2013KenWrightCarter2013 Ken Wright, Pinot Noir, Carter Vineyard, Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
Coming after the blockbuster 2012 vintage, a year that Ken Wright himself says might be the best ever vintage in his winemaking career there in Oregon, it was going to be a tough act to follow, especially in areas of the Willamette that got pounded by rain at harvest time, but somehow, these 2013 wines, particularly these new Ken Wright’s are showing surprising well, and this gorgeous Carter Vineyard 2013 is a stunning young Pinot Noir. Meeting up with Ken is always a treat and a learning experience, every time I come away knowing more, feeling excited about Oregon wines and tasting his single vineyard Pinot Noirs offers a great benchmark for the whole region in terms of class, quality and terroir. And this Fall was no exception, and while 2013 looks on paper to be difficult and a let down compared with 2012, it is a solid vintage and worth looking into for some stylish and rewarding wines, if you are careful, there are some fantastic offerings. This 2013 Carter Vineyard by Ken Wright is one to get, no question, and while it may not be the cellar star the 2012 looks to be, this is a fine and wonderful effort showing purity of fruit, detail and length, even young, and it has plenty of stuffing to intrigue and complexity to thrill most any palate. The Carter Vineyard in Eola-Amity Hills is planted mostly to Pommard clone on Nekia soils, it is always a signature wine of Ken Wright’s offerings and a benchmark Pinot, he chose about 40% new French oak, aged 10 months, and though hints of vanilla are found now, it has almost melted into the background, giving a luxurious and subtle framework. The wine is vital, vivid and has fresh nervy tension showing wilted roses, smoke, hints of graphite, currant, cranberry and cinnamon stick, leading to a mouth of blackberry, cherry and plum fruits with mineral essence, peppery spice, peach and strawberry, lavender, minty herbs and a hint of licorice, finishing with crisp tannins and lingering red fruits. This is lovely stuff, though it should gain with a bit more bottle age, best to hold short term, drink from 2016 to 2020.
($48 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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