I recently met with Ginger Dollins, regional representative for Domaine Serene, one of the premier wineries in Willamette Valley and one of my personal favorites, to try their new releases and learn a little bit more about how this winery has jumped to the head of the pack for Pinot Noir producers from the region.
Over a leisurely lunch at The Commissary we talked about the vision of Domaine Serene owners Ken and Grace Evenstad, now celebrating their 20th anniversary creating elegant Chardonnay and ultra premium Pinot Noir in Willamette’s Dundee Hills. Involved in every aspect of wine production from the vineyard to the winery, their goal has always been to make the best Pinot Noir from the region, using sustainable practices, and a hands off approach allowing the terrior to shine through in their wine. They have been successful, as they have received acclaimfrom both national and international critics saying they are the “Chateau Lafite of Oregon” by Anthony Dias blue, the best Oregon Pinot Noir producer by The Wall Street Journal and outstanding by Robert Parker.
While snacking on parmesan popcorn, an ideal pairing with Chardonnay, we sipped the 2007 Etoile Chardonnay and 2008 Clos du Soleil Chardonnay. I have been a fan of the Etoile for years, comparing it to a great French Chablis, with good acidity, green apple and ripe peach notes with a layer of dried apricot on the finish. The Cols du Soleil is a much richer and creamier Chardonnay still with good, balanced acidity and ripe fruit flavors but this one is much more elegant, with creme brulee and toasted marshmallow flavors withtropical fruit notes on the finish from 16 months of ageing sur lees in 51% new French oak barrels. Only a few hundred cases of the Clos du Soleil are made each year, as Domaine Serene continues with their goals of making premium, yet small production wine.
Over a salad of tomato and watermelon we sipped the “R” Rose, a blend of Pinot Noir grapes from their vineyards in Dundee as well as grapes from vineyards in Walla Walla, Oregon and the Rogue Region of Oregon. Balanced and vibrant with lots of strawberry, cherry and raspberry flavors this dry, full flavored Rose is concentrated and rich, and perfect for red wine lovers to sip during the long hot Texas summers.
I have written about the signature Pinot Noir from Domaine Serene several times over the years, the Evenstad Reserve, and my love for this wine. The latest release does not disappoint with cherry, berry, sweet spice, earthy notes that are representative of great Oregon Pinot Noir.
One treat we had during lunch was the 2007 Rockblock “SoNo” Syrah. Syrah from vineyards in Stone Valley and Seven Hills in Walla Walla, Oregon, this is a deep, bold and intense Syrah filled with cherry, plum and hearty spice flavors. The tannins are nicely integrated so you can drink and enjoy now, or hold for a few years to allow them to soften a bit.