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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Oregon Uncorked: Ken Wright 2008 Savoya Pinot Noir

  “I like stepping into the future, therefore, I look for doorknobs.”~ Unknown

As many of you know I spent four fantastic days last December exploring Oregon Wine Country. Most of those travels took me really no further than an hour to hour an half depending on traffic away from downtown Portland. It would seem that our trip occurred during the very last of the fall weather, as it began to snow at Youngberg Hill the very next day after we left.

While many folks will normally associate Oregon with ‘rain’ and boy did we see plenty of it while we were there; but in reality it only qualified as drizzle for most part. Oregon is about far more than rainy damp weather, there's a whole other-side just waiting to be explored. But it did seem like we brought some of that cold wet-weather back with us [Mrs. Cuvee and I] to San Diego, needed yes, but unexpected none-the-less. In fact the rainy wet-stuff here just cleared away, leaving us with crisp, clear blue-skies [I know you’re jealous].

Second if you ask most vino-sapiens what Oregon is well known for, they would most ultimately say Pinot Noir. What you may not know is that Oregon also has a vast, growing foodie-culture, there’s a food revolution sprouting up everywhere, collectively putting them on the gastronomical globe. A fact to which I could easily attest to, coming home a few pounds heavier, than when I left.

If bourbon or beer is your thing, you’re in luck because there are numerous distilleries and breweries [really too many to count] located in the environs of downtown Portland, situated just minutes away from their well organized airport.

But for the vino-sapiens in the audience, Oregon is known for its rich wine-making tradition. But what many folks may not realize is that no-one really started making wine until the 19th century, when cherries, apples and pears were the mainstay. Then keeping with Oregon’s pioneering spirit in the early 20th century, the modern wine-making industry we know today, sprang to life around the grape we all know and love, Pinot Noir.

One of the places I didn’t get to visit the last time I was in Oregon; is Ken Wright Cellars in downtown Carlton. Their tasting room is located in an old train-depot; the winery itself is located about a block away. Mr. Wright previously only offered visits by appointment only and purchasing of his wine was done through a futures program.

And now if you’d like to purchase any of his current release outside of the 2010 KWC PN Willamette Valley, it will have to be done by the six-pack.  And no it can’t be a mixed half-case either; you’ll need to show some commitment to your favorite wine in the tasting or go home empty handed. Now you can find single bottles of Ken Wright Cellars PN in a few retail stores, but you may not find the one you recently sampled. You can also easily find his wines online at the Oregon Wine Merchants, where they can be purchased in singles, mix and match, coupled with a reasonable shipping charge.

But unfortunately you can’t taste them first; you’ll just have to take your chances. I tasted through four of his Pinot’s and ended up favoring the 2008 Savoya Yamhill-Carlton AVA, which is now sold out. I also tasted the 2008 Carter, Canary Hill and the 2009 Guadalupe, which were good, but not $60 a bottle good in my estimation. Be sure to sample their relatively new Tyrus Evan label [seen above], there's a 2007 Ciel Du Cheval Claret [$35], not to be missed.

The 08 Savoya offered up power, grace and elegance. A substantial wine, red cherry and baking spice dominate, while dried herbs and forest floor flavors play in the background. Fine grained tannins are well integrated and wrap this wine up in a pretty bow, suitable for gift giving or for spoiling yourself.  This wine sold for $65 in the tasting room and new vintages can be found online for $48. I scored the wine I ended up taking home, 93 points, it’s pretty amazing juice really. Until next time folks, continue to sip long and prosper cheers!
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