May 07, 2009

1997 Ken Wright Cellars Pinot Noir Carter Vineyard

I'm always on the look out for wines from 1997 because it's the year my wife and I married. In Oregon's northern Willamette Valley, 1997 was the third rainy harvest in a row, and the rainest harvest in the decade leading up to the wet October of 2007. Farming techniques and cellar practices have advanced in the last decade, and I've heard recently from few local winemakers that 2007 would have been another 1997 if not for those changes. Meaning, 1997 was a tough harvest.

Still, I like trying local wines from my wedding year. And while today isn't my wedding anniversary, it does mark 15 years since my wife and I went on our first date, and 13 years since our engagement. So, tonight we pull out the good stuff...well, sentimental stuff. It doesn't always have to be fancy to be special. There isn't anything in the cellar queue from 1994, so the wedding year it is.

If you look online for notes about the 1997 Ken Wright Cellar Pinot Noir Carter Vineyard, what little you'll find suggests the wine is dead. Well, that depends on your perspective. Ken tends to produce pretty large scaled, rich wines. This isn't that, and I don't imagine it ever was. If you're looking for dark and purple, this wine probably is dead to you. I like it.

The color is bricking, the aroma delicate with floral and red fruit notes with light oak spice, mature with some ea / nail polish notes, nothing egregious. This wine is cracking, but like the surface of an old painting still very much alive. If you like mature wine, this is good though not great.

The wine is gently flavored and light bodied, soft at entry with stronger acid in the middle and finish. The tannin is resolved, the texture smooth and supple. There's some dilution from the rainy harvest, but the quiet autumnal flavors echo nicely. It paired nicely with lentils, roasted red peppers and feta with basmati rice.

Perhaps it's a nice metaphor for our maturing relationship, changed from youth, still very much alive, hopefully in better shape than the wine but certainly not the same as it was. As it should be.

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