Tag Archives: Red Wine

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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The Ultimate Guide to Yamhill-Carlton AVA


Posted on June 11, 2021 in Press

By Erin James | Sip Magazine 

The origin story of the Yamhill-Carlton AVA in Oregon’s Northern Willamette Valley is more intricate and involved than just its 2004 establishment. It’s more than the low ridges that surround the two towns of Yamhill and Carlton in the shape of a horseshoe, more than the North Yamhill River that courses through the rich agricultural land, the forestry encasing it, the Coast Range’s rain shadow coverage or even the ancient marine soils.

This story is about the right plant in the right place. The tale begins in 1995 when the burgeoning collection of Northern Willamette Valley winemakers, grape growers and community members came together to create six sub-appellations of their own.

“Any time you’re trying to create anything of this magnitude, there is endless strife to do it and the fact that we pulled it off is amazing,” says Ken Wright, proprietor and winemaker of acclaimed Ken Wright Cellars, who was instrumental in writing the FDA proposal for the six regions to receive individual designation. “We came together to identify the world-class parts of the Northern Willamette Valley as we were seeing different qualities coming from the different regions.”

In their experience of farming and producing wines in these neighboring areas, the community of vintners concluded that each region’s distinctly different soil material resulted in producing distinctly different wines. Volcanic soil material, such as that found in the Dundee Hills, would produce Pinot Noir that had a red fruit–focused profile, with strawberry, cherry and raspberry. In Eola-Amity Hills, which is also volcanic in its soil, they found darker fruits like cassis, blackberry, blueberry and black cherry. In the old ocean bed with marine sediment of Yamhill-Carlton, Wright says a divergent, savory profile emerged with anise, clove, tobacco, cedar and fresh-turned earth.

Wright explains that the source of these regional differences isn’t the soil, per se, but the soil series — the entire profile that encompasses the soil, the root system and the parent material, or “mother rock.” In Yamhill-Carlton, that ancient marine mother rock — created 200 million years ago with the evolving coastline — is the base material that contributes to what Wright calls a “treasure trove of trace elements,” such as magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron and copper that contribute to its identity of place.

“Those trace elements provide health to the plant, but in our world what’s equally important is whatever trace elements below the soil will end up being the influence that creates the profile of that wine and that place,” Wright details. “As farmers, we hope to be that deep into the mother rock. You have to be farming in that way to have the right populations of microbiology to deliver trace elements. We need those aerobic, microbial populations to be successful, we need them to create wines that truly connect us to place.”

Wright likens Northern Willamette Valley Pinot Noir to San Marzano tomatoes, the famed plum tomato variety originally from the small Italian town of San Marzano sul Samo, grown in volcanic soil in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. “San Marzano tomatoes are amazing because that plant found its perfect home,” Wright says. “We have that here, this very small area of the Northern Willamette Valley that covers all of these AVAs, this part of the world was just waiting for Pinot Noir to be planted here.”

For Pinot Noir, and other varieties grown in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA, marine sediment makes up the soil series and builds the character of the wine. Wright says that coarse, granular, well-drained mother rock loses moisture as a result of its composition, therefore influencing the vine to ripen earlier than a region with volcanic material — a bonus for growers and winemakers as this can mean avoiding a lot of fruit-destroying weather issues, like rain. That, among a few other reasons, is why seven of the 13 single-vineyard Ken Wright wines hail from this region.

“I love all the regions but I love this profile,” the winemaker says of the AVA. “When we are perfectly ripe, we tend to have a little bit less acidity than the volcanic [sediment areas] so the wines here tend to be lush and enjoyable right out of the gate. We tend to have both blue and red fruit, a beautiful, seamless marriage of the two. Underneath that, there’s cocoa, tobacco, cedar, baking spices and a fresh earthiness; lots of floral qualities, but not herbaceous — it’s more like violet and rose. The wines tend to be quite complex and texturally very enjoyable.”

Dig into the ancient marine soil series of Yamhill-Carlton by way of these seven wines — each of which found their place in this unique Northern Willamette Valley AVA.

Ken Wright Cellars 2017 Savoya Vineyard Chardonnay 

Ken Wright, a bona fide Master of Pinot Noir, colors outside that varietal box just a few times to showcase what also grows beautifully in Yamhill-Carlton: Chardonnay clone Dijon 548 planted on half an acre at Savoya Vineyard. Fermented and aged in French oak barrels, the wine is brilliant, clean and vibrant. A lovely glycerin quality peaks out with beeswax on the nose and a mouth-filling texture on the palate, while honeycomb, white flower, guava and mineral rest on bright acid. | $55 Click Here to Purchase

Ken Wright Cellars 2017 Savoya Vineyard Pinot Noir

Tasting Ken Wright’s wines back-to-back draws a parallel of sophistication between them, a consistency that exudes supple texture, savory qualities and a freshness that allows the wines to be enjoyed now, or later. Spice and floral notes bloom in front of the red fruit in this wine, but make way for smoked cedar, mineral, cola, blackberry and more of that red fruit. Complex, smooth and with brilliant clarity. | $62.50 Click Here to Purchase

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Wine Enthusiast: 10 Vineyards Behind the World’s Most Famous Wines


Posted on March 10, 2021 in Press

BY J’NAI GAITHER

Shea Vineyard

Because of Burgundy’s storied pedigree, Pinot Noir is almost as noble as grapes come. And Pinot Noir in the States is gaining a foothold. Even Burgundian denizens praise Oregon’s Willamette Valley for its great terroir for Pinot production.

The region’s Mecca is often considered to be  Shea Vineyard, a 290-acre property in Yamhill County renowned for its sedimentary sandstone soil. Shea dedicates 149 acres to Pinot Noir and six acres to Chardonnay.

Proprietor Dick Shea supplies grand cru-quality grapes to some of the most vaunted and well- known Oregon and California wineries.

Notable Producers: Bergström, Ken Wright Cellars, Shea Wine Cellars, Winderlea

Click here to Read Full Article

Purchase Ken Wright Cellars Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir

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Vogue Magazine- The Best Wines to Drink With Takeout, According to Sommeliers


Posted on October 28, 2020 in Press

Sure, you know the basics: White wine goes well with fish, red wine with red meat—a perfect rule for the simple week-night dishes you whip up at home. Going out and want something more complicated? You can just ask your waiter, or the restaurant’s sommelier, for suggestions.

But what happens when two culinary worlds collide, and you order out to eat in? You’re probably in that situation a lot lately. (Here’s a statistic for you: in May, DoorDash—the online delivery service that also owns Caviar—reported orders were up 110 percent since the beginning of the year. During lockdown, people were stuck inside, and therefore ordering in more.) It often presents a pairing predicament: what, exactly, goes well with spicy pad thai, Shake Shack, or the sausage pizza you ordered hungover on a Sunday night?

In an act of extremely important service journalism, Vogue asked sommeliers and wine experts from across the country to help us solve this particular quandary. Without further ado, our definitive guide on the best wines to pair with your takeout, from fried chicken to Chinese food.

Pizza

Pinot Noir. “In today’s time of take-out and eating at home—a personal favorite (and minor guilty pleasure) is pizza and a good bottle of Pinot Noir. If we have classic Margherita or mushroom pizza, a great pairing can be red Burgundy, preferably Gevrey-Cambertin or Nuits-Saint-Georges, as their fruit expression will not overpower the taste of the simple ingredients. If we have pepperoni or pizza with any type of meat or spice, some great pairings would be with Nebbiolo or Sangiovese because of their raspberries, cherries, dried fruit and leather notes, as well as higher tannins that can hold their own when up against that type of food.”

-Marija Mijic, sommelier and beverage director at La Mercerie

Sparkling wine. “Sparkling wine is a great style to have in the fridge because it pairs excellently with many takeout options. It will enlighten a vegetarian dish, cleanse your palate when eating fried food, balance out a spicier dish, and, my personal favorite, will pair beautifully with white pizza.”

-Geneviève Pelletier, partner at Lieu Di

Lambrusco. “Lambrusco and pizza are one of my favorite pairings. It has a little fizz to cut through the melty cheese plus a savory side for the tomato, spices, and pepperoni. Vigneto Saetti Lambrusco is a slightly earthy bottling that is great with mushroom pizza and the nuttiness of parmesan.”

-Amy Racine, beverage director of JF Restaurants

Barolo. “I cooked in Piemonte for two years and naturally ate a lot of pizza and drank a lot of red wine. On pizza nights (or afternoons), Italians didn’t shy away from opening a nice bottle of red wine which always elevated the experience. The dusty fruit and juicy tannins of Nebiollo’s like A. & G. Fantino “Cascina Dardi” Barolo cut through the rich mozzarella and transports me back to Piemonte.”

-Kelly Mariani, culinary director at Scribe Winery and former chef at Chez Panisse

Sushi

Champagne. “Raw fish and bubbles work really well together. I had this fun pairing last week with Marie-Noelle Ledru Extra-Brut Grand Cru. It’s all about clean fresh flavors and rich textures. This combo feels luxurious and celebratory!”

-Kelly Mariani

Riesling. “When it comes to sushi, it depends largely on what type of sauces are used and the way it’s prepared. Riesling—especially semi-sweet to sweet style—is the perfect pairing if there is wasabi or ginger. Riesling’s apple, pear, quince and sometimes even expressive citrus notes, along with the residual sugar and bracingly high acidity, are magically harmonious with spice.”

-Marija Mijic

Assyrtiko. “A colorful and fresh array of sushi calls for an equally fresh and tart wine. Assyrtiko is a Greek grape variety that has a tone of mineral that pairs well to fresh fish and anything briny like the seaweed wrapper on your favorite roll. Sigalas makes a great Assyrtiko from Santorini, where ocean winds are constantly whipping around the grapes. You can taste that saline quality in the wine so it pairs perfectly to any sushi or sashimi.”

-Amy Racine

Mexican Food

Chenin Blanc or Chardonnay. “Sonoma has some excellent Mexican food and I’m often grabbing Mexico City-style street tacos with friends. Alongside tacos, I love drinking crisp and textural white wines, like Chardonnay or Chenin Blanc, especially our friend Joel’s Las Jaras Chenin.”

-Kelly Mariani

Pinot Noir. “A hearty burrito with a spicy salsa calls for a juicy, but low tannin red wine so it doesn’t amplify the spice (in a bad way). Willamette Valley makes excellent Pinot Noirs in Oregon that fit the bill perfectly. Ken Wright makes a style that has a smokey tone for the beans and char on the tortilla. It’s fruitiness comes by way of plum and blackberry flavors, which are especially great for a beefy carne asada burrito.”

-Amy Racine

2018 Ken Wright Cellars Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

Champagne. “Champagne can be sweet and toasty, but a Gronget Blanc de Blancs Brut is bright, citrusy, and savory. It’s my go-to for anything spicy and smokey. Mexican flavors just seem to be the perfect match.”

-Christine Collado, general manager at Parcelle Wines

Pet’Nat. “I eat Mexican food about three times a week because there is a good place across the street from work. I usually get a crispy fish taco, guacamole and chips and then build from there. The Texan in me always wants a Mexican beer to wash it all down, but for a wine substitute, Pet’Nat gets the job done. It’s a little more raw and extremely expressive. Those ingredients work well with a lift of acidic bite and bubbles make every bite brighter.”

-Zwann Grays, Wine Director at Olmsted

Fried Chicken

Rosé. “A dry rosé is great with fried chicken. You need something really dry and tart to be refreshing between those crunchy bites of chicken. Plus, if it’s a well-seasoned fried chicken or has a little spice/hot sauce, the fruit from rosé cools you off and gets you ready for the next piece. La Fête du Rosé is one of my favorites from Saint-Tropez—it’s dry, crisp, and refreshing.”

-Amy Racine

Chardonnay. “Chardonnay from Burgundy can take any chicken dish and make it fancy. Even if it’s from Chick-Fil-A.”

-Christine Collado

Chinese Food

Chablis. “Chablis and Crab Rangoon are a knockout. The region of Chablis in France only works with Chardonnay, but doesn’t use new oak, so it isn’t too heavy or buttery. It just has a creamy texture to it which echoes the filling of the Rangoon. The flavors of the wine are slightly nutty, like blanched almond, which pairs to that flakey wonton wrapper.”

-Amy Racine

Rosé. “When I’m not drinking Scribe rosé I’m drinking Domaine Tempier thanks to my years in the kitchen at Chez Panisse. Tempier’s Matriarch Lulu just passed, giving us yet another reason to raise a glass of this delicious wine. This iconic rosé is refreshing and rich enough to compliment the myriad of flavors and complexities of Chinese cuisine.”

-Kelly Mariani

Thai Food

Riesling or Pinot Noir. “Our favorite wines to drink with Thai food are either an off-dry Riesling or Pinot Noir. The sweetness of the riesling goes well with the mouth watering spiciness, and a lighter pinot noir complements the full flavors of the food.”

-Bobby Leonardo, bartender at Wayla

Rosso Sicilia. “Have this delicious Sicilian red with a chill. Pair it with noddles or a curry. It’s great.”

-Christine Collado

Burgers

Nouveau or Beaujolais. “Nouveau is our first glimpse into this year’s harvest and we’re bottling our 2020 vintage this week. Alongside a burger, I want to drink a chilled, crushable red wine from California or Beaujolais in France with enough body to stand up to the juicy meat and smokey char.”

-Kelly Mariani

Australian Grenache. “The only thing to order from In-n-Out is the Double-Double with cheese, and the only thing to drink with it is Australian Grenache. Because burgers are primarily defined by grease and heaviness, they call for wines that are big on flavor, body, and alcohol so they don’t get buried in the starch-and-fat groundswell. This down-under twist on the classically European grape is thick and dense, making for a heavy hitter combo of high tannin and alcohol that washes away any lingering grease from the meat and cheese. If you ask for your burger ‘animal-style,’ you’ll get it with mustard fried into each patty, plus pickles, chopped grilled onions and an extra helping of In-N-Out’s famous sauce (think Thousand Island Dressing). They all blend beautifully into the spiced plum, new leather, stewed berries and dried herbs that typify hot-climate Aussie Grenache.”

-Vanessa Price, author of Big Macs & Burgundy

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Willamette Valley pinot noir loses a friend in Ruth Bader Ginsburg


Posted on October 1, 2020 in Press

Article by Michael Alberty | For The Oregonian/OregonLive

In 2008, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her family journeyed to Carlton, Oregon, to render a verdict on Willamette Valley pinot noir. It was a unanimous decision: delightful as charged.

In the wake of Ginsburg’s death last Friday, mourners celebrated her life and a legal career spent championing equal rights. Close friends also found time to remember Ginsburg’s more private pursuits. Opera singer and friend Joseph Calleja posted on Instagram: “Her love of food and wine only confirms that she was a perfect being.”

In September 2008, Ginsburg traveled to the Willamette University College of Law in Salem for the Oregon Civic Justice Center’s dedication ceremony. Despite a busy schedule of activities, Ginsburg found time for a secret mission: a visit to Ken Wright Cellars in Carlton.

News that Ginsburg wanted to meet with him was a bolt from the blue for winemaker Ken Wright.

“We only heard about it a week in advance. Then her security team called two days before she arrived to nail down every little detail, including the route we’d be taking to visit McCrone Vineyard,” Wright said.

The arrival of Ginsburg, her family, and Secret Service agents in black vehicles with tinted windows was not an everyday occurrence in the sleepy little wine town of Carlton.

“It was pretty funny with all those suits in sunglasses running around. It was also quite a scene when everyone packed into my winery office,” Wright said.

Ginsburg’s visit was exploratory in nature. According to Wright, “She was just getting into pinot noir, and she wanted to know why the Willamette Valley was so special. She wanted to know why this grape worked so well here.”

To tell the Willamette Valley’s story, Wright packed Ginsburg, her husband Martin “Marty” Ginsburg, and her daughter Jane C. Ginsburg off to McCrone Vineyard. The vineyard, owned by Don and Carole McCrone, is located just north of Carlton, in the Yamhill-Carlton American Viticultural Area.

“The vineyard sits on a ridgeline with a view that allows you to see everything from the Coastal Mountains to the Eola-Amity Hills. It’s a nice spot to explain things,” Wright said.

Wright’s family joined the group along with the McCrones and Mr. and Mrs. Michael Bennett from Willamette University. It was a warm day, so a tent was constructed, and as much water was poured as wine.

Wright remembers the Ginsburg family being knowledgeable about wine, with a wine vocabulary to describe what they liked and didn’t like.

“The words freshness, texture and purity came up a lot as they talked about Willamette Valley pinot noir. Especially purity,” Wright said. Oregon’s signature grape had a new set of fans.

The Ginsburg family left just as much of an impression on Wright.

“It was a super enjoyable two hours. Justice Ginsburg was an amazing, open person. We didn’t talk a lot about politics. We discussed wine and other mutual interests we enjoyed. She was definitely a thoughtful, critical thinker,” Wright said.

When the vineyard session concluded, the convoy traveled back to the winery, where Wright set up Justice Ginsburg with an assortment of wines based on their vineyard discussions. “Then ‘poof,’ she was gone,” Wright said. Wright returned to harvest preparation.

A few days later, Wright received another bolt from the blue: an envelope from Washington, D.C.

“It was just the most beautiful ‘thank-you’ note from Justice Ginsburg. Her family loved wine for all the right reasons,” Wright said.

— Michael Alberty writes about wine for The Oregonian/OregonLive. He can be reached at malberty0@gmail.com. To read more of his coverage, go to oregonlive.com/wine.

Note to readers: if you purchase something through one of our affiliate links we may earn a commission.

 

Photos of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Visit to Ken Wright Cellars & McCrone Vineyard

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Smoke & Safety Update


Posted on October 1, 2020 in Announcements

Sept. 2020

Just checking in with everyone to let you know that our families and our teams are safe both regarding COVID-19 and the fires in Oregon. We are extremely grateful to have been spared from fires and smoke damage. Our hearts go out to so many in the west coast wine communities that are still battling.

Our team is not unfamiliar with battling fires and emergencies across Oregon. Ken has been serving as the board treasurer for the new Carlton Fire District for 15 years. Mark Gould, our lead vineyard manager, has been serving as a Carlton volunteer fire fighter for years. In fact, Aaron, our Winery Ambassador Ivory’s husband, is still in Southern Oregon near the California border battling the Slater fire. Our thoughts are with the firefighters and first responders who continue to serve and protect.

The recent fires have spurred industry concern over smoke taint. With rumors swirling in the Willamette Valley, literally like smoke, it is very important to get the facts out. Smoke taint occurs in grapes when a vineyard is in near proximity to a fire or directly downwind from an active fire. The volatiles that create issues are ephemeral, over a fairly short period of time they break down. Which is why we are not concerned about “old smoke”.

It is a common occurrence in Oregon in the fall for there to be an east wind.  Which is the opposite of the onshore flow that we normally experience throughout the year. When there are fires in the dry high desert of eastern Oregon, those east winds can bring smoke to the Willamette Valley. We have experienced this numerous times before. In a number of years, we have had smoke cover in the Valley for as long as 10 days. In none of these occasions have we had a wine that had an issue with smoke taint. We credit the lack of affectation to the fact that this is “old smoke” from quite a distance away.

As of today, we have tasted all of the fruit from every site that we farm or source from in the valley, 13 in total. We have yet to see affectation to this point of any kind. It is true that we have had a couple of regional fires, one near Hagg Lake in Washington County and one on the north side of the Chehalem Mountains. These fires were contained very quickly. A vineyard neighboring these fires would have a realistic cause for concern. Vineyards that are miles away should not be concerned.

Over the last week, emotions seem to be driving decisions more than science regarding smoke taint with some of our industry members. They are reacting in fear instead of with critical judgement. Perhaps with the combination of the pandemic and the smoke, it is causing knee-jerk reactions. Scientific testing of smoke taint in a laboratory looks for free guaiacols (smoke markers). There are no laboratory tests that have been done that show we have an issue regionally.

Critics agree that 2017 produced a lush and remarkable vintage from the Willamette Valley. In that year, we experienced 10 straight days of smoke from the eastern and northern fires, much longer than we have experienced this year.

Do not be faint of heart, we are going to make great wine this year.

Photos of Ken Wright & Seth Miller Sampling at Hirschy Vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA

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¡Salud! 2020 Pinot Noir Auction


Posted on September 30, 2020 in Charitable Giving, Videos
We are honored to be a part of this year’s ¡Salud! The Pinot Noir Auction, which raises funds to provide critical healthcare services and outreach to Oregon vineyard workers and their families. As a part of the 2020 Vintners Circle, we have crafted a 2019 ¡Salud! Cuvée, a special barrel selection of Pinot noir from Bryce Vineyard. Hear directly from Ken about this bottling in our video below!

In addition to our ¡Salud! Cuvée, we are also offering a Wine Country Getaway, including a luxurious 2-night stay in the heart of Oregon wine country at the Winery Lofts. In addition to your stay, you will experience a private vineyard tour and wine tasting with Ken Wright and a magnum of 2014 Freedom Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir!
 
Online bidding for these once-in-a-lifetime offerings will be open November 9-16. RSVP to receive complimentary bidder registration for both bidding events, open to all: https://tualityhealth.ejoinme.org/SaludRSVP

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In Oregon’s Willamette Valley, Elegant Pinot Noir for Less than $40


Posted on September 10, 2020 in Press

October 2020 Issue | Wine Enthusiast | Page 16
Click here to shop our Willamette Valley Pinot Noir


BY PAUL GREGUTT

Thin-skinned, petulant Pinot Noir is difficult to ripen and demands a gentle hand in the winery. Worse still, too many of its simple expressions fail to deliver on the promise of a grape whose impact has been described as the iron fist in a velvet glove.

When grown in the right place, under the right circumstances, however, the variety really delivers on its reputation for elegance, complexity and subtlety. The best examples are aromatic with notes of roses, berries and cherries, and offer balanced flavors of fruit, earth, herb and barrel, with ample natural acidity.

Oregon’s Willamette Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA) is widely acknowledged as the next best place after Burgundy, where Pinot has thrived for centuries, to explore its vast potential. First planted there by Eyrie Vineyards founder David Lett in the mid-1960s, the area is now the foundation for the state’s growing reputation.

After decades of experimentation, the valley today includes seven sub-AVAs. Each produces a distinct style of Pinot, based on differences in soil, elevation, aspect, farming and winemaker choices.

Good Burgundy is notoriously expensive, and in comparison, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir may be considered a bargain. That said, wines priced under $20, as well as those labeled plainly as Oregon Pinot Noir, rarely provide a thrill. Selections from specific appellations or subappellations priced under $40 would be a good starting point for exploration.

Six to Sip

Drouhin Oregon Roserock Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills; $35, 92 points. Anchored in a fast-rising AVA known to put an earthy subtext to ripe purple and black fruits, this has plenty of polish and power. Editor’s choice.

Ken Wright Pinot Noir Willamette Valley; $22, 91 points. This complex, layered wine is a fantastic bargain, aromatic and beautifully structured with raspberry and spicy plum fruit. Editor’s choice.

Lenné Estate LeNez Pinot Noir Yamhill-Carlton; $35, 90 points. Estate-grown fruit was gently aged in 10% new French oak, yielding near-term drinkability and medium ageability. Editor’s choice.

Pike Road Xander Taryn Vineyard Pinot Noir Chehalem Mountains; $35, 89 points. Fresh blackberry fruit meets wet rock minerality in this single-vineyard offering.

Stoller Pinot Noir Dundee Hills; $35, 89 points. From the heart of Pinot country, this wraps red and black berries with peppery herbs in a light, earthy finish.

Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Pinot Noir Willamette Valley; $24, 91 points. Young, bright and delicious, this fruit-driven wine mixes fresh plum and cherry with just a hint of milk chocolate. Editor’s choice.

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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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Bud Break 2020


Posted on June 18, 2020 in Videos

Join Ken in McCrone Vineyard as he discusses bud break 2020, the official launch to this year’s growing season.

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