Recent Oregon Pinot Noir Tastings Confirm Consistent Excellence
As the last of the 2012 vintage Pinot Noirs are reviewed and attention turns to the 2013 vintage and even a few
early releases from the 2014 vintage, the words “ultra premium” ring true from a range of producers. The wines
are of such extraordinary excellence, that drawing distinct differences in quality between them in boils down to
a bee’s nadget.
This is a unique husband and wife owned and operated artisan producer of Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris
and Chardonnay, founded in 2003, and based in urban Portland, Oregon. Both partners are Pacific Northwest
natives and winemakers. Stewart Boedecker also is the enologist and vineyard lead, having begun his wine
education at Cornell University, enriched his experience working in Northern California, and now has nearly two
decades of experience crafting wines in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Athena Pappas serves as cellar master
and general manager along with her winemaking duties. The Pinot Noirs are crafted using traditional
techniques involving small fermenters, indigenous yeasts, and extended barrel aging. The Winemakers
Selection Pinot Noirs represent distinct blends that reflect each of their palates and are appropriately named
Stewart and Athena. Boedecker Cellars was one of the featured wineries at the 2015 International Pinot Noir
Celebration. A winery and tasting room is located at 2621 NW 30th Ave. in Portland and is open weekends.
2013 Boedecker Cellars Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., $20, screwcap. Native
fermentation, hand punch downs, aged 9 months in French oak barrels, 6 months on the lees with
Light cherry red color in the glass. Lovely aromas of red cherry, spice, dried herbs, earthy
flora and redwood log. Light in weight but flavorful, with tastes of red cherries and berries and
blueberry that are earth-kissed. Very elegant, with a deft touch of oak in the background and
gossamer tannins. The wine does not have a bevy of nuance, but is very like able. A perfect
everyday table wine crafted in a classic Oregon style.
2013 Boedecker Cellars Stewart Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
13.2% alc., 900 cases,
$36, screwcap. Release March 2016. A blend from Carlton Hill, Cherry Grove, Finigan Hill, Hirschy,
Shea and Stoller vineyards. Winemaker Stewart Boedecker’s favorite barrel selections. 25% whole
cluster, native yeast fermentation, 18 months in French oak barrels with lees stirring (first 9 months
in a mix of new, once and twice-filled and neutral barrels, last 9 months in neutral barrels). Bottle
aged 4 to 6 months before release.
Light cherry red color in the glass. Inviting aromas of cherry,
rose petal and woodland lead to a mid weight styled wine with impressive mid palate presence and
finish. The core of cherry and ripe strawberry fruit flavors is accented with notes of interesting spices including
cinnamon. The tannins are suave, the acidity is bright, and the overall impression is one of complete harmony.
A masterful cuvée.
This stellar winery has been featured in the PinotFile on a number of occasions. Family owned, Broadley
Vineyards was established over 30 years in the hills west of the town of Monroe, Oregon, in the southern
Willamette Valley. Craig and Claudia Broadley launched the winery in 1982, released their first wines in 1986,
and had developed a reputation for outstanding estate Pinot Noir by 1994. Winemaker Morgan Broadley crafts
the estate wines from 30 acres in the warmest and driest part of the Willamette Valley that include a diverse
selection of Dijon clones as well as Pommard and Wädenswil. The wines uniquely feature partial whole cluster
fermentation, significant fermentation in wood containers, and always are unfined and unfiltered. The winery’s
tasting room is well worth a detour from the more highly publicized northern Willamette Valley wineries, and is
open by appointment. Visit www.broadleyvineyards.com.
The 2014 vintage at Broadley Vineyards was warm and dry, the hottest on record, what the winery called “the
2014 Broadley Vineyards Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
13.2% alc., 3,000 cases, $20. A
blend of fruit from several highly regarded vineyards. 100% de-stemmed, wild yeast fermentation,
aged 9-10 months in neutral French oak barrels.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The
nose leads with a mixture of dark berry and woodland aromas. Upon entry, their is literally an
explosion of fruit goodness, including flavors of black cherry, blueberry and pomegranate. Despite
the charge of sappy fruit, the wine retains good balance with supporting tannins, fresh acidity and a
touch of oak. The fruit-driven finish is unusually long for an appellation blend. I liked this wine more over time in
the glass. A welcome value.
