Oregon Uncorked: Ken Wright 2008 Savoya Pinot Noir

Many of those who have gone before have stated, "that it takes a lot of money, to make a little money in the wine business." The road to 'profitability' is an important consideration, as this not a venture for the weak of heart.  

I not-so-recently spent four fantastic days exploring Oregon Wine Country. To say, it was more than a few years ago, would be completely accurate. While this trip was a distant memory, from a many of trip gone by; this article, represents a good opportunity to catch up with Mr. Wright once more. I love meeting and talking with winemakers, the movers, and shakers of the wine-world. They always have some of the most compelling tales to tell, but not all of them want to share those thoughts or stories with just anyone. But being in the public eye as they're, it is somewhat expected, so some spill-it-all while others keep some of the information a bit closer the vest.

Sadly, on this trip, I didn't have an opportunity to interview him personally. But I did get an opportunity to belly-up to the wine bar with other wine enthusiasts and discovered a divergent style of wines, most, of course, being Pinot Noir.

Most of those travels took me really no further than an hour to an 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 (Winery and B&B) the very next day after we left.

While many folks will normally associate Oregon with ‘rain’(because that's what it does here) and boy did we see plenty of it while we were there; but in reality, it only qualified as a drizzle for the most part. Oregon is about far more than rainy, damp weather, there's a whole other-side just waiting to be explored.

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 readily 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 mainstays. 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 purchase 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.

Their 08 Savoya (my favorite from the tasting lineup) 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 fantastic juice really. Until next time folks, continue to sip long and prosper cheers!


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