2015 Cameron Winery, Pinot Gris “Rouge de Gris” Orange Style Wine, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
In an ode to Radikon, John Paul has crafted an American orange wine that gives a new twist on an ancient style of skin contact wine from the Willamette Valley. Made for centuries in Georgia, this fashion of skin contact white has been revived in western Europe, especially in the remote northeast of of Italy, near the Slovenian border, in Friuli where you find the savory weirdly dry wines made by local legends like Gravner, Skerk and the mentioned Stanko Radikon, who Paul tributes this wine to, after his death in September of 2016. Stanko’s wine were the ultimate pursuit of naturalness, they are unique and often brilliantly complex, to achieve his goals and without the use of chemical additions he looked to the ancient Georgian techniques of long skin contact and amphora, though Radikon also uses neutral cask as well, as does this Cameron, extended time on the skins in white wines leads to intense dry palates with wildly savory notes and a yellow/orange/pinkish hues, (Pinot Gris is very dark skinned and gives a bit more intensity and pigment during maceration) it is believed the skins add extra protection against spoilage and added antioxidant benefit. In recent years many natural wine producers around the world have been experimenting with orange wines, some adding refinement and sophisticated class to the category, wines by Elisabetta Foradori, especially her classy and very pretty “Fuoripista” (also made of Pinot Grigio) and Frederic Niger (of Domaine de L’Ecu) come to mind. Otherwise it is a style that mainstream wine drinkers avoid like the plague, brave is the new world winemaker that tries to craft such weirdness, and with that we’ll explore John Paul’s version. First thing you’ll notice is the deep ruby reddish color, it’s like a light Pinot Noir in hue in the glass and the flavors are more pretty than raw with a slight savory element, it’s dry and crisp with a nice textural mouth feel leaning on tart cherry, strawberry and with the impression of red apple as well red peach, a touch of nectarine fruits, a light dusting of spices, earthy notes, grilled/dried citrus, mineral and saline infused wet stones. Some orange wines, while interesting are not easy to love or often  joyous to drink, but the Dundee Hills based Cameron’s medium bodied and ripely flavored Rouge de Gris is intriguing and very enjoyable, it can be used to great effect as an alternative to a serious Rose and will go well with a range of cuisine, and for those that have had and like Foradori’s skin contact Pinot Grigio from the Alto Adige, then this will be an exciting wine to try too.
($33 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

By admin