“Someday we should really have a vineyard.” – Ken Evenstad
“Our somedays are running out; let’s do it now.” – Grace Evenstad
When Ken and Grace Evenstad first purchased land in the early ’90s, the fog layer covering Oregon’s Williamette Valley was so thick it was difficult to appreciate the magnitude of their newest acquisition. A few days later, the fog rolled out and hues of turquoise painted the sky. The majestic Dundee Hills were revealed, accompanied by a panorama of rolling vineyards. The Evenstad’s were left speechless. Their spirits soared as high as the property’s elevation as they began construction on what became the Domaine Serene estate. Through passion and commitment, the hills were re-configured with the goal of creating consistent vintages from year to year. The couple forged ahead and turned their vision into reality. Trees were lumber-jacked and rocks excavated as the rugged terrain was transformed into a paradise of pinot noir vineyards. A winery was sketched to resemble a chateau-like “castle on a cloud” and the Evenstad’s Williamette Valley “American Dream” was born.
With a love for Burgundy dating back to their college years, Ken & Grace yearned to develop an American pinot within the heart of the Williamette. In a land where pinot rules, it was imperative they develop a winemaking technique that would challenge the production of their competitors, which happened to include top quality Grand Cru’s. There are only a handful of places in the world where proper moisture, temperature and growing seasons coincide long enough to grow pinot noir. The Evenstad’s truly understood the particular nature of the varietal. Grace labeled it as, “the princess of all grapes.” She went on to say, “pinot noir knows everything you’ve done to it and always remembers”.
Domaine Serene is built around the winemaking principle that “less is more”. Pinot doesn’t like to be poked or pushed, and as a result, their five level gravity flow facility continues to retain the natural quality of the fruit. The wines are either blended from a variety of vineyards which include Evenstad, Yamhill, Jerusalem Hill, Gold Eagle, Winery Hill, Grace and Mark Bradford or are bottled single vineyard. Every pinot is aged in barrels, initially moved by gravity for up to two years and then sits in bottle to settle for one year. Every vintage bottled from Domaine Serene since 1990 has not only captured the essence of the Williamette Valley but has also achieved stellar reviews from the likes of Wine Spectator, Wine Advocate and Robert Parker. Domaine Serene has more than eighty-five wines rated 90+ points from Wine Spectator. It was only when they won first, second and third place in a blind tasting against France’s DRC wines did Ken realize, “We are not only world class, but better than the benchmark pinots of the world.”
This past May the Red Wine Lovers had the fortunate opportunity to visit Domaine Serene and taste their exceptional library of wines. Everything we tasted was perfection. Ripened blackberries, creamy vanilla and chewy caramel make the Yamhill Cuvee pinot one of our best valued wines at $45USD. This wine is firm in texture and smartly balanced without losing its delicate nature; a princess pinot without the royal price tag. It is the result of controlled low yields of fruit in the vineyard, traditional Burgundian wine making practices and 100% barrel aging in small, French cooperage. Pair the Yamhill Cuvee with Evenstad family friend Emeril Lagasse’s spaghetti bolognese and experience a refined melding of sweet and savory flavors. This signature blend will truly catapult you to another place, perched as high as Domaine Serene itself. -R.H
Domaine Serene Yamhill Cuvee Pinot Noir 2009
Related scores – WS: 89
Market price: $45USD
Blend: Pommard (44%), Dijon (33%) and Wadenswil (23%) (Pinot Clones)
Glassware: Riedel Pinot Noir Vinum Glassware
Food pairing:Emeril Lagasse’s Spaghetti Bolognese