2014 Broadley Vineyards Rocky Hill Vineyard Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
$30. This vineyard is located in the Eola-Amity Hills, owned by John and Kathy Zelko, and managed
by Leigh Bartholomew. 30% whole cluster.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Very shy
aromas of dark fruits and seasoned oak lead to a silky platform of very tasty cherry and red berry
fruits with a compliment of spice. Elegantly styled, with comforting balance and welcoming
persistence of a red berry medley on the finish.
2014 Broadley Vineyards Shea Vineyard Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., 250 cases, $50.
Clones 777 and Wädenswil. 40% whole cluster, wild yeast fermentation in 3-ton open-top Taransaud wood
fermenter for 14 to 21 days, aged 12 months in 30% new and 70% neutral Francois Frères French oak barrels.
Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. Haunting aromas of black fruits, forest floor and violets. Mid weight
flavors of dark red and black fruits with muscular tannins. The wine lacks subtlety upon opening, but the
charming fruit emerges over time in the glass. Nicely crafted, with deft integration of oak, this wine needs a few
years in the cellar.
2014 Broadley Vineyards Estate Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 800
cases, $30. A blend of Pommard, Dijon 115, 667, and 777, and Wädenswil clones from
various blocks including the oldest planted in 1981. 90% de-stemmed, wild yeast
fermentation in open-top fermenters, aged 12 months in Francois Frères French oak barrels,
15% new and balance 1 to 2-year-old.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Hi-tone
aromas of blueberry, black raspberry, spice and iron set the stage for the delicious core of
well-spiced cherry and raspberry fruit flavors. Structured, but balanced, with a satiny texture
and a finish that clings to the palate for what seems like a minute. The most gracious wine tasted here from
Broadley blessed with a grand cru finish. Spot on.
A French-inspired Willamette Valley winery dating to 1989 when Ken and Grace Evenstad, both Burgundy
enthusiasts, invested in a 42-acre hilltop estate in the Dundee Hills of Oregon where Oregon Pinot Noir
originated. They named the winery after their daughter, Serene. Their initial modest winery was located in Carlton and Ken Wright made their first wines dating to 1990. They later
built one of the most modern and technologically advanced wineries in North American, completed in 2001.
With additional property acquisitions, seven estate vineyards were planted over time to Pinot Noir and
Chardonnay on the surrounding hillsides beginning in 1993 as part of The Evenstad Estate, the Winery Hill Estate Vineyard and Two Barns Vineyard were added in 2000, and additional vineyards were developed in the Eola-Amity Hills (Jerusalem Hill Vineyard, 2000) and Yamhill-Carlton (Abbey Oaks Vineyard, 2012) appellations creating a spectacular estate of 251 acres of estate vineyards on 715 acres.
The vineyards are dry-farmed and sustainably managed under the direction of Results Partners Vineyard Management. The current head of the winemaking team (pictured below along with the Evenstads) is Erik Kramer, formerly of
Several Pinot Noirs are produced, including the Willamette Valley blends from three Willamette Valley AVAs,
Evenstad Reserve and Yamhill Cuvée, vineyard-designates, and ultra premium cuvées. The Dundee Hills
Chardonnays (reviewed later in this issue) consist of both blends and single vineyard bottlings. A unique white
Pinot Noir (Coeur Blanc) and Rosé (“r” - a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay), a proprietary red blend (Grand
Cheval) and a single Syrah (Rockblock SoNo) are also offered. The accolades for the wines of Domaine
Serene are unprecedented among Oregon producers.
