Ken Wright Virgins No More!


Once we left Tyrus Evan, we headed across the street to Ken Wright, which is also in Carlton. Ken Wright is only open Memorial Day and Thanksgiving Day weekend, because they sell most of their wine as futures. We hadn’t been to Ken Wright before, and we had never even had Ken Wright wines. Ken Wright was a favorite of Jon’s grandfather, who lived in McMinnville. He had been buying futures of Ken Wright for several years, and gave us a bottle of the wine, which we have been keeping for a special occasion. When he passed away, we received another bottle.

Ken Wright specializes in single vineyard Pinot Noir. He has ten vineyards, and each is aged, bottled and sold separately. We started our tasting with a Pinot Blanc. It was delicious, with a soft, unoaked, creamy butter taste. Jon and I both really like it, as it was a compromise between the light crisp wines that I like and the heavily oaked, buttery white wines that Jon prefers. Their Chardonnay was excellent as well, a soft butter without the too heavy oak of so many Chardonnays. After we left, Jon regretted not buying a bottle of the Chardonnay. After the whites, we moved into the barrel tasting of some of the 2010 single vineyard Pinot Noirs.  Carter, the first one we tried, was very good. It already had a very nice structure with the tart cherry flavor of a good Pinot.  I can certainly see why the futures sell out. The second we tried, from Canary Hill Vineyard was my least favorite – it has a very light mouthfeel, and just didn’t have the structure of the other two. We finished off our barrel tasting with the Guadalupe vineyard, which was everything a Pinot Noir should be. I will want this wine when I can afford to buy the half case of futures.  What we found with the Ken Wright barrel tastings is that you can really appreciate the flavor that the soil and the differences at each vineyard really impart into the wine.

The tasting ended with a truly spectacular surprise.  2009 was a bumper crop in the Willamette Valley, with a hot summer that produced a lot of fruit in the vineyards. Ken Wright had no much extra fruit that they did what they rarely do. He took leftover grapes from 9 of his vineyards and produced a Pinot Noir that is affordable and delicious. We really enjoyed the blend, and I hope that they will do it again. From what I’m hearing, 2010 was a much tougher year, and 2011 is shaping up so far to be miserable, so it might be a couple of years before we get this wine again. The good news is that while we are waiting, there are always other wines to try. And other reviews to write…

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