2020 Cameron Winery, Friulano, Clos Electrique Vineyard, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
This is ultra serious stuff, one of the most exciting and pleasing white wines I’ve had this year, it is Cameron’s amphora fermented Friulano, part of their Italian inspired lineup from winemaker John Paul’s organic estate vines at his legendary Clos Electrique Vineyard in the Dundee Hills. This rare and complex offering is bursting with energy and mineral intensity, glowing gold and bright in the glass with a sublime play between vitality and texture. This Friulano was whole berry fermented in specially made terra-cotta for 50 days before being pressed to neutral French oak, where it aged a full 14 months, resulting in a fantastic stony white wine that reveals white peach, green apple, lemon zest and quince fruits along with loads of dry extract, almost tannin like and accented by saline infused wet rocks, spices, wild herbs and bitter almonds in a round textural wine that impresses the palate. Unlike some more funky orange wines, this wine is exceptional pure, translucent and rewarding with crystal clean details. Coming from holistic and dry farmed (non irrigated) vines in the Willamette Valley’s Dundee Hills AVA with all of Cameron’s grapes being grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fungicides, making the wine feel more natural and with the Jory (volcanic) soils adding complexity and a spicy element.
One of best kept secrets of Oregon, as I’ve mention here before, are Cameron Winery’s Northern Italian inspired dry whites, especially their Giuliano, which is a blend of Friulano, Pinot Bianco (Pinot Blanc), Pinot Grigio (Pinot Gris) and Auxerrois with a small bit of perfumed Moscato (Muscat) that winemaker John Paul, a huge fan of Friuli and Alto Adige whites, along with this new single varietal Friulano release. Cameron it should noted is legendary for their Burgundy inspired Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, with their estate bottlings being some of America’s great wines and their lineup of Italian influenced stuff is not far behind these days, in particular these whites, but John Paul also crafts an amazing Nebbiolo and a couple of intriguing skin contact Pinot Gris, one that is traditionally copper hued, a Ramato, and a deeply red version or Gris Rouge. There’s so much cool stuff coming from Oregon these days, it is remarkable and while yes, the Pinots are the state’s main attraction, there’s a lot more to discover up here, as this fabulous Friulano clearly demonstrates! This is not a just geeky hipster after thought, this skin contact wine is not overtly orange wine funky, it is more graceful than you’d expect and I hope hope it is a permanent part of Cameron’s collection. This Friulano would easily shine with briny sea foods, in particular I would love to have another few bottles around of this rarity for oysters, stemmed mussels and or clam dishes.
($45 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive