Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Ken Wright Cellars 2011 Abbott Claim Vineyard, Yamhill-Carlton

Sometimes the crowds are just plain wrong. We disregarded the so-called experts and discovered a gem of a Pinot Noir.

Prized Pinot Noir

I was jazzed when I bought this 2011 bottle of Ken Wright Cellars Abbott Claim Vineyard Pinot Noir. Ken Wright is an icon in Willamette Valley winemaking and is a Prince of Pinot if there is such a thing.

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Fine quality Pinot is better with a bit of age, so it remained in the cellar for a few years. Meanwhile, I decided to check what the critics were saying about this bottle.

Cellar Tracker, which is a great online wine community and the program I use to organize my wine cellar, is a good source for honest reviews. I was crestfallen as I read them.

The negative reviews called the wine undrinkable and just plain bad. Some of the reviewers even gave the wine a rating of 50 on the 100-point scale!

Time For The Big Reveal

Giving in to the depressing commentary, I didn’t rush to drink the wine. Finally, about a week ago, it was time to “fish or cut bait.” Holding on to the wine probably wasn’t going to improve it and its quality would soon descend from the top of the rollercoaster and rush downhill rapidly.

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I put a light chill on the bottle for dinner outside on the patio. Back-up bottles were already in mind in case Ken Wright went down in flames. The Green Dragon whipped up some stuffed pork chops and I fixed some rustic potatoes on the grill. The moment of truth had arrived.

We poured the Pinot and the first impression was the color – a deep brick red. Definitely showing signs of age. Hmmm.

I crinkled my nose and took the first sip, prepared for the awfulness that had been described online. Wait just a minute. This wine wasn’t terrible. In fact, this wine was… tremendous.

The Abbott Claim has vibrant acidity and raspberry cola flavor. The added bottle age has delivered complexity and intrigue. It is one of the best bottles of Pinot Noir we’ve had in some time.

I can only assume that the other bottles were spoiled, or that when the bulk of the bummer reviewers were written in 2015 the wine was going through a “dumb” period. Wines, as we learned in the Bottle Shock movie can sometimes start vibrant, go into a less flavorful stage, and then get an upswing in quality as the aging continues.

Critiques should be taken with a grain of salt. The true judge of a wine’s quality should be your own palate.

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