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Chad Stock, the winemaker at Minimus, uses this label as a way of exploring off-the-beaten-path ways of making strange and fantastic wines. There are few producers who so regularly make fantastic wines using methods, grapes, and ideas that are almost unheard of. Whether it's the use of new acacia barrels, dry wines made from botrytised grapes, exceedingly rare mutations of Pinot Noir, or never-before-seen blends, Chad evinces a creative fluency in the cellar that is nigh unmatched. Today we have a few exciting wines to offer you that are both delicious, and intriguingly made.
When it comes to white wines, interesting aging methods and obscure grapes are the rule. The 2017 SM1 Sauvignon Blanc is sourced from the Applegate Valley in Southwestern Oregon, and aged in beautiful amphorae made domestically by potter and winemaker Andrew Dow Beckham, giving this wine a distinctive character I've never experienced in Sauvingon Blanc. Chad's 2016 Mount Eden Clone Chardonnay is also one of the more compelling Chardonnays I've had from Oregon, aged in cigar barrels, which are longer and thinner, and thus allow much more lees contact. The Mount Eden clone is one of the first Chardonnay clones brought to the US, and is rarely utilized in Oregon. In fact, this is the first bottling of 100% Mount Eden clone Chