2015 Ken Wright, Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir, $58
Winery Info: Ken Wright founded his eponymous winery in 1994 in Carlton, Oregon and since then has become one of Oregon’s most respected winemakers. He is passionate about showcasing the influence of the distinct sites he uses in each of his single-vineyard wines, and he believes that Pinot Noir is one of the best grapes to convey the character of the soil in which it is grown. In a feature article on Ken in 2014, the Wine Spectator called him the “Master of Pinot Noir in Oregon.”
Winemaker: Ken Wright
Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir. Aged 10 months in new and used French oak barrels.
Vineyard source: From three blocks (predominantly Block 7) in Shea Vineyard, in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. It is mostly ancient marine sedimentary Willakenzie soil. Thanks to his early commitment to Shea Vineyard fruit, Ken continues to get his choice of fruit from the site.
Flavor profile: Plush and concentrated, with pretty floral notes and flavors of dark cherry and black currant and a touch of savory earth. It has gorgeous texture and mouth feel.
Production/Availability: About 850 cases. There is still more available.
Drinkability: The warm 2015 growing season produced lush wines that are immediately approachable, although this one will age nicely through 2024.
Food Pairing: Grilled fish, savory stews, mushroom stroganoff, or roasted root vegetables.
2015 Evesham Wood, Illahe Vineyard Pinot Noir, $29.75
Winery Info: Founded by Russ and Mary Raney in 1986. After 24 years they retired and turned the winery over to Erin Nuccio with whom they had worked for many vintages. It was a seamless transition as Erin and Russ share the same winemaking and vine-tending philosophy, heavily influenced and mentored from the beginning by the legendary Burgundian winemakers, Henri Jayer and Michel Niellon.
Winemaker: Erin Nuccio
Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir
Vineyard source: Illahe Vineyard, planted in 2001. Today it has about 50 acres of Pinot Noir. It is a warm site on a south-facing slope with a variety of soils, mostly Willakenzie sedimentary clay and loam. For this wine they selected eight barrels of their Illahe fruit to age for an additional year in their cellar.
Flavor profile: Smooth and textured, with characteristic red and black fruit aromas and savory notes of herbs and spice. Its soft ripe richness is nicely balanced by gentle tannins.
Production/Availability: 200 cases. There is still some available.
Drinkability: Though enjoyable now, try to lay it down for a year or two, up to about ten years.
Food Pairing: Great for duck, lamb, game birds, or salmon with beurre rouge and mushrooms.