My notes from Day 2 of tasting in the Willamette Valley this year are a little more sketchy than Day 1. For example, I know we visited De Ponte Cellars but for the life of me, I can’t seem to find any info I took with me from that tasting – or any photos. This is what happens when you take too long to jot down your notes. But I do have some of my other notes and memories so I’m going to jot a few here.

1st stop that Saturday was Domaine Serene.

But first, a quick sidebar. It took a fair bit less time than I imagined to drive up to Domaine Serene so we just drove around the hills for a bit before our 11am appt. (Previous visits had suggested there would likely be a lot more traffic on the highway than we ever encountered on this trip, even though it was a holiday weekend.) As we went down one of the gravel roads near De Ponte we happened upon a couple of older women along the side of the road. One was down on the ground and the other was trying to help the other woman up. As we went by it was clear the [very] old woman on the ground was in some distress. She had a cut on her head too. So we stopped to lend a hand. The old woman had taken a tumble in the gravel and her daughter wasn’t able to get her upright to walk the quarter mile or so back home. So, we helped her into the car and drove her up the road and helped her into a chair. Other than a little sore – and frail to begin with – I think she was fine. Our good deed for the day.

Domaine Serene

Domaine Serene has wines that you can routinely find here in Austin, even at HEB grocery. So I’d had some Pinot Noir from here before and loved it but despite previous trips that had me a stones throw away, I’d never managed to visit. So, this one I actually planned in advance, and bought what seems to me in hindsight to be pretty expensive tasting reservations. Advance reservations were $40/person. For that you got to taste 6 wines and there was a plate of cheese/snacks that accompanied.

Domaine Serene

As you can see, the tasting room at Domaine Serene is a large and kinda upscale place. So if nothing else the experience there was nice. We had a private table and someone was assigned to us to lead us thru the tasting. I should have gotten her name but didn’t. She was very knowledgable and a good guide thru the 6 wines. There were two Chardonnay, 3 Pinot Noir and one Rosé.

The Chards in Oregon tend not to be the big oaky and buttery type you’ll get from Calif. So I personally tend to like them better. We started with the 2012 Evenstad Reserve Chard. Winery tasting notes say it “shows complex aromas of citrus blossom, stone fruit, nutmeg and crushed stone”. Despite all that I made a note of how much oak I was getting on it and while I liked this wine I preferred the 2nd of the Chards, the 2011 Etoile Vineyard, better. As a single vineyard wine this one immediately adds $20. 😉 Tongue in cheek of course but I did like this one better. Winery notes: “exhibits the most Chablis-like profile of our of Chardonnays. The aroma boasts … minerality, lime zest and flint, leading to green apple and citrus flavors”. My notes added ‘lemon zest’. I liked this one a lot.

Our next tasting were of three Pinot Noir. The 2011 Yamhill Cuvee, the 2011 Evenstad Reserve and the 2011 Jerusalem Hill Vineyard. While I enjoyed all of them, I can’t say any of them blew me away.

Lastly there was the “r” Rosé. The winery notes on this one say it’s a “proprietary blend that offers the exotic complexity one might find in a Bandol Rosé. The intriguing aroma profile offers notes of citrus blossom, fresh strawberries and passion fruit”. Definitely tasted like something from southern France and yet the $35 price tag was out of line with a comparable and quaffable Rosé imported from that region. As much as I enjoyed this one I’m not going to pay $35 for a pink wine I could just as easily find/enjoy that’s <$15. I preferred the Rosé from Stoller the day before.

White Rose

Just down the hill from Domaine Serene is White Rose Estate. I wanted to return to White Rose based on a previous visit a couple years ago. At that time I logged it as being my favorite Pinot Noir tasting I did on that trip. I was equally happy with the choices this time around and while the 2012 Luciole Vineyard and 2011 Marsh Vineyard Pinot Noirs were awesome, I ended up taking home a 2011 Neo-Classical Objective Pinot. I’ve subsequently found this article about where the name comes from.

The photo here is of the winemaker, Jesus Guillen, at White Rose. He did not appear to be a man of many words but it was nice of him to sign the bottle I bought. When I finally get around to opening it I’ll have to come back and find this photo.

Jesus Guillen at White Rose

Archery Summit

I don’t have notes of the wines at Archery Summit but the wine cave was cool to visit. I snagged this photo on the way in.

Sokol Blosser

We’d been told by multiple people to check out Sokol Blosser. In part, the recommendation was based on checking out the new tasting room. Since the old bldg is still there it’s pretty clear that the new one is 3 or 4 times as large as the old one – with a much more modern design. You can see it in the photo below. The deck out front made for a nice place to just chill out for a while.

Of the wines here, the 2011 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir was my fav. “black cherry, raspberry, cola, cassis”. The 2013 Estate Rosé of Pinot Noir was enjoyable as well.

Dinner later that evening was at La Rambla back in McMinnville. This was a return visit and just as good as I remember. Enjoyed all the food but those fried green beans were killer!