In April 2015, the Evenstads bought Château de la Crée, a Burgundy wine estate in the Côte d’Or. They will be
making their own wines from famous vineyards including ones in Chassagne-Montrachet, Puligny-Montrachet
The winery’s Tasting Room is open daily with tours of the 5-level winery building available by appointment.
Three types of tastings are offered ($20 to $60) with details available on the winery’s website at
www.domaineserene.com. A new wine tasting experience will open in 2017 in the Domaine Serene Clubhouse.
(pictured below). Several wine club memberships extend exclusive offerings and experiences.
2012 Domaine Serene Yamhill Cuvée Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
13.6%, 7,739 cases, $45. A
blend of grapes from the Dundee Hills, Eola-Amity Hills and Yamhill-Carlton AVAs, all part of Yamhill County.
Aged 13 months in French oak barrels, 47% new.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. A fresh, forward
wine that is eager to please with aromas and flavors of cherry, red berry, spice and a modest grip of oak.
Lighter in weight, with lacy tannins, the wine is nicely balanced and offers a burst of cherry on the finish. The
least extracted offering in the 2012 lineup, but a solid everyday drinking wine that will please at the table.
2012 Domaine Serene Evenstad Reserve Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., 7,982 cases,
$70. The winery’s flagship bottling that represents a consistent blend from premier vineyards in the Dundee
Hills and Eola-Amity Hills. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 65% new.
Moderately dark reddish purple
color in the glass. The spirited berry fruits are overlaid with significant oak top notes of coffee and char more
noticeable on the nose than on the palate. That said, the oak is not drying. The majestic assorted red and black
berry fruit flavors are offered in a mid weight plus style embellished with pleasing spice notes and framed by
integrated tannins. Easy to like, with plenty of swagger, boasting a satiny mouthfeel and some finishing
exuberance. This wine will appeal to those who enjoy a prominent, but not overbearing oak influence.
2012 Domaine Serene Côte Sud Vineyard Dundee Hills Oregon Pinot Noir
13.7%, 384 cases, $90. Estate
grown, produced and bottled. One of seven Evenstad Estate vineyards. 24 acres (19 acres of Pinot Noir), dry-farmed,
south-facing, 600 to 680 feet elevation, closely planted in Jory soil.
Moderately dark reddish purple color
in the glass. Aromas of boysenberry, blackberry, cardamom spice, and char. The mid weight core of black fruits
is complimented by notes of anise, black tea, tobacco and herbs. The fruit has impressive beauty of flavor,
although the oak overlay is a bit aggressive for me. The wine finishes with plenty of resonant fruit fragrance.
2012 Domaine Serene Fleur de Lis Vineyard Dundee Hills Oregon Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., 132 cases, $85 (member
exclusive). Estate grown, produced and bottled. One of seven
dry-farmed estate vineyards located on a hilltop at 720 to 740
feet elevation. Closely planted Dijon clones in Jory soil. An
important component of the Evenstad Reserve bottling. Aged 16
months in French oak barrels, 66% new.
Moderately dark reddish
purple color in the glass. Vigorous aromas of cherry reduction sauce,
strawberry, earthy flora and oak spice lead off. Very elegant in the mouth,
with ebullient flavors of dark red and blue berries accented by a deft
touch of sweet oak. Impressive acid-driven juiciness, cashmere tannins
and good finishing length. Somewhat delicate yet powerfully flavored,
this wine is full of sunlight, and exudes harmony and class. Still
exceptional the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, taking on a darker fruit profile and
maintaining its regal aura.
2012 Domaine Serene Winery Hill Vineyard Dundee Hills Oregon Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., 314 cases, $90
(member exclusive). Estate grown, produced and bottled. Sourced from a 20-acre, dry-farmed, south and west
facing vineyard closely planted to several Dijon clones in Jory soil at 800 to 900 feet elevation (highest elevation on the Estate). Planted in 2000 while
the winery was under construction. Aged 16
months in French oak barrels, 57% new.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Initial conservative aromas
of darker cherry, woodland and musk blossom over time in the glass adding inviting scents of baking spices,
potpourri and dark berries. Very enchanting on the palate, with a mid weight core of black cherry, black
raspberry and blackberry fruit flavors dressed in subtle oak seasoning. Silky in the mouth, with matched
intricate tannins, and juicy acidity that infuses the finish with lip-smacking brightness. Still very appealing the
following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle.
