Somewhere between Playboy and Donnie Darko lies Scott Paul Wines. The latest reincarnation of the rabbit as a marketing tool has its origins on the wall of the sleek Scott Paul Wines tasting room in rustic downtown Carlton, OR. A large painting of a rabbit welcomes you on the far wall as you enter the room, and in a way it welcomed owner Scott Wright into the world of winemaking.
After becoming disillusioned with the corporate direction of his career in entertainment and radio, Scott fell mysteriously ill for several weeks, with the only cure coming in the form of a career change, in part prompted by the abstract rabbit who was, per the title, “a rabbit receiving his own information”.
That was about a decade ago, though Scott can trace his first true inspiration in wine back to his childhood in Chicago when his father, an appreciator of fine food and wine, served him a 1959 La Tache in 1969. He remembers the wine in detail to this day, and the influence of France’s Burgundy on his own winery is clear.
Maps of the legendary Grand Cru Vineyards line the walls, and in addition to producing his own wines, he imports Burgundy wines into the United States, spending 6-10 weeks a year in the region to keep current on the happenings.
Scott greets us into his tasting room, and his background in marketing has been put to use in his new life as a player in the Oregon wine industry. Sleek, futurist furnishings are sparsely situated in the tasting room, with soft colors and crisp angles accenting the architecture.
The building housing the tasting room was completely remodeled, and the bricks covering the building no longer serve any structural purpose. The ceiling is made out of recycled grain elevator sheet metal, and the floor a cold, industrial concrete.
Scott has prepared three wines for us to taste: two vintages of his La Paulee Pinot Noir and the latest offering of his budget-minded Cuvee Martha Pirrie. The simplicity of the Cuvee Martha Pirrie showed better in the tasting, but the Le Paulee bottlings were at a bit of a disadvantage as they are meant to be aged.
The style of wine is one that I have become intimately familiar with in my short time in the Willamette, showcasing the Terroir through the transparent Pinot Noir grape without letting oak get in the way.
Scott reserves his ultimate respect for those wine producers that can make outstanding wines in vintages where mother nature is less than kind, and he rattles off a list of producers in both Oregon and Burgundy that have achieved this distinction.
I’m a little concerned as the nose seems a little “grapey”, but these concerns are laid to rest as the wine explodes with complexity and a mix of dark and red fruit on the palate. Scott blushes as I narrate my tasting experience, and it is obvious that these are traits that he tries to achieve in his wine. The wines will definitely benefit from some tertiary bottle development, but are ready to be enjoyed now.
Scott embraces the advent of the Stelvin Screwcap Enclosure, and recalls that while it was a bold move to make the switch from cork back in 2004, he’s never looked back. The fact that he can be confident that none of his wine is affected by the devilish TCA cork taint makes the change worth it.
After my afternoon at Scott Paul Wines, I would warn Playboy and Donnie Darko that another rabbit is on the scene, and this rabbit is definitely worth checking out.