Posted by: David Stewart | September 16, 2012

Fantastic 4-year-old Debut

What’s new In Oregon wine? What’s new is sometimes what’s old.

For many centuries, wine was supposed to be consumed in the year that it is produced. Laborers in many parts of Europe would drink the current year’s vintage with their meals to benefit from the nutrition present. But aging was not considered important. Even today in many parts of the world, last year’s wine is cleared off the shelves when the current year is ready to sell.

Even today, most white wines will not tolerate much aging, their inherent freshness is lost with too much time in the cellar. But Cabernet and Merlot can improve over decades in bottle. Pinots from the best years and vineyards can improve over a decade or more.

Last night, Deb and I went to a party at Domaine Serene tasting their newly released 2008 “Monogram” Pinot Noir. This is their top-of-the-line blend that is only available in the best years.

If you are keeping count, this wine is four years old on release. After the grape juice was fermented, it spent 18 months in barrels and the rest of that time in bottles. This blends their “best of the best” and might be considered the best wine for sale today in Oregon.

The nose and palate had similar characteristics to the 2008 Evenstad Reserve from Domaine Serene – earthy notes with the usual red fruit. The wine clearly benefited from the extra aging time as the tannins were softened and drinkable. Fine for drinking now or laying down for further aging.

It’s also $250 per bottle. Or $1500 for a six-pack.

Don’t wait too long if you want to get yourself some. Very limited quantities were made.

Now before you think I’m going to complain or ridicule these guys for producing what is probably the most expensive wine in Oregon, think about the following:

  • They seem to be able to sell out of this wine, so there must be a market for it. I saw several six-packs being carted away after the party.
  • There are several ultra-exotic wines from California which are much more expensive, like Screaming Eagle.
  • Even though Oregon’s Pinots are compared favorably with France’s Burgundies, the French can charge a lot more for their wines and nobody bats an eyelash.

So although I’m not buying any myself, I’m all for Serene raising the level of Oregon Pinot Noir. It can only help the struggling artisans in the Willamette Valley to try to make a living.

Also of note, Serene released a new high-end Chardonnay, their 2009 “Récolte Grand Cru”. In some comments at the event, the winery’s owners Ken and Grace Evenstad talked about their intent to raise their Chard to the level of the French White Burgundy.

Récolte could be that wine. It had a terrific nose with refined oak rather than the usual new world tendancy to over-oak and produce butterscotch.



  1. […] thought the last of the spectacular 2008 Willamette Valley Pinots had debuted with the Domaine Serene Monogram. But this month also saw a new 2008 Winemaker’s Reserve Pinot Noir from […]

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