Picking a Thanksgiving wine presents endless variables and pitfalls. Let’s make this simple. Choose one that will impress but not challenge or overwhelm both guests and the food. Imagine that polite, introverted guest who may not be the most memorable but charmed everyone. A wine so approachable, balanced, moderately complex but not showy does exist.
My charming/belligerent evening at Salud! wine auction (read here) inspired me. The Willamette Valley churns out many quality Pinot Noir. Today’s recommended bottle of Domaine Serene merits a place on your Thanksgiving table.
For a bit of background, Grace and Ken Evenstad came to Oregon from Minnesota and, by 1990, threw their finances into mimicking Burgundy. They own six vineyards. In 2001 DS built a winery dripping with francophilic pretensions including their Disneyland chalk caverns. They even bought Burgundian Château de la Crée in 2015 to complete the circle.
Their winemaking is stellar. Sustainably, dry-farmed grape lots head to 250 separate, dry-iced soaks (they invented), then ferment, followed down gravity feeds into 70 different kinds of top quality barrels from 15 coopers, aging longer than most, blended, and then bottle aged (with their own corks) for one to two years (a luxury). Let us test their flagship: Evenstad Reserve 2014
Domaine Serene, Pinot Noir, Evenstad Reserve, Willamette Valley, OR 2014 $45.00 to $70.00/ Bottle
Evenstad lives 16 months in surprisingly high 60% new French oak barrels.
The APPEARANCE looks clear, with a moderate ruby color that fades to watery steal with limpid legs.
AROMAS lift with a bit of small drama from the glass with ripe red cranberry, raspberry, framed by light mint and dried vanilla bean.
The PALATE feels dry and imminently even-kieled, with present, uncombative medium acidity, tannin, alcohol, and body: it is round and silken.
Medium plus FLAVORS carry mashed red cherry, raspberry water, vanilla, dried tobacco, and light baking spices carry for a long yet gentle length.
DS’s flagship Pinot Noir is outstanding (5 of 5), faultless, pleasing wine. It may get lost at a professional tasting or competition. But it will hold its own against all that salt and butter and gravy, freshening palates yet not obtruding with acids or tannins. Even the names Serene and Evenstad sound stable, reliable, friendly.
It is exactly the guest you invite back.