News & Reviews
We have been honored with the following scores from Wine Enthusiast on our 2021 AVA Series Pinot noir!
2021 Eola-Amity Hills AVA Pinot Noir
“This is a Goldilocks special, because the fruit, alcohol, acidity and tannins are just right. Rainier cherry and lavender aromas are joined by smaller notes of leather and a new cedar chest drawer. The wine’s cassis, orange pith and smoky Lapsang souchong tea flavors float on a soft, smooth texture. Editors Choice.” — Michael Alberty, WE
2021 Yamhill-Carlton AVA Pinot Noir
“Tangy boysenberries and raspberries mingle on the nose with aromas of cinnamon spice and orange zest. The medium-bodied wine’s strawberry pie, fresh basil and balsa flavors are supported by silky tannins and lemony acidity. Balanced refreshment.” — Michael Alberty, WE
We have been honored with the following scores released by the Wine Spectator on a selection of our 2021 vintage single vineyard Pinot noir! The tasting notes below were crafted by Tim Fish, the senior editor at Wine Spectator.
2021 Bonnie Jean Vineyard Pinot Noir
Refined and polished, with elegantly structured raspberry, fresh violet, sandalwood and other dusky spices, finishing with fine-grained tannins. Drink now through 2032. 679 cases made.— Tim Fish, WS
2021 Carter Vineyard Pinot Noir
Graceful and polished, with multilayered cherry and blueberry flavors that take on cinnamon and fresh earth accents. Ends with refined tannins. Drink now through 2031. 667 cases made.— Tim Fish, WS
2021 Latchkey Vineyard Pinot Noir
Snappy with tension and lively acidity, this red bursts with raspberry, cherry blossom and spice flavors that glide toward refined tannins. Drink now through 2031. 390 cases made.— Tim Fish, WS
2021 McCrone Vineyard Pinot Noir
Well-sculpted and expressive, with detailed raspberry, pomegranate, orange peel and dusky spice flavors that gather richness and tension on the finish. Drink now through 2030. 538 cases made. — Tim Fish, WS
2021 Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir
Handsomely structured and detailed, with expressive rose petal, raspberry and blueberry-and orange-tinged tea accents that build tension toward medium-grained tannins. Drink now through 2030. 1,432 cases made. — Tim Fish, WS
With over 19,000 acres of Pinot Noir planted, Oregon’s Willamette Valley has become one of the United States’ premiere growing regions for the red grape from Burgundy since it was first planted there in the 1960s. That is more than double the amount of all other varieties combined growing there, highlighting the fact that this 100-mile-long region between the Cascade Mountains and the Coast Range is prime Pinot Noir country. In fact, more than 80 percent of all the Pinot Noir cultivated in the state is grown in the Willamette Valley, which is home to over 700 wineries.
To the west, the Coast Range shelters vineyards running along the Willamette River from frigid Pacific air and rainstorms, while on the opposite side the Cascade Mountains provide a barrier to the arid, desert-like climate of eastern Oregon. Temperate summers with cool nights, sunny autumns, and a combination of volcanic and sedimentary soils offer perfect conditions for ripening grapes with complex flavors and vivid acidity. Thanks to the number of French families who have put down roots here, Willamette has been called the Burgundy of the Pacific Northwest, producing New World versions of Pinot Noir that have been likened by many to those from their home region. Concentrated yet elegant, these will pair well with roast or fried chicken, grilled pork, risotto with mushrooms, or pan seared veal chops.
Ken Wright and his family founded Ken Wright Cellars in 1994 in downtown Carlton, and since that time he has been very involved in town planning for this historic community. He currently makes 13 different single vineyard bottlings in the northern Willamette Valley. The 2018 Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir is ruby colored with aromas of blueberry, dried herbs, cinnamon, and freshly picked black cherry. It has flavors of cranberry, pomegranate, and red raspberry with pleasant touches of creosote and licorice. Drink now or through 2033.
The winery tells me that all the 2021 single vineyard wines will be released over the next few months. Carter and Canary Hill may already have sold out. It’s worth a special salute to Ken that his prices have barely budged in years and a further discount (down to $55) is offered to club members. As always with young wines, let ‘em breathe!
Here are my notes and scores:
Ken Wright 2021 Bonnie Jean Vineyard Pinot Noir
Young as it is this wine already has the rich, dense and expressive aromas of a wine with a half decade behind it. The alcohol remains low, which allows more subtlety and elegance across the entire 2021 portfolio. Lightly cooked cherries, baking spices and delicate touches of floral highlights cut across the palate. One fifth of the barrels were new. The youth shows mostly in the edgy tannins, which will smooth out with another couple of years in the bottle or aggressive aeration.
679 cases; 12.8%; $65 (Yamhill-Carlton) 92/100
Ken Wright 2021 Carter Vineyard Pinot Noir
Tart, racy raspberry fruit shines here, backed with juicy acids that mix Meyer lemon and blood orange. Beautifully defined and precise, this wine should cellar quite well indefinitely. Meanwhile, decant it and enjoy it for its ebullient youth.
667 cases; 13.3%; $65 (Eola-Amity Hills) 92/100
Ken Wright 2021 Savoya Vineyard Pinot Noir
This fresh and berry-laden wine bursts forth with a mix of rhubarb, cranberries and raspberries. The acids are softened and smooth, underscoring a palate-prickling hint of jicama. Complex and captivating, this elegant wine continues to expand and add layers as it breathes open.
503 cases; 13.2%; $65 (Yamhill-Carlton) 93/100
Ken Wright 2021 Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir
Now more than three decades since it was first planted, the Shea vineyard is as iconic in Oregon as any site can claim to be. Dozens of wineries seek these grapes, and it’s a pleasure to see what a veteran such as Ken Wright can do with them. He keeps the alcohol low, yielding a bright, savory, spicy wine anchored in brambly berries and tannins reminiscent of herbal tea. Complex and a bit unyielding, this is a wine to aerate aggressively if you are planning to drink it any time soon. Tasted on the second day it was slowly gaining volume. My 3/3/23 Wine of the Week.
1432 cases; 12.8%; $65 (Yamhill-Carlton) 94/100
Ken Wright 2021 Canary Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir
Among the oldest vines (planted 1983 in Ken Wright’s single vineyard series, Canary Hill also benefits from its Pommard clones. It’s juicy and fresh, crisply defined with flavors of just-picked wild berries backed with vivid citrus. Aging in 20% new French oak puts a lightly toasty frame around it, nicely balanced against the ripping acids. I would guess its best days are a half decade away.
608 cases; 13.5%; $65 (Eola-Amity Hills) 94/100
March 3, 2023 | Wine of the Week
Ken Wright Cellars 2021 Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir
Now more than three decades since it was first planted, the Shea vineyard is as iconic in Oregon as any site can claim to be. Dozens of wineries seek these grapes, and it’s a pleasure to see what a veteran such as Ken Wright can do with them. He keeps the alcohol low, yielding a bright, savory, spicy wine anchored in brambly berries and tannins reminiscent of herbal tea. Complex and a bit unyielding, this is a wine to aerate aggressively if you are planning to drink it any time soon. Tasted on the second day it was slowly gaining volume. This has a long life ahead. 1432 cases; 12.8%; $65 (Yamhill-Carlton)