2020 Fair Moon Wine, Skin Contact Pinot Gris “Sunshine Effect” Holmes Gap Vineyard, Van Duzer Corridor, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
A fresh and naturally made skin contact Pinot Gris by debutante winemaker Jessica Wilmes, after years as a harvest gypsy, who has found a home in Oregon’s Willamette Valley has recently released her first ever wine under her own Fair Moon Wine label with this “Sunshine Effort” bottling, inspired by some of the world’s most intriguing skin contact white wines, known as orange or Ramato wines like those of Gravner, Radikon, Skerk and Zidarich in northeastern Italy, as well as a few closer to home, like Oregon’s Cameron’s skin contact versions. The color is fascinatingly dark pink/ruby and incredibly inviting, especially for wine geeks and lovers of skin contact whites and this Sunshine Effect is more red wine like in dry extract, savoriness and with some rustic tannin giving this earthy wine some structural firmness to go along with the ripe fruit which leans to red apple, orange rind, strawberry and sour cherry. The wine, which has a hint of basque dry cider, is made to be a raw, without fussiness and is freshly quaffable, it is a bottle you can put in a cool stream while skinny dipping and or have in a quiet forest meadow surrounded by tall redwoods, it is less at home at a white table cloth restaurant under the spotlight of expectations, it is much more happy in nature as I obliged with by enjoying it with a cool salty breeze and a remote beach along with a piece of crusty bread and stinky farm cheese. This proved to be a simple and pleasing combination with the environment and setting being a wonderful pairing for this wine, with its feral meaty and dusty herbal notes as well as the light sediment here not impeding the sense of joy and amusement provided by this simple, but unique Pinot Gris. As the wine gets air and warms in the glass it gains a smooth texture and adds some dried flowers to the mix, making it nicely refreshing, especially with a bite of cheese and or grilled prawns, smoked trout or steamed crayfish I imagine.
Fair Moon Wine is an ultra small-production micro winery, the looks to hand-craft unique tiny lot stuff with natural-driven winemaking, with, what Wilmes playfully adds, happy palates in mind. She is motivated by her own experiences, which have included years chasing harvest intern jobs, having to live out of her trusty Toyota Tundra truck and long hours for little pay, which has made her grateful for fleeting moments of calm. This has led her to make wines that are fun, quaffable and flavorful, for what she hopes will be enjoyed during everyday adventures or periods of total relaxation with friends and with lots laughter. Jessica’s first vintage highlights this pleasure seeking passion with skin-contact Pinot Gris, sourced from the cool climate Holmes Gap Vineyard nestled in the Van Duzer Corridor in the Willamette Valley with mainly marine sedimentary soils. The name, Sunshine Effect, originates from, as Wilmes explains, the daily moving of the fermenter outside into the sun to kick off fermentation. Wilmes allowed her cool macerated Pinot Gris to go all with spontaneous yeast fermentation, with absolutely no additives, with short term aging in a single neutral French oak barrel and bottled unfiltered and unfined. This delightful reddish glowing wine, Wilmes says, is a wine that would flirt with you, bring good times and would always wear twirly dresses if it was a human, I can see that! Digging into modern natural wines can be a painful task at times with lots of weirdness out there, something that Wilmes herself admits and while she embraces the funk and doesn’t shy away from it here, she also is not a fan of seriously flawed or is driven by pure dogma over the goal of making a wine of balance. Only a barrel of this was made and it is available direct at fairmoonwine.com and is also found in a few spots in Portland that feature orange wines. Playing on the edge of a knife’s blade is not easy, especially for a winemaker not born into wealth, so hats off to Jessica for going for it and largely succeeding here, I admire this first effort and look forward to seeing what’s next!
($28 Est.) 88 Points, grapelive