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More Ken Wright Pinot Noir and Ruminations on The Bootleg (Tasting on Shuffle Pt. 2)

June 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Believing that a Ken Wright Pinot Noir Savoya Vineyard ’06 would stand up to a cheese plate, a .375L bottle was opened, decanted, and allowed to breathe. Wright bottles 10 distinctly different single vineyard Pinot Noirs and, as of the ’09 vintage, one regional blend under his eponymous label. Even after a short breath the ’06 Savoya seems much more mature and integrated than a recent ’05 of the same make and model, though splits do tend to age faster. The nose is still largely muted and not the sonorous experience that was the ’97 Carter, but the initial waft is a somewhat hollow richness that promises great things.

A bite-sized split bottle next to a .750L.

That great Beatles recording from 1966 got me thinking about the lost preciousness of The Bootleg. There was a time when one could only acquire a rare live recording from a shop like Revolver Records (R.I.P.) on W. 8th St. or from another music nerd who, for the cost of a Maxell XLII blank tape (later CD) and shipping, would make and post you a physical copy, and it wasn’t that long ago. Or at least it wasn’t that long ago before we began staring directly down the barrel of the Singularity. The speed and quantity of information afforded to anyone with a decent wireless signal at this point is astonishing and it has rendered the term “rare recording” comically obsolete. Even if there’s only one, it’s out there.

But back to Ken Wright Pinot Noir Savoya Vineyard 2006. It shows damp earth, without a hint of swampiness, and black raspberry. This wine needs another couple of years in the bottle to properly develop (and will live for another decade), but the acidity is mouth-watering and the back end spice smacks pleasurably of pink peppercorn. After a couple of hours in the decanter soft vanillin and subtle trace minerals become apparent. The ’06 Ken Wright Pinot Noir Savoya is quite beautiful and largely integrated, though so many flavors and aromatics are yet to emerge.

Ken Wright Pinot Noir and the Beatles at Budokan ‘66 (Tasting on Shuffle Pt. 1)

June 29, 2011 Leave a comment

Over a selection of tasty cheeses, meats, olives, and accoutrement from the Bedford Cheese shop, including an irresistible bliss in the form of a triple crème called Pierre Robert (thanks Chef Jacqueline!), a series of well aged wines were tasted. During this luxurious palate exercise the mp3 library played of a many generations old imac that still lives, by some act of G(Steve Jobs)D, functioning solely as a jukebox of randomness and a DVD player. Notes on the wine and music consumed begin now:

2 Generations of label ago.

Ken Wright Pinot Noir Carter Vineyard 1997 is deep, but softening garnet. Just as a touch of purple seems to appear in the center, the nose emerges and the olfactory overtakes the thinking mechanism. Is this a high pedigree Gevrey Chambertin? The most successful expressions of Oregon grapes, such as this one, taste like their own corner of that land in a way that the finest Frenchman with the finest palate for Burgundy will never understand.

And it never ceases to amaze me what one can acquire in a few Google searches and a few minutes of time, as the Beatles live at Budokan ‘66, rises from the speakers, pre-pubecent screams first. It’s unbelievable to be able to hear the greatest band of all time at such a formative formative stage, audio problems, vocal slips, and all. The shrieking really is intense though, almost deafening at times and indesciminant. My mom was a huge Beatles fan as a kid and saw the them a couple of times. She loved the music, but didn’t understand the screaming, and was disappointed at how little she could hear of the music over the spastic shrill din. Perhaps this is why I’ve always taken such joy when Mike Doughty or Jeff Tweedy berates an audience that pays the ticket price to aggressively not listen. There really should be a constitutional amendment banning the yelling of ‘Freebird’ in all music venues across this great land.

The ’97 Ken Wright pinot Noir Carter Vineyard continues to waft singular moments of the Pacific Northwest into the room. The nose is huge and the palate deep: wet earth, damp embers, and a little sea air, on a thick humid morning. In the glass, there’s smoke, soft earth, and tobacco. It’s subtly floral (violets?), fresh herbs, terragon, fennel fronds, and there’s something ¾ of the way down the road to eucalyptus. The wine has a very long finish, for an American Pinot Noir if its age, and the empty glass continues to echo that glorious nose. I have never met a Carter Vineyard Pinot Noir I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed, and this one ranks high up in greater pantheon of American wine.