2021 Fair Moon Wine Co, Tinta Caõ “Breakfast Wine” Havlin Vineyard, Van Duzer Corridor AVA, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
Tinta Caõ, pronounced Teenta Cow, is one of the major varieties used in Port wines along with the more famous Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Tinta Barroca and Touriga Franca, but is delicious all on its own, as it is here in winemaker Jessica Wilmes’ Fair Moon Wine Co version from the Willamette Valley in Oregon, where it is still a unique rarity. Wilmes, who inspired by the great women winemakers of the natural wine world like but not limited to Arianna Occhipinti, Elisabetta Foradori, Laura Lorenzo, Martha Stoumen and Elena Elena Pantaleoni of La Stoppa, as well as being a fan of orange wines, started out her own label last year when she released her Sunshine effect skin contact Pinot Gris or Gris Rouge and has just released her second set of wines, which includes this Tinta Caõ! Seriously dry and juicy the 2021 Fair Moon Wine Co Breakfast Wine, 100% carbonic maceration, native yeast fermented Tinta Caõ saw absolutely no additions, sans soufre and is all natural with just 11% natural alcohol, it shows racy red fruits, spice and zesty acidity, like Beaujolais it is tasty with a slight chill and perfect for beach sipping and or enjoying by a campfire. I really enjoy the zippy strawberry, plum and cherry fruits along with a stemmy/spicy peppery pop and light earthy tones in this lighter framed and playful red wine. The Tinta Caõ is sourced from the Havlin Vineyard set in the hills of the Van Duzer Corridor AVA, which is an anomaly, or wind gap in the Coast Range that lets oceanic winds funnel into the Valley, creating a cooling effect and helping retain bright acidity and the marine sediment soils add the stony saline notes in the wines, which s perfect for this grape, as well as Pinot Noir, Gamay, another grape destined to be in Jessica’s lineup, and Chardonnay. Though she admits to loving the funk, Wilmes’ Tinta Caõ is not overtly natty and nor is it fruity in style, with a crisp dry tartness that is more old world fresh in style and food friendly, this bright ruby hued no pretense quaffer was great with grilled shrimp and lightly seasoned pasta.

One of the five main Port varietals, Tinta Cão, is a red Portuguese wine grape variety found mainly in the Douro region, and has been grown there since the sixteenth century, it sees very limited new world plantings including small parcels in California and in Oregon, as seen here with Jessica’s version. The vine naturally produces very low yields, that does not make growers very happy, which has led Tinto Caõ to get close to extinction in its homeland, this is despite the high quality of wine that it can produce, and we are lucky that it is seeing a revival of sorts. While normally used in blended wines, Tinta Caõ shows real promise as a single or main varietal and I look forward to seeing more of them, especially after experiencing this fun and easy going wine. Interesting in California, Tinta Caõ, also know as Castellana Negra, research at Davis has led to Improvements in bilateral cordon training and these experiments have helped to sustain the variety in the state. The vine, it is noted as well, favors cooler climates and, like Cinsault does in Bandol or Alicante Bouschet does in the Ribeira Sacra, adds a certain finesse and complexity to a blended wine even in small doses. Jessica, who had never worked with Tinta Caõ before, was excited to give it a go and decided a hands off approach was the way to go, she teases that the wine’s nickname during crush was her “Half-Assed Carbonic” Tinta Caõ, as she just covered/sealed the bin at let nature run its course, before she pressed it to neutral barrel to age for 8 months, then bottled unfiltered. Jessica, who I profiled here on Grapelive.com, Click Here, has just released this wine along with the second edition of her signature Sunshine Effect skin contact Pinot Gris (Gris Rouge) and another all new bottling of skin contact (Pinot) Auxerrois, which might be the most unique single varietal, of this Alsatian grape, offering in America! After years as a harvest gypsy and just a few years in Oregon, working as an intern for Troon Vineyard in Applegate and here in the Willamette Valley with John Grochau at Grochau Cellars, Jessica has found a welcoming home and is new winemaker, taking her own path crafting wines made from the sun and meant only to bring smiles, to follow.
($25 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

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