Otis Kenyon 2007 Matchless Red, Walla Walla
May 10, 2011 by Erin Thomas
*Bottle #110: Otis Kenyon 2007 Matchless Red, Walla Walla
*Price Tag: $22
*Running Tab: $1,400
James Otis Kenyon was a bona fide bad ass.
Rumored to be the profession with the highest suicide rate, James was a struggling dentist and couldn’t take it any longer when a new practice popped up in his small town of Milton-Freewater, OR. He snapped. Instead of taking it out on himself, James took his competition down. Literally – with a fire that took the building to the ground.
Judgment from the townsfolk and banishment by his wife led James to a disappearance that lasted nearly 50 years and took his family to Walla Walla. James was a mystery and presumed dead to his sons and grandchildren until his grandson, Steve, was able to locate him on the Oregon coast and reunite the family. Passing on at the ripe age of 101, James was able to see his family relationships replenish and establish a valid redemption, leaving a positive legacy in his name.
The motive for James’ actions are still unknown, however, Steve deemed his grandfather enough of a rebel hero to slap his silhouette on his label for Otis Kenyon Wines.Founded in 2004 after James’ death, Steve and his wife, Deborah, launched their small, family-oriented operation, which still produces 2,500 cases per year. Otis Kenyon specializes in sustainable and bio-diverse viticultural practices and the production of structured yet affordable Bordeaux and Rhone varieties, with the aid of winemaker Dave Stephenson of Stephenson Cellars.
With a tongue-in-cheek sensibility in the title as well as the fire singes along the label, the 2007 Matchless Red is 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. Although the majority of Otis Kenyon’s single varietal wines come from their 10-acre estate vineyard, Stellar, they were able to source fruit from Seven Hills Vineyard and Lodmell Vineyard, both in Walla Walla.
Dark berry fruits of blackberry, mulberry and cherry come out up front on the nose, with scents of vanilla, pepper and cedar lightly dust the tail end. The palate has substantial structure and elegance, although the red fruit and bright acidity gives the wine an immediate drinkability.
Balanced and smooth, this wine would surprisingly kill with a dish covered in red sauce given its acidity and could stand against the redder of meats.
A rebel in his own right, Steve took a chance on his grandfather’s story and succeeded in branding one of the more intriguing wine tales in the state. Hoping he leaves the matches at home and plays nice with his competition, Steve has masterfully taken on the “table wine” genre and price point with ease, elevating his blend amongst the pack.