Thursday, June 11, 2020

A Tale Of Two Pinot Noirs

Ken Wright Cellars and Youngberg Hill Pinot Noir

Social distancing can’t keep friends and two great Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs apart!

The Pinot Porch

I got the message in the afternoon. My friend Arthur wanted share a couple of glasses of wine. I quickly asked for clarification, “Is this a spouse thing?’ No, it was just for the “boyz.”

Keep up with the latest. Follow us on Instagram!

When I learned that Arthur was going to open a split of 2014 Ken Wright Cellars Carter Vineyard Pinot Noir, I was off in a flash. I grabbed my car keys and a bottle of one of my favorite Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs, the 2015 Youngberg Hill Jordan Pinot Noir.

I first made the acquaintance of Arthur at the North Carolina Wine Bloggers Summit. I noticed he was carrying a wine with a label stating it was made in Holly Springs, just a few minutes from my house. Later I learned that he made the wine himself.

Arthur’s wines are good – but they weren’t on the menu for our wine tasting pop-up party. No indeed.

Cradle Of Wine Excellence

Our favorite Pinot Noir region in the US is Willamette Valley, Oregon. The terroir parallels Burgundy, making it ideal for Pinot Noir and, as Oregon winemakers are discovering, Chardonnay. Pronounced “Willamette” like “dammit,” the area produces Pinot Noir that is simply sublime.

Never Miss A Beat – Follow Vino-Sphere On Facebook

It used to be that when friends wanted to open a bottle, all that was required was the wine and a couple of glasses. The COVID 19 pandemic has certainly made life complicated. Now you have to consider the correct “social distancing” spacing of the seating and hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes are sprinkled around like party favors.

Arthur has a nice setup for this sort of thing, a screened-in room on the patio. It offers fresh air and a great view of the woods. Oh, yes. It also has dangling plastic snakes. According to Arthur, these are to scare off birds that may fly in when the screens are opened.

To reach the Pinot Noir perch, I had to climb a flight of wooden stairs, which are roughly the same height as Mount Mitchell – the highest peak in North Carolina. That’s OK. Nothing was stopping me from reaching the top of this mountain.

1070311Straight From The Cellar

I’ve had several Pinot Noirs from Ken Wright Cellars over the years. Coincidently, the very first Ken Wright Pinot I had was the 2006 vintage of the Carter Vineyard bottling. The Carter Vineyard is located in the Eola Hills and its soil is mostly formed from weathered rock.

Wine from this particular vineyard has become so prized that it is sold in 375ML bottles in addition to the full-sized 750ML. Arthur got his hands on a split of the 2014 vintage.

Pandemic or not, you can always count on Arthur to put out a nice spread. We each had a plate of spicy pistachios, raisins and crystalized pineapple, various spreadable and hard cheeses and crackers. We were ready to go.

The Carter Vineyard Pinot Noir is filled with warming spice notes, flowing raspberry and an elegant texture. This is a wine with a finish that won’t finish. There is bubbling blueberries and an acidity that keeps the wine nimble. Sensational!

Another nice feature of the split is that it never seemed to run out of wine! Based on the typical five glasses per 750ML bottle, there should be two-and-a-half glasses in a split. Just when I thought Arthur had run out, he poured just a little bit more from the bottle.


A Perfect Balance

We were now ready to move to full-sized enjoyment with the 2015 Youngberg Hill Jordan Pinot Noir. I was pleased to originally taste this Jordan Pinot with Wayne Bailey, owner of Youngberg Hill, during a recent visit. Wayne has named his wines after his children. Apparently his daughter Jordan has perfectly balanced tannins and acidity!

The Jordan Block sits on a four-acre site on the Youngberg Hill estate. The high sloping location means more benefit from the daily coastal breezes.

The Jordan got poured into a decanter to let it properly decant while Arthur and I chatted about people and wine projects. This has a darker profile than the Ken Wright Carter Vineyard. This is considered the Premier Cru of Youngberg Hill. The wine has earth and spice with elegant notes of cherry. There is a savory element to this wine, which could still evolve in the bottle for a couple more years.

This is what you call riding out the pandemic in style!

No comments: