2021 Fair Moon Wine – Sunshine Effect, Skin Contact Auxerrois, Zenith Vineyard, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
Jessica Wilmes, winemaker at her Fair Moon Wine label, has made one of the only pure Auxerrois wines I’ve ever seen and or tried, a grape that rarely gets to be a solo act, and she made a distinct example with a long skin contact maceration and an all natural fermentation. This golden/yellow hued dry and cleanly crisp white is surprisingly delicate and brightly toned with fresh citrus, tart peach and mineral notes, showing much less pigment color, savory funk or tannin that most orange wines, making it beautifully refreshing, low alcohol and great for lighter cuisine, like ceviche or as Jessica suggests, it is nice with raw sushi. The grapes come from the exceptional, most organic, Zenith Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA which is in the Chehalem range and set on sedimentary soils and mostly known for outstanding Pinot Noir, though there is also small parcels of Pinot Gris and a few other lesser known varietals, like this Auxerrois. This unfiltered Sunshine Effect 2021 Auxerrois reminds me a little of Sandi Skerk’s Vitovska or Malvasía bottlings, in terms of color and clarity, though less aromatic, but with a touch of spice, lemon peel and chamomile, that adds some complexity. (More on Jessica Wilmes – click here)
Auxerrois Blanc, once called Pinot Auxerrois, though not a member in the Pinot family, is also known as Auxerrois Blanc de Laquenexy, it is a white wine grape that is most commonly found in Alsace, France. It is a rather bland varietal without much that makes it interesting on its own, though Jessica has given this grape some complexity and life here with the skin contact. Auxerrois has not been widely traveled, though it also grown in Germany and Luxembourg, where it finds a home where it’s typically blended into generic whites, so it was interesting to find it here in Oregon. It should be noted that Auxerrois is a full sibling of Chardonnay, but doesn’t the body, depth and range of flavors, which is why that it is often blended with Pinot Blanc, in small percentages, both at home in Alsace and in the Willamette Valley. Jessica, who has interned at Troon Vineyard and Grochau Cellars, has just released her second vintage of wines that include her signature Gris Rouge, skin contact Pinot Gris, a fun carbonic Tinto Caõ red and this 11% natural alcohol Auxerrois, which saw a 12 day skin fermentation and absolutely zero additions, sans soufre, then aged in neutral barrel for a few months. Wilmes has been inspired by natural wines and was influence by her tastings of Gravner, Radikon and Foradori, as well as other orange wine producers in both the old and new world, and her wines, which are reasonably price, are well worth looking for.
($25 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive