with a splash of citrusy acids, this has an elegant mouthfeel that promises good things to come with further bottle age. For near term drinking just aerate aggressively. Just released. 289 cases; 13.7%; $65 (Ribbon Ridge) 95/100

Domaine Divio 2022 Louis Pinot Noir – This is a single block/single clone selection, toasty and firm, savory and svelte, with a mix of brambly berries, peppery herbs and a penetrating fresh herbaceousness. As is often true, the focus and specificity of the block/clone selection keeps it tight and deep, and it needs a lot more time to unwrap. A palate-pleasing toasty frame emerges with breathing – 11 months in one third new oak is the reason. October ’24 release. 147 cases; 13.7%; $65 (Ribbon Ridge) 93/100

Domaine Divio 2022 Gabriel Pinot Noir – A block selection of Wadenswil grapes, young and earthy, this is immediately tight and compact with soft strawberry/cherry fruit and a touch of sandalwood. There are ample acids underscoring the tangy fruit, and after it spent 14 months in 25% new oak, and with ample breathing (24 hours) those barrel flavors soften and add more toasty detail to the finish. October ’24 release. 147 cases; 13.6%; $65 (Ribbon Ridge) 94/100

Domaine Divio 2022 Legacy of the Pioneers Pinot Noir – Just bottled, this immediately shows the impact of two years in 50% new oak. It’s a block selection of Coury Clone from the estate vineyard. With great density, compact and peppery, deep black cherry fruit, coffee grounds and dark chocolate, it’s beautifully layered and leads into a long, lingering finish. August ’24 release. 148 cases; 13.7%; $70 (Ribbon Ridge) 95/100

Domaine Divio 2022 Toison d’Or Pinot Noir – The name refers to the medieval knights’ Order of the Golden Fleece, and represents the high point of the vintage’s Pinots at this estate. This is all clone 777 fruit, aged two years in 100% new barrels. The color is a plummy garnet, with hints of rose at the perimeter, and the lovely aromatics will reward decanting or plenty of swirling in the glass. Rose petals, cherries, a dusting of chocolate, and hints of root beer, sandalwood incense and baking spices unfold. The densely constructed palate opens further and further with ample aeration. November ‘24 release. 47 cases; 13.8%; $125  (Ribbon Ridge) 96/100

Events & Tastings Coming Up

The Centennial of Biodynamics

The Demeter Biodynamic Certified wineries of Oregon will share their wines at a pair of events commemorating the centennial of Rudolf Steiner’s Agriculture Lectures, which began a voyage of discovery called Biodynamics. There are two separate wine tasting events in the works – one on June 6th for the trade and media, the other June 8th open to the public. As of this post participating wineries are Analemma, Art + Science, Brick House, Brooks, Cooper Mountain, Cowhorn, Domaine Willamette, Johan, King Estate, Montinore, Soter, Troon, Upper Five and Winderlea.

 Women in Wine Oregon

Plans for the sixth annual conference have been announced, and tickets for the July 16th event are on sale now

Founded in 2019, Women in Wine Oregon amplifies female voices and promotes female leadership in the wine and beverage industry. This year’s theme is ‘RISE’ and will offer insights from leading female wine professionals, business leaders, journalists, entrepreneurs, and industry trailblazers. Guided by the principles of Regeneration, Investing, Supporting, and Empowering, the conference aims to inspire and empower participants on their personal and professional journeys. Among the speakers are wine writers from leading wine publications including Jancis Robinson and Decanter.

Summertime ¡Salud! E-Auction

The preview lots for the three-day E-Auction (July 16 – 18) have been posted on the link above. Register to bid by June 1 and be entered to win two tickets to IPNC Salmon Bake on July 27. Click the “Get Started” button on the auction site to register. Wineries create one-of-a-kind ¡Salud! Cuvée Pinot Noirs from their very best barrels. Only five cases of each wine is released. ¡Salud! is a benefit for the Hillsboro Medical Center Foundation.

Paul Gregutt
Paul Gregutt
Paul Gregutt has been covering the wines and wineries of the Pacific Northwest since the mid-1980s. From 2002 to 2012 he wrote a weekly wine column for the Seattle Times and authored two critically-acclaimed editions of ‘Washington Wines & Wineries – The Essential Guide’ (UC Berkeley Press). He served as the Northwest editor for Wine Enthusiast magazine from 1998 until 2022. Early on he was an original staff member of both the Seattle Weekly and KZAM-FM. He lives with his wife Karen and his rescue dog Cookie in Waitsburg (pop. 1204), a farm community about 20 miles NE of Walla Walla. When not tasting and writing about wine he writes songs, plays guitar and sings in his band the DavePaul5 ( Follow his writing at PaulG on Wine,, and in the Waitsburg Times.


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