Yes, we know that Pinot Noir is the flagship grape of Burgundy. Yes, we know that California makes great Pinot and that New Zealand’s Pinot Noir is grand. But there is something about Willamette Valley Pinot Noir…
Dudley’s Do Right
A recent trip to Lexington, KY, for a board meeting had a delicious surprise. That surprise was Dudley’s on Short. Dudley's is known for its culinary prowess and, I discovered, a really great wine list.
The restaurant is located in the historic Northern Bank Building. Built in 1889 it was one of the most prominent in downtown Lexington and today provides a fascinating and ideal setting for meals.
My delight was heightened when I was informed that the group may not hit the minimum guarantee on the meal. That didn’t necessarily cheer me, but when I was asked to pick out a few bottles to bump up the total, I was happy to oblige.
Two wines from Oregon were among my picks, a sparkler from Argyle and a Pinot from… Willamette Valley.
The terroir of Oregon is similar to Burgundy, where Pinot Noir reigns supreme. So it is no surprise that Pinot Noir from Oregon is a real treasure. Three quarters of Oregon’s vineyards are within the Willamette Valley AVA. Willamette Valley is further subdivided into six sub-appellations: McMinnville, Ribbon Ridge, Amity-Eola Hills, Yamhill-Carlton, Dundee Hills and Chehalem Mountains. Perhaps no area in the world produces better Pinot Noir.
The Yamhill Cuvée uses grapes primarily from the Yamhill-Carlton region where the Domaine Serene winery is located, but it is labelled “Willamette Valley” as it also uses grapes from Amity-Eola Hills and Dundee Hills. Domaine Serene considers this their “entry level” Pinot, but it consistently gets 90+ ratings and outshines many reserve Pinot Noirs.
On the palate this is a medium bodied wine with great balance. It is aged for 14 months in French oak (40% new), but it isn’t ponderous. The aging adds a bit of structure to a wine that offers raspberry and herbal notes. It’s a polished and elegant wine that complements a variety of food, especially lighter entrees. You don’t want a charbroiled T-bone to overpower your Pinot – but pork (a traditional pairing), chicken, lighter beef dishes and salmon are sublime.
Domaine Serene’s Yamhill Cuvée retails for about $44. It’s a superior wine that delivers Willamette Valley goodness for an affordable price tag.