Domaine Serene, Evenstad Reserve Pinot Noir 2012

Domaine Serene, Evenstad Reserve Pinot Noir 2012
‘I enjoyed these wines very much. Yes, these are quite stylish expressions of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. While I would not describe them as Californian per se, I was occasionally reminded of some of that state's wines such as Littorai or Aubert, which is no bad thing. Apropos their Pinot Noir, again they are polished wines true to their respective terroirs, although having tasted a number of older vintages in the UK over the years, they should be afforded cellaring and good vintages evolve rewarding and engaging secondary aromas and flavors, as evinced by the Evanstad Reserve Pinot Noir 1992–over two decades old and still going strong.’ Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate, March 2015.
Funnily enough, last year I pitched up at a dinner with some friends, which involved everyone bringing along some impressive Burgundy. There were some fairly illustrious names among the line-up and I was expecting to depart with the reputation of various Domaines’ wines enhanced in my eyes. That might well have been the case but for one rogue wine that was shown at the event and completely stole the show……..That wine was a 1999 from Domaine La Serene. I must confess that when a friend said he was bringing a bottle of 16 year old Oregon Pinot Noir, I wasn’t expecting too much… wrong could I be?
Since then we have been in touch with the estate, enjoyed a tasting of recent vintages and finally our contact has resulted in this first offer of Domaine Serene.  Grace and Ken Evenstad first settled in the Dundee Hills in the Wilamette Valley back in 1989. They soon invested in a 42 acre hilltop estate realising a lifelong dream to produce high quality Pinot Noir. It should be stressed that the Evenstads had faith in Oregon’s potential to produce world-class Pinot Noir, long before the region was truly being touted on the global stage.  It is interesting to note that both Domaine Jadot and Domaine Drouhin have invested in land in Oregon relatively recently, and they are early adopters of a trend.  This further underscores the significant potential for the production of top-quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the region.  Today Serene produces Pinot Noir from six separate vineyards across three Willamette Valley AVAs (designated viticultural zones) and they produce their Chardonnay from a high altitude vineyard in the Dundee Hills. The results speak for themselves and this comparatively low-key estate has received its fair share of acknowledgements over the years.
I need no convincing on the ability of Serene Pinot Noir to age, nor does Neal Martin it would seem. I find the poise in these wines fascinating – they aren’t as full, nor oak-infused as some US examples. Instead they focus on bright, vibrant fruit, underscored by enlivening acidity. These are texturally impressive wines, without seeming too  glossy. The fact that the oak is paired back allows a far more vibrant interpretation of Pinot Noir to be realised, without any of the pitfalls of headiness.  As to the contrast between Yamhill and the Evenstad Reserve, these are clearly from the same family, with a deeper core of fruit and a more assertive, youthful structure in evidence with the Evenstad and a softer, suppler form in evidence with the Yamhill. However, don’t interpret the Yamhill as necessarily early drinking; there is longevity in the DNA of these wines! The Chardonnay was fascinating, again sharing the same winemaking ethos. I was seriously impressed by this racy, clean-cut style…it is appreciably more Burgundian than typically Oregon with the altitude of this site contributing to the distinctive style. When this vineyard was initially planted, the step was met with a degree of scepticism……this should quickly be dealt with by a simple taste of the 2014!
2012 Pinot Noir, Evenstad Reserve, Domaine Serene
£420 per 12 bottle case in bond
£420 per 6 magnum case in bond (Magnums available September)
93 points, Neal Martin,
The 2012 Pinot Noir Evenstad Reserve was picked from late summer after one of the driest on record. There was better heat accumulation, according to Erik Kramer, but he does not regard it has a hot vintage. It was a low yield at around 1.7 and 1.8 tons per acre, partly due to a preflowering cluster removal. The skin-to-pulp ratio was very high and it was raised in 65% new oak over 16 months. It has a deep garnet color. The bouquet is in stark contrast with strawberry pastille and raspberry coulis, hints of iodine developing in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with fleshy ripe red berry fruit interlaced with sea salt and white pepper. There is an undercurrent of gaminess to this 2012 that lends intrigue toward the finish that gently grips the mouth. Not as opulent as other 2012 Pinot Noirs that I have tasted, but clearly very well crafted by winemaker Erik Kramer and with a prosperous future ahead. 
93 points, James Suckling 
A full and rich pinot with clay, berry and strawberry character. Hints of soil and spices too. Lots of ripe fruit, but fresh and bright. Drink now.
92 points, Josh Reynolds,
Brilliant ruby. Sexy, oak-spiced aromas of red and dark berry liqueur, cherry-cola and vanilla, with smoky mineral and incense scents building in the glass. Oaky to be sure, but the wine's seriously deep, sweet black raspberry, cherry compote and floral pastille qualities seem up to the lumber. Plush and seamless in texture, finishing with excellent thrust and length and smooth tannins that fold into the wine's lush fruit. Fans of decadent Pinot needn't look any farther. Drinking 2018-2032
2012 Pinot Noir, Yamhill Cuvée, Domaine Serene
£260 per 12 bottle case in bond
93 points, James Suckling 
Gorgeous pinot with dried strawberry and spice character. Full body, soft tannins, and remains fresh and lively. Lovely combination of ripe fruit and acidity. Drink or hold.
90 points, Josh Raynolds
Deep red. Fresh red berry and peppery spice aromas, with a floral nuance adding complexity. Juicy and focused on the palate, offering lively raspberry and bitter cherry flavors plus a hint of bitter chocolate. Nicely taut and spicy on the long, zesty finish, which features dusty tannins and a lingering note of candied rose.
2014 Chardonnay, Evenstad Reserve, Domaine Serene
£330 per 12 bottle case in bond (available September)
No full critic notes available. Neal Martin comments ‘Certainly the Chardonnays from Domaine Serene tick all the right boxes, leaning slightly toward Sonoma in terms of texture that often displays a slight waxiness, yet they maintain a sense of Burgundian reserve and tension’. Please see my comments in text above for further detail.
Back to Offers