Category: Reviews

Decanter: 10 South & North American Trendsetters You Need to Know About

Posted on September 14, 2021 in Press, Reviews

 

Page 29 | October 2021 Issue | Decanter
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Ken Wright
OREGON

Wright’s story is prototypically American: in spite of a lack of pedigree and finances, he achieved his success in wine through talent, hard work, common sense, courage and access to lands with unrealized potential. What makes him a vital trendsetter in Oregon and in American Pinot Noir is that his triumphs have not only benefited his own cause, but have had a powerful impact on a nation of burgeoning winemakers and wine lovers.

Arriving in Oregon’s restless climate in 1986, he found an economy here growers sold grapes by the tonne, making it near-impossible to get them to drop fruit. So he used his significant powers of persuasion to convince growers to both charge by the acre and follow his farming protocols.

Such shifts may seem trivial today, but Wright’s actions helped spark the major leaps in quality and consistency that catapulted Oregon to its status as a top Pinot region. Likewise, he was among the first to bring sorting tables and dry ice into the winery in Oregon.

Just as crucially, Wright has also been a leader in promoting and mapping Oregon’s terroir. Decades before every vintner seemingly began hiring geologists to map their properties, Wright was professorially lecturing and scrawling on chalkboards to explain how subduction, volcanism and ancient flooding created the distinct flavours of Oregon Pinot Noir. Connecting these flavours to the underlying geology became his passion (while popularizing the mantra ‘mother rock’), leading him to pave the way for American single-vineyard Pinot Noir – of which he released as many as a dozen separate wines in a vintage.

His unrelenting belief in terroir resulted in what will likely be his most durable legacy; the create in 2005 of six sub-appellations in the northern Willamette Valley. Wright’s energy and enthusiasm overcame the skepticism of fellow wine-growers (who thought the demarcation premature). But today no one questions the wisdom of the act because, as Wright has repeatedly shown, shaping the way one thinks about vineyards and earth shapes the wines themselves in a way that benefits everyone.

Ken Wright, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA 2019- 90
US$23-$34 Raspberry and cherry lead the way, joined by hints of vanilla and subtle aromatic spice notes. There’s lovely weight in the mouth, accompanied by finely honed tannins. Drink 2021-2026. Alc 13.5%­­­

—Jordan MacKay

 

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New 2017 Vintage Reviews by Vinous

Posted on September 4, 2020 in Reviews

We are thrilled to share some new reviews from Vinous, founded by wine critic, Antonio Galloni, in 2013. Antonio has crafted a site that brings together professional wine reviewers, thematic stories, videos, photos and reader opinion in a dynamic, interactive setting. Vinous’ ultimate goal is to create a wine lovers community. We hope you enjoy Vinous editor, Josh Raynolds, tasting notes and scores on several of our single vineyard Pinot noirs from the 2017 vintage!

What was the 2017 vintage like in the Willamette Valley? Click here to read Ken’s vintage notes or click here to read his 2017 harvest letter.

From Josh’s recent article— Oregon Pinot Noir: The Winning Streak Continues, Josh describes the 2017 vintage as follows:

“2017 – Classic Style, Solid Frame

Two thousand-seventeen has shaped up to be a truly remarkable vintage for the sheer number of bright, more classically styled Pinot Noirs it produced. And that’s in spite of an August that was the hottest ever recorded here. The outstanding wines – and there are a staggering number of them –showcase lively but well-concentrated red fruit, floral and spice character, along with freshness and well-integrated tannins that make them, in most cases, highly enjoyable to drink already. The wines’ balance will allow them to age gracefully for some time. I suspect that many of my drinking windows could look overly conservative down the road. Even better news is that harvest was abundant and there’s plenty of wine to go around.

A rainy spring was followed by a normal budbreak. Moderate conditions prevailed through the end of June, helping to produce a large fruit set. The ongoing clement weather kept the fruit ripening at a favorable, even slightly slow pace, much to the delight of growers and winemakers. By the end of July, hopes were high that the grapes, which had seen no heat spikes, were set up to produce wines of distinct freshness, with good acidity and low alcohol levels. Stem and skin lignifications were very good and a number of producers were able to work with more whole clusters in their fermentations than usual. Then the weather turned hot – really hot – and stayed that way until the end of August, pushing sugar levels higher, although acidity levels stayed healthy. There was zero mildew pressure on the vines, which is always a concern when conditions are hot and damp. Cooler conditions extended through September, setting the stage for most producers to begin harvest at the very end of the month, bringing in plenty of ripe but fresh, clean and perfectly healthy fruit.” Click here to read the full article

