It’s official: the best Pinot Noir in the world comes from Oregon. Shocked? We are not. The Oregon wine industry has long known the quality and potential of the local wines. A recent win for Domaine Serene has certainly propelled global recognition.
At Decanter’s 2016 World Wine Awards (DWWA) Domaine Serene’s 2012 Winery Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir beat out 6 grand cru and 26 premier cru Burgundian Pinot Noir to grab the coveted top honor of Platinum Best in Show for Pinot Noir over £15. Winery Hill Estate is home to Domaine Serene’s winery and hospitality facilities in Dundee Hills.
Domaine Serene is certainly not new to recognition as a top producer. In 2013, the Domaine Serene 2010 Evenstad Reserve Pinot Noir was the Wine Spectator’s top-ranked Pinot Noir in the World, and #3 in their Top-100 ranking of all wines that year.
This award from the acclaimed UK wine magazine, Decanter, was a particularly great coup. Sixteen thousand wines were submitted. A panel of 240 of the world’s best palates, including 69 Masters of Wine and 26 Master Sommeliers conducted the blind judging. Less than 2% of all international medal winners were from the United States; and only 5 out of the total 539 gold and platinum medal-winners were American. Domaine Serene took home a total of eight medals from the competition, including one silver medal and six bronze medal honors, the most of any American winery.
Just like the reality tv bachelorette who got the rose, Domaine Serene learned of the victory a month before the news went public. They got an email from Steven Spurrier, current chair of DWWA 2016 and the person who organized the Judgement of Paris that launched California into international fame 40 years ago.
“We were excited,” shared Ryan Harris, President at Domaine Serene and their Burgundy winery Château de la Crée, “but not surprised.” Domaine Serene has believed in Oregon since the 1980’s. When winery founders Ken and Grace Evenstad scoured the west coast for a place to produce world class Pinot Noir they found 42 acres in Dundee Hills. There was a lot working against them. In 1989, advisors said not to plant on the west side. A portion of the award winning Evenstad Estate faces west. They were warned they would not be able to sell more than 5% of their wine outside of Oregon. They sold 95% out of state their first year. They said they would never be able to ripen grapes above 600 feet. Winery Hill Estate stretches from 775-930 feet. In fact Harris attributes the award in part to the elevation. “This wine struck a chord with the panel’s European palates because even in the warm dry vintage conditions of 2012, there was great balance.”
Harris also highlights the winemaking team and the involvement of Ken and Grace Evenstad. “Diversity, breadth of knowledge, and experience make this Domaine Serene’s strongest winemaking team in 27 years.” Erik Kramer, Director of Winemaking and Viticulture, leads the team in a practice they call “drinking and thinking.” The blending never stops at Domaine Serene and the Evenstads continue to be an integral part of the process, even logging long hours at the sorting table. The Evenstads’ “in the trenches” dedication has always been part of Domaine Serene. For the first eight years they did not have any full time employees and Grace personally hand labelled and corked every bottle until they exceeded 12,000 bottles. “There is no ego, just collaboration and a focus on quality,” said Harris.
At Domaine Serene they have always pushed forward, practicing their business philosophy of “continuous improvement.” According to Harris, after a little celebration of this great achievement the team basically said, “This is great. What next?”
Harris predicts that one thing to follow is even greater recognition of Oregon as a world class Pinot Noir producer. The more people who experience Oregon wine, the better. “Once they taste, the wines will speak for themselves,” predicts Harris. Domaine Serene will also be the featured Pinot Noir at the Riedel exhibition to show off the quality of their special Pinot Noir wine glass at the 2016 Decanter Fine Wine Encounter.
For those wishing to taste this award winning wine, sadly unless it is in your cellar, you are too late. Released almost exclusively to wine club members and tasting room visitors the only remaining bottles are archived at Domaine Serene. The 2013 vintage will be released this summer for those who wish to visit the winery and taste. To learn more about Domaine Serene visit https://www.domaineserene.com
Photos courtesy of Domaine Serene.