2012 Domaine Serene Jerusalem Hill Vineyard Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 434
cases, $90. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 47% new. Estate grown, produced and bottled. Vineyard is
located in Yamhill County’s Eola-Amity Hills. Assorted clones of Pinot Noir are closely planted in sedimentary
soil in an east-facing site located at 200 to 300 feet elevation.
Demure aromas of berry jam, exotic tea and
sandalwood need time in the glass to emerge. Darker fruits are featured in a middleweight style including
blackberry and black raspberry flavors highlighted by a tug of char-driven oak. This wine has noticeably more
tannic grip but it is not overwrought. The finish is particularly memorable in this wine for its extended length and
opulence. When tasted the following day from a previously opened bottle, the nose was still shy, but the fruit
core was even more giving. A good cellar candidate.
2012 Domaine Serene Two Barns Vineyard Dundee Hills Oregon Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., 422 cases, $90.
Estate grown, produced and bottled. Sourced from a 38-acre vineyard located on the west side of Dundee
Hills. Dry-farmed, west and south-facing, closely planted in sedimentary soils of Willakenzie series. Aged 17
months in French oak barrels, 60% new.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose presents an
inviting marriage of baked cherry and seasoned oak aromas. Impressive depth of fruit, showing flavors of dark
red cherries and berries with a touch of spice and oak. Intense attack, attention-getting mid palate presence,
and a generous finish that exudes luscious cherry fruit. A dreamy wine with cohesive tannins and acidity and
exemplary Dundee Hills character.
2012 Domaine Serene Mark Bradford Vineyard Dundee Hills Oregon Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 344 cases, $125. Named after
Ken and Grace Evenstad’s son and was the first Pinot Noir
vineyard planted at Domaine Serene. Estate grown, produced
and bottled. Vineyard is one of seven estate vineyards. Dry-farmed,
west-facing hillside site at 650 to 750 feet elevation
closely planted to several clones of Pinot Noir in Jory soil. Aged 16
months in French oak barrels, 74% new.
Moderate reddish purple color
in the glass. A slowly evolving, but exceptional nose, offering aromas of
cherry tart, raspberry jam, earth and tobacco. The mid weight plus core
of black cherry and black raspberry fruits attack with a fury and sustain a
presence that really alerts the senses. A somewhat muscular and
aggressively styled wine that nonetheless reflects its Pinot Noir genetics and remains silky in its demeanor.
The plucky tannins are well balanced as is the smart new oak and the deliciously spicy and berry-fueled finish
leaves a memorable impression. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle,
the wine was notable for its seamless character.
2012 Domaine Serene Grace Vineyard Dundee Hills Oregon Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., 340 cases,
$175. Estate grown, produced and bottled. One of seven vineyards of the Evenstad Estate. Dry-farmed,
east-facing, situated at 540 to 640 feet elevation, with Jory soils.
Moderately dark reddish purple
color in the glass. The nose extends a number of nuances, including aromas of an array of black and
purple stone and berry fruits, spice, bacon and even a floral note. Clearly a classy wine on entry,
offering well ripened heady black fruits that are deep on the mid palate, and underpinned by fine-grain
tannins, juicy acidity, and compliments of oak-driven toast and black tea flavors. Packed with flavor, but
light as a ballerina on its feet, this beauty has a very comforting texture. A very long and expansive finish
completes the enjoyment of this majestic wine.
