Tag Archive | Ken Wright Cellars

2005 Ken Wright Cellars: Carter Vineyard Pinot Noir

Jon and I were planning to open this bottle on New Year’s Eve, but instead I was down for the count with a bad cold.  So we waited until this weekend, and uncorked the bottle.

We got this wine from Jon’s grandfather’s cellar after he passed away.  Each of his grandchildren were invited to choose a few bottles, and this was one of the bottles that Jon selected.  We have been waiting for a good time to open this one, and Jon has been watching the internet reviews on when the best time would be.  And what better time than to ring in a New Year!?  Even if it was delayed a few days so I could actually taste the wine.

2005 Ken Wright Cellars Carter Vineyard Pinot Noir

2005 Ken Wright Cellars Carter Vineyard Pinot Noir

We opened the bottle in the early afternoon, before heading out for a little trip to Nooksack Falls.  We wanted to give it a few hours to breathe.  We came home after giving it some time, and tried it for the first time.  The color of this wine was not your typical Pinot Noir; it was a darker brownish red that was much more like a mature Cabernet Sauvignon.  On the nose, I picked up ripe blackberries, smoke and a little bit of cola.

On the palate, this wine is fantastic.  It is a wonderfully balanced wine, with the flavors blending together.  There is not as much acidity as I would expect in a Pinot Noir (which makes sense since this is a 2005), and the tartness is almost non-existent.  It also doesn’t have the dominant cherry flavors that are so common with Pinot Noir.  Instead the flavors are muted blackberries, earth, and a hint of that same cola that it had on the nose.

Overall, a great wine – we paired it with a Gouda Pesto Chicken, which was delicious, and a big enough meal to have with this heavier Pinot.  Too bad we don’t have more!

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…