How does one put together a world-class winery in the rugged hills of Oregon? Well, if you’re Ken and Grace Evenstad, you find an absolutely stunning estate in 1989 that has just been logged and realize that this southernmost hilltop in the Red Hills of Dundee is one of the most remarkable in all of Oregon. (And judging by the neighbors, it looks like the Evenstads are far from alone in that belief.)
The Evenstad Estate vineyards now make up the heart of many of the top wines produced at the family’s estate, known as Domaine Serene. While the estate now extends over 142 acres, producing around 25,000 cases a year, each wine continues to be made with the same care and attention to detail as the first few thousand cases produced some 20 years ago.
In fact, the wines here have never been better. From vineyards where non-stop work continues in identifying the best clones for each vineyard plot to a state-of-the-art five-storey, gravity-fed winery concealed in the Evenstad Estate hillside, Domaine Serene continues to push the boundaries in the pursuit of excellence. Of course there is only one way to find out how good these wines really are, and that's by trying them for yourself! Domaine Serene just made that a little easier, with a special free shipping offer for Snooth Customers. Just order 12 bottles of more of Domaine Serene's great Evenstad Reserve by December 10, 2010 and your shipping is free!
Looking up from the lowest level of this 5-story gravity fed winemaking facility. This stairwell not only provides acces to the top of tower, but also serves as a natural ventilation shaft, helping to cool and ventilate the winery using only wind power.
Looking out over the Evansatd Estate and beyond from the top of Domaine Serene's Ventilation tower.
They don't call these the Red Hills for nothing. This earth glows with rusty edges. The fact that Domaine Serene doesn't irrigate may make the soil a little dusty, but the vines, and the wines certainly benefit.
Domaine Serene's 5-story winery sits largely underground, allowing the natural panaromas to dominate the view.
It's always a treat to taste the wines of Domaine Serene. If you are in the Dundee area, make sure to stop by their tasting room and sample them for yourself
The Work Goes On
In the vineyards, Domaine Serene is pursuing an aggressive program of sustainable farming as well as retaining more than half the acreage in its natural state, preserving the ecosystems that have made the Dundee Hills such a natural success story. Domaine Serene also forgoes irrigation, preserving valuable water resources as well as promoting the growth of the deep-rooted, low-vigor vines that produce uncommonly rich and complex wines.
The pursuit of excellence continues in the cellar. While almost all the producers in Oregon, and probably the entire U.S., reserve their best fruit for their single vineyard bottlings, Domaine Serene has chosen a different route. Its single vineyard bottlings are still world-class, but the estate reserves the finest Pinot Noir for its Evenstad Reserve Cuvee. Not only does this produce a truly top-of-the-line Cuvee annually, but it also allows the company to bring a wine to market each year that exemplifies the Domaine Serene style -- elegant, rich, yet balanced and, above all, complex.
While Pinot Noir rules the roost in Oregon, that’s not to say other fine wines receive short shrift. In fact, Domaine Serene also produces some exceptional Chardonnays and Syrah. The Chardonnays are full of crisp, precise fruit, and exemplify the best of what the varietal can be. Whether you prefer the toasty edge that newer wood imparts to the Cote Sud bottling, or the subtle integration of flavors that come from the three-year-old barrels used for the Etoile Vineyard bottling, Domaine Serene produces wines that compete with the finest in the world.
I was lucky enough to spend some time at Domaine Serene earlier this year. Not only did I thoroughly enjoy the wines the estate is producing, but I was also impressed by its level of commitment: to us as consumers, offering us wines that capture the beauty of these lush hills, but also to the land itself. The Evenstads’ estate is a truly beautiful piece of land, perched as it is, overlooking virtually the whole of Oregon’s finest wine country. It’s a very special spot, and it’s comforting to know we are fortunate to have very special people ensuring that future generations will be able to take full advantage of all its perks: the views, the wildlife and, of course, the wines.
2007 Cote Sud Chardonnay 13.9%
Nutty oak on the nose is joined by a touch of bacon fat sweetness before integrating into the tight core of lemon oil and floral fruit tones. There's a nice mineral underlay of sandy soil that give binds everything together. On the attack there is a hint of tannin before the acidity snaps the slightly creamy apply fruit into focus. More citrussy element build on the back end and on to the rather long, creamy yet precise finish. This is luxurious without being overly opulent and retains excellent freshness throughout. 92pts
2007 Yamhill Cuvee Pinot Noir 13.8%
Lean and a touch green on the nose with am in initial flush of plantain fruitiness backed up by decidedly floral, spicy rosemary herbal elements and a very dusty soil note. In the mouth this starts out with a very sapid watermelon fruit tone supported by plenty of soft tannins which gain grab on the mid-palate. The fruit build as well in a raspberry vein accented by the mouth watering acidity. the spicy herbal notes of the nose return on the moderate finish which chows a clay soil tone on the finale. 90pts
2006 Evenstad Reserve Pinot Noir 14.5%
Decidedly forest floor like in the glass with lots of lightly spiced cherry fruit accented by waxy tones, a touch of herb, and integrated mace and nutmeg wood spice tones with a lightly smoky top note. On the palate this is very well knit together with integrated acidity and polished tannins. The fruit is pure and very nicely defined with just a creamy edge of oak influence showing. The balance lends this a round, seamless feel and the oak is well integrated popping out just a bit on the finish giving this a bit of a simple tension of cherry and vanilla before the return of herbal and forest floor tones on the finale. 92pts
2006 Winery Hill Pinot Noir 14.7%
Wonderfully floral and perfumed on the nose with tons of sweet raspberry and slightly jammy cherry fruit accented by notes of warm baking spices and vanilla. On the palate this is soft and supple with gentle fruit that shows an edge of freshly sliced apricot sweetness to the slightly jammy raspberry core. the finish shows deft touches of wood spice and a hint of vanilla on the moderately long finish. 91pts
2006 Mark Bradford Pinot Noir 14.7%
Dense smelling and rich with oily, dark spice notes that recall licorice, coffee bean and even a hint of black pepper. The fruit aromatics are intense and concentrated with a deep core of dark cherry fruit accented with hints of blueberry. Very finely focused in the mouth with concentration that matches that found on the nose. this is well balanced with excellent purity and freshness to the spicy black raspberry fruit that seems built on a foundation of rocky mineral tones, integrated spice notes, and gentle if decisive herb tones that blossom into an almost minty bouquet on the long finish. The tannins are ripe but quite firm, driving the long finish and boding well for future development. 94pts
2005 Rockblock Reserve Syrah 14.5%
This is very varietally correct with a huge cracked black pepper top note over a core of wonderfully deep and intense fruit that is threaded with nots of dried meat and chorizo. Nice almost stemmy, floral top note really add lift tot he nose. On the palate this begins as very savory and seamless smooth with an underlying woodsy, frutti del bosco tone and even some forest floor nuances. the mid-palate fills with a richness of concentrated, thick, almost tactile fruitiness with a touch of integrated wood spice adding depth and complexity on the finish. this is very well balanced if tightly wound with 93pts