A very reliable producer of superb Yamhill-Carlton estate Pinot Noir had success with the challenging 2013
vintage. Owner and winemaker Steve Lutz (along with David O’Reilly of Owen Roe), told me he picked before
the major rain in September. The wines were difficult to evaluate in barrel, even the first six months after he
bottled them, but are opening up and showing better and better as time goes by. He likens the 2013 vintage to
the 2007 vintage as to weather and the way the wines tasted upon release, improving over time. He said, “I
love the 2013 wines for what they will become more than for what they are.” Lennè Estate Pinot Noir is
produced from a 20.9-acre hillside vineyard. The tasting room on Laughlin Road is open weekends or by
appointment. Visit www.lenneestate.com.
2013 Lenné Estate Le Nez Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
13.4% alc., pH 3.72, TA
0.54, RS <0.05, $30. A blend of five clones in the estate vineyard. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Like a cabin in the forest, this nose is quite woodsy, with
aromas of bark, smoke, spice and black cherry. A bit lean, but offering some gratifying flavors of griotte cherry,
raspberry and spice. Forward, early drinking with modest tannins and some cherry-fueled finish. When tasted
the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the fruit flavors had picked up a little intensity,
but a green thread lurked in the background.
2013 Lenné Estate Estate Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.70, TA
0.56, RS <0.05, $45. A selection of the best barrels from the estate vineyard. Aged 11 months in French oak
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. A shy nose offers primarily earthy and mulch aromas with
some dark fruits emerging with swirling. Much more impressive on the palate with a mid weight plus charge of
luscious black cherry and black raspberry fruits, nicely spiced and oak-tinged. Impressive fullness in the mid
palate with good generosity on the finish. Seemingly reluctant, the wine opened up the following day from a
previously opened and re-corked bottle, showing more aromatic brilliance, and more transparent fruit and spice
on the palate.
2013 Lenné Estate Karen’s Pommard Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
pH 3.76, TA 0.57, RS <0.05, $55. Single clone Pommard from estate vineyard. Aged 11 months in French oak
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Deep perfume of crushed black cherries with an echo of
sandalwood on the nose. The strong attack of mid weight dark cherry, cola and spice flavors grab on to and
persist on the palate, carrying over to a glorious finish that treats the drinker with an interplay of cherry and
spice goodness. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the nose was
exuberant, and the flavor profile still charming, with a savory herbal note in the background.
2013 Lenné Estate Eleanor’s 114 Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH
3.72, TA 0.52, RS <0.02, $55. Single clone Dijon 114 from estate vineyard. Aged 11 months in French oak
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is quite floral, with added aromas of
cherry and nutty oak. Like cherry pie day at cooking school, the red cherry and baking spice flavors
predominate. The tannins are soft and well managed, and the tight, lip-smacking finish featuring cinnamon
spice and cherry is tantalizing. The wine needs a little time to shed some oak overlay, but otherwise is a real
2013 Lenné Estate Jill’s 115 Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.75,
TA 0.52, $55. Single clone Dijon 115 from estate vineyard. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels.
reddish purple color in the glass. Extravagant aromas of cherry and earthy flora lead to a middleweight styled
wine featuring juicy flavors of black cherry, blueberry and pomegranate. Lively and bright, with fine grain
tannins and an uplifting finish replete with cherry liquor goodness. When tasted the following day from a
previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine’s elegance was on full display and the wholesome marriage
of fruit and savory notes was uplifting.
2013 Lenné Estate Kill Hill Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.66, TA
0.56, RS <0.05, $55. Sourced from the most challenging part of the vineyard and composed of clones 667 and
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose was lacking in fruit, offering a display of floral,
vegetal and rusty iron aromas. A very earthy and mineral-infused wine with a riper fruit profile of purple and
black berries and even raisins. Nicely balanced with a silky mouthfeel, but the ripeness didn’t appeal. When
tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine had a vegetal undertone.
My advice would be to cellar these wines for a few years (except the Le Nez) and they might surprise further.
Otherwise, decant them. They are quite different from the powerfully fruited 2012 vintage wines but may have
more appeal for those preferring more elegant, crunchy fruited, vibrant and savory Pinot Noir.