Ovum Memorista Riesling 2017
#41 wine in VinePair's Top 50 of 2018
Notes of Opal apple, green walnut skin, and salted maple.
Founded by husband-and-wife duo John House and Ksenija Kostic in 2011, Ovum is a celebration of the diverse expressions of Oregon Riesling. After years of learning the intricacies of the Willamette Valley while working together at Chehalem, John and Ksenija set off to further investigate the myriad terroirs of Oregon through the lens of Riesling, and now source fruit from through the state. They have found sites with blustery Pacific winds, extreme diurnal shifts, and rocky, well-draining soils.
To emphasize the idiosyncrasies of these vineyards, all of Ovum’s wines see the same practices in the cellar: natural fermentations, no additions or subtractions except for SO2, extended lees contact of 8-9 months – all in neutral barrels of acacia and oak, as well as Nomblot concrete eggs. The resulting wines are textured and concentrated, driven by minerality, and framed by unwavering acidity. Ovum’s work is among the most compelling white winemaking we have encountered in our search throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Home to some of America’s most celebrated Pinot Noir, Oregon maintains a tight focus on small production, high quality wine even while the state’s industry enjoys steady growth. As a world-renowned wine region, Oregon has more than 700 wineries and is home to well over 70 grape varieties. With a mostly Mediterranean climate, its cooler and wetter regions lie in the west, close to the Pacific Coast.
By far the most reputed region is the Willamette Valley, which is further subdivided into six smaller appellations: Chehalem Mountains, Dundee Hills, Eola-Amity Hills, McMinnville, Ribbon Ridge and Yamhill-Carlton.
The Valley’s obvious success story is with Pinot Noir, which here takes on a personality that could be described in general terms as somewhere in between the wines of California and Burgundy—and is often more affordable than either one. The best Willamette Pinot noir has a rare combination of red and black fruit, elegant balance, high acidity and rustic earth. While completely enjoyable in their youth, some of the better, single vineyard or appellation-specific Pinot noirs can often benefit from some cellar time.
Riesling possesses a remarkable ability to reflect the character of wherever it is grown while still maintaining its identity. A regal variety of incredible purity and precision, this versatile grape can be just as enjoyable dry or sweet, young or old, still or sparkling and can age longer than nearly any other white variety. Somm Secret—Given how difficult it is to discern the level of sweetness in a Riesling from the label, here are some clues to find the dry ones. First, look for the world “trocken.” (“Halbtrocken” or “feinherb” mean off-dry.) Also a higher abv usually indicates a drier Riesling.