2020 James Rahn, Skin Contact Pinot Gris, Weber Vineyard, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
Another one in my group, of my study of Pinot Gris, that highlight the past and future of this grape, is the James Rahn Weber Vineyard Willamette Valley skin contact Pinot Gris with its bright reddish/organge pink color, with a hint of cloudiness and slightly savory/smoky profile with a fleshy medium bodied palate and smooth texture, making it an interesting Northeast Italy (Friuli Venezia Giulia) inspired version. I have a feeling this vineyard might have been effected by some smoke from the fires that raged through the Pacific Northwest as I maybe just feel a touch of ashy influence, but with the minimum amount of skin contact it doesn’t really intrude on the mostly pleasing freshness and fruit detail here, though it would be best to enjoy this wine in the immediate future and not to wait to get the best of the pretty layering that it now shows. There is plenty to like here with a mix of fruit and stony notes with red apples, grilled citrus, melon and earthy strawberry along with a hint of leathery and woodsy truffle, minty herbs and delicate baking spices. This dusty dry wine is best served with pungent foods, I can see it going well with everything from briny raw oysters to feta cheese salads and even sea urchin. Oregon is a hot bed for new and exciting wines and has led to a whole new wave in whites, including an array of Pinot Gris styles from the classic Eyrie version to Cameron’s Ramato (cooper colored) example to various shades of skin contact, with the new label from Fair Moon Wines, the Sunshine Effect Skin Contact Pinot Gris being another really nice savory style, like this Rahn Weber edition, all showcasing the full range of what this grape can do.
In recent years, James Rahn has become a highly sought out label, producing highly individual and unique wines with a focus on Pinot Noir, but with some beautifully hand crafted bottlings of cool rarities like Mondeuse, the famous Savoie red grape, Trousseau, the lighter hued Jura grape that has become an underground success story in both Oregon and California, Gruner Veltliner, the classic Austrian white grape and Pinot Meunier, the other Champagne red grape that has shown huge potential here in the Willamette Valley along with Gamay, the classic Beaujolais grape that is thriving and getting almost as desirable as Pinot Noir these days, being a fast seller in lineups like Rahn’s and last but not least a dry intense Riesling, which is how I discovered Rahn. The Pinot Gris, made more like a red wine with a skin maceration, is sourced from the sustainably grown Weber Vineyard in the Dundee Hills AVA on a combination of soils with mainly Jory, red volcanic and marine sedimentary influences here. The Weber Vineyards, which are quite mature vines that were planted between 1975-1988 the Weber’s property includes a total of thirty five acres, with old vine Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and even some Gewurtzraminer grapes, as well as the small parcel of Pinot Gris. Rahn notes that, over the years the Weber Vineyard grapes were sold to some famous names, such as Erath Winery, John Paul at Cameron, Rex Hill and Arterberry Winery to name a few. The Rahn Pinot Gris saw a ripe pick, but finished at 12.3% natural alcohol, retaining good energy with fresh acidity and was aged in neutral French oak barrels, to promote purity, going through full malos and bottled unfined and unfiltered after a few months in the wood, this vintage is slightly lighter than in the past, with the 2018 being much darker, made in the Gris Rouge style, by comparison. There is a lot to get excited about in Rahn’s collection and I highly recommend checking these cool wines out!
($25 Est.) 87 Points, grapelive