2005 Domaine Serene “Evenstad Reserve” Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Domaine Serene is gorgeous. Sitting outside their beautiful winery in Oregon’s Dundee HIlls, overlooking the surrounding vineyards and countryside, you could easily imagine that you are somewhere in the hills of Provence. And their wines are equally stunning. They have been producing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay here since 1990 and their wines have amassed barrel-loads of awards and acclaim over the years. But, undistracted by the attention, their focus has remained firmly on growing and producing outstanding wine from their estate fruit. They consider the Evenstad Reserve their flagship wine, and the 2005 vintage to be one of their best vintages ever. It has excellent balance, great depth and complexity and is knit together seamlessly. This fact did not go unnoticed: it made a certain Top 100 Wines of 2008 list and is now almost completely gone, but our kindly distributor agreed to part with some of the few remaining bottles for this club. It was $56 and is lovely now, but could develop for up to ten more years. A great pairing for this wine, according to Vitaly Paley, chef and owner of Paley’s Place in Portland, is salmon, marinated for several hours with salt, orange zest and brown sugar, then rubbed with chopped garlic and grilled on a cedar plank, covered with sliced Walla Walla onion and chopped basil.
2007 Roots Estate Pinot Noir
Winemaker Chris Berg was born in Racine, Wisconsin, which is where his roots are. (The French word for “roots” is racine.) Chris now lives in Oregon where he makes Pinot Noir on his estate vineyard in the Ribbon Ridge appellation in the north Willamette Valley, under both the Racine and Roots label. It all makes perfect sense. Back when he was still getting his winery underway, Chris worked as a wine rep, selling other peoples’ wine to us. He’s a fun and wacky guy, and we always enjoyed his visits, but we’re even more delighted now that we’re able to bring in his wines, which have simply been going from strength to strength since his first vintage back in 2002. Despite the difficult 2007 vintage in Oregon, Chris’s Estate Pinot is one of his best yet. It has well integrated tannins, a velvety texture, and a nice, long finish. It is not a big wine (what we call “Pinot-rah”—Pinots masquerading as Syrah) but rather, it’s what a Pinot should be: well balanced and food friendly. With its notes of blackberry, white pepper, and spice, it’s a quintessential accompaniment for barbequed salmon, or you could get creative, with seared Ahi. Chris made less than 200 cases, but it should be available for a while longer, at $27.