2017 Ken Wright Cellars Reviews

2017 Abbott Claim Pinot Noir

Vinous Score: 93 points 

Tasting Notes: Limpid ruby-red. Highly perfumed aromas of red fruit liqueur, cherry cola, candied flowers and exotic spices, along with a smoky mineral overtone. Nicely concentrated yet energetic on the palate, offering appealingly sweet, spice-accented raspberry, cherry liqueur and rose pastille flavors that deepen slowly with air. Conveys a suave blend of power and vivacity and finishes with well-knit tannins and superb, floral-driven persistence. 23% new oak.— Josh Raynolds

2017 Bonnie Jean Pinot Noir

Vinous Score: 92 points

Tasting Notes: Glistening ruby-red. Highly perfumed red fruit preserve, cherry cola, floral and baking spice scents, along with a smoky mineral overtone. Nicely concentrated yet lively on the palate, offering sweet, spice-accented raspberry, cherry liqueur, rose pastille and spicecake flavors that spread out slowly through the midpalate. Smoothly blends power and finesse and finishes with sneaky tannins and strong, floral-driven persistence. 23% new oak. — Josh Raynolds

2017 Bryce Pinot Noir

Vinous Score: 93 points

Tasting Notes: Saturated magenta. Potent, spice-tinged red and blue fruit preserve and floral qualities on the nose, along with hints of vanilla and cola. Sappy and penetrating in the mouth, offering appealingly sweet black raspberry and mulberry flavors underscored by a vein of juicy acidity. Lush yet energetic as well, showing excellent clarity and spicy lift on the persistent finish, which is framed by supple, polished tannins. — Josh Raynolds

2017 Canary Hill Pinot Noir

Vinous Score: 94 points

Tasting Notes: Brilliant ruby. A highly expressive bouquet evokes fresh red berries, candied rose and baking spices, and a smoky element builds in the glass. Oak-spiced raspberry and cherry cola flavors are underscored and energized by a core of juicy acidity. In an energetic style, delivering firm closing bite and smooth tannins that lend shape and subtle grip to the strikingly long, penetrating finish. 23% new oak. — Josh Raynolds

2017 Guadalupe Pinot Noir

Vinous Score: 92 points

Tasting Notes: Vivid ruby-red. Powerful, spice-tinged cherry and floral pastille scents are complemented by suggestions of licorice and succulent flowers. Rich and chewy on the palate, offering mineral-accented black raspberry and cherry cola flavors that coat the palate. Finishes very long and subtly smoky, with well-knit tannins building steadily and adding gentle grip to lingering cherry and mocha notes. Raised in 23% new oak. — Josh Raynolds

2017 Latchkey Pinot Noir

Vinous Score: 93 points

Tasting Notes: Bright ruby. Ripe red and blue fruits, pungent flowers, licorice, mocha and a hint of smoky minerals on the deeply perfumed nose. Juicy and supple on the palate, offering intense boysenberry and cherry preserve flavors that are lifted and sharpened by an undercurrent of zesty acidity. The spice and floral notes repeat strongly on an impressively long, cherry-driven finish, where rounded tannins come in late. — Josh Raynolds

2017 Savoya Pinot Noir

Vinous Score: 93 points

Tasting Notes:  Deep magenta. Highly perfumed aromas of red fruit liqueur, cherry cola, musky flowers and exotic spices carry a smoky mineral overtone. Smooth and supple in texture, offering sweet, mineral-laced boysenberry, cherry, candied rose and spice cake flavors that spread out steadily with air. Delivers a suave blend of depth and energy and finishes very long and spicy, displaying harmonious tannins and fine clarity. 23% new oak. — Josh Raynolds

2017 Shea Pinot Noir

Vinous Score: 94 points

Tasting Notes: Deep, glistening ruby-red. Deeply perfumed scents of red berry liqueur, cherry cola and baking spices, and a floral overtone that emerges with air. Sweet and seamless on the palate, offering juicy black raspberry, cherry-vanilla and rose pastille flavors plus a smoky top note. The spice and floral notes repeat on a long, smooth finish framed by sneaky, harmonious tannins. 23% new oak. — Josh Raynolds

2017 Tanager Pinot Noir

Vinous Score: 93 points

Tasting Notes: Glistening ruby-red. Assertively perfumed, mineral-accented red berry and cherry aromas are complemented by suggestions of five-spice powder and potpourri. Silky and appealingly sweet, offering incisive raspberry, cherry and floral pastille flavors that are complemented by a smoky mineral quality. Shows fine clarity and spicy lift on the long, energetic finish, which is framed by gentle, even tannins. — Josh Raynolds

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