Ken Wright, a Pinot Noir pioneer, is now a bona fide cover boy, too. A recent feature story in Wine Spectator highlights his reign as the “master of Pinot Noir in Oregon.” Add that to a long list of monikers, along with “Terroirist” and “Pinot Whisperer.”
Wright has been making waves in the Willamette Valley for over 30 years. After his long tenure at Panther Creek Cellars, an Oregon Pinot Noir specialist, he carved out his own niche in 1994 when he left to found his own winery, Ken Wright Cellars, in Carlton.
Wright currently produces twelve single-vineyard Pinot Noirs, and with his in-depth knowledge of the region, he’s also an activist in educating others about Oregon terroir and the diversity of its smaller microclimates.
Although critics initially panned the cool 2007 Oregon vintage, it has since become a Pinotphile’s darling, particularly as it ages. Framed by two uncharacteristically hot vintages, Wright’s 2007 is a clear example of how cooler vintages and the resulting higher acidity can allow a wine to age gracefully and delicately.
This wine shows true Ken Wright style, and is still revealing dehydrated strawberries, dried orange peel, green peppercorn, and dried herbs, which float over cherries jubilee and a note like a savory forest carpeted with wild mushrooms and cedar bark.
The wine also exhibits clear vineyard typicity of Shea Vineyard—that “Shea-ness” is often expressed through dark red fruit, rose petals, cedar bark, and black cherries, all of which are present in this wine. After several hours, the Pinot opens up to dark cherry, fennel seed, and dried fig, as well as those dark red and black berry influences, with an ether of campfire smoke at the ending. The 2007 would be a wonderful pairing with trout or salmon, as well as tea-smoked duck.
It’s a gorgeous example of how this vintage is surprisingly one for the ages. And finished under the Nomacorc Classic+ closure, the ageability of this wine is also proof that modern synthetics likewise have staying power.