Ken Wright Cellars Pinot Blanc 2008
Over 40 years of wine making has taught Ken a simple truth: source is everything. Located, in rural Carlton, Oregon, Ken Wright Cellars is devoted to producing wine that showcase the inherent quality of world class vineyard sites. With a clarity and breadth that is unequaled, Pinot noir is the ultimate vehicle for conveying the aroma, flavor and texture of the location in which it is grown.
In 1986, with family, belongings and 10 barrels in tow, Ken moved to McMinnville and started Panther Creek Cellars. His concept of focusing on vineyard-designate bottling began during those years at Panther Creek and this was cemented as a core philosophy in 1994 when Ken Wright Cellars was founded. Ken Wright Cellars now produces a single vineyard Pinot Noir from 13 different vineyard sites in the Northern Willamette Valley.
Their approach to the craft of wine growing is one of stewardship rather than manipulation. We use organic certified practices as a base and expand upon that with advanced nutrition-based farming. By analyzing both their soil profile and vines, maintaining proper crop levels, personally sampling each vineyard, and hand-sorting each cluster, we ensure that the inherent character in the fruit is revealed in the finished wine. Minimal handling of wine is essential to preserve what it is; a gift of nature.
One of Pinot Noir’s most successful New World outposts, the Willamette Valley is the largest and most important AVA in Oregon. With a continental climate moderated by the influence of the Pacific Ocean, it is perfect for cool-climate viticulture and the production of elegant wines.
Mountain ranges bordering three sides of the valley, particularly the Chehalem Mountains, provide the option for higher-elevation vineyard sites.
The valley's three prominent soil types (volcanic, sedimentary and silty, loess) make it unique and create significant differences in wine styles among its vineyards and sub-AVAs. The iron-rich, basalt-based, Jory volcanic soils found commonly in the Dundee Hills are rich in clay and hold water well; the chalky, sedimentary soils of Ribbon Ridge, Yamhill-Carlton and McMinnville encourage complex root systems as vines struggle to search for water and minerals. In the most southern stretch of the Willamette, the Eola-Amity Hills sub-AVA soils are mixed, shallow and well-drained. The Hills' close proximity to the Van Duzer Corridor (which became its own appellation as of 2019) also creates grapes with great concentration and firm acidity, leading to wines that perfectly express both power and grace.
Though Pinot noir enjoys the limelight here, Pinot gris, Pinot blanc and Chardonnay also thrive in the Willamette. Increasing curiosity has risen recently in the potential of others like Grüner Veltliner, Chenin blanc and Gamay.
Approachable, aromatic and pleasantly plush on the palate, Pinot Blanc is a white grape variety most associated with the Alsace region of France. Although its heritage is Burgundian, today it is rarely found there and instead thrives throughout central Europe, namely Germany and Austria, where it is known as Weissburgunder and Alto Adige where it is called Pinot Bianco. Interestingly, Pinot Blanc was born out of a mutation of the pink-skinned Pinot Gris. Somm Secret—Chardonnay fans looking to try something new would benefit from giving Pinot Blanc a try.