Hello friends. Today we have one of my favorite wineries to write about in the northwest: John House and Ksenija Kostic’s Ovum.
In summer 2011, those two left perfectly steady winery jobs at Chehalem Winery, and they began driving all over Oregon looking for distinctive, potentially forgotten Riesling vineyards; vineyards with extreme climate shifts, poor and rocky soils, and talented farmers. They treat all their Rieslings (and Gewurztraminer; that was a happy surprise) the same way: old barrels, native yeast, long ferments.
The goals are to express a sense of place and time in the glass, to emphasize mineral and earth as primary flavor components (pushing fruit and floral to the background), to create something honest, something wild.
We’ve previously pitched these as under-the-radar gems, but that’s all about to change. Wine Enthusiast’s February issue is going to contain a series of glowing reviews from Paul Gregutt, and those come on the heels of equally strong praise from John Gilman, whose excellent View From The Cellar is usually quite Euro-focused.
Thanks to a long old happy relationship with Mr. House, we’re also being offered these wines at a lovely discount. Normally line-priced at $30, these are today offered at two-thirds that price.
From a site called Cedar Ranch vineyard, down near the California border, with 15-year-old Riesling vines on an old creekbed that cuts through the Northern-Cali/Southern-Oregon forestland. The soil contains grapefruit-sized river cobbles, or “alluvial galets” over packed silt. The Riesling clocks in at 12.5% alc and 1.0% residual sugar. As in previous vintages (we’ve offered two previously), it drinks like the lovechild of Chablis and Trocken Mosel, all salty rocks and flinty minerals over a core of Mirabelle plum and citrus peel fruit.
Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD. 93pts.”
A new Riesling for 2015, from an unnamed “top site” in the Ribbon Ridge AVA. Soils are marine sedimentary, alcohol is 12.2%, and RS 2.2%. It is a salty-sweet delight, offering plenty of saline mineral tones to balance a core of stone fruits, tropical fruits, and quince paste. Glorious Oregon Riesling. A real statement of intent.
Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. Editor’s Choice. 94pts.”
What happens when you set out to make Riesling but you find an amazing Gewurztraminer vineyard? Answer: you make amazing Gewurztraminer. This comes from Gerber Vineyard, a 1976-planted site in the Illinois Valley of southern Oregon, close enough to the Pacific to get some maritime influence. The vineyard sees huge diurnal temperature shifts and sits on alluvial pebbles on top of a base of clay. Listed alc is 12.8%; RS 0.7%. This is glorious, honest Gewurz that we’ve offered every time we’ve written about Ovum (albeit under different names: I’m Gonna Fool You 2011, Homage To Z 2012, and In The Dark 2014). For me there are only two contenders for best northwest Gewurz, and this is one of them (Chris Dowsett’s is the other).
View From The Cellar (John Gilman): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”
First come first served up to 36 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and the wines should arrive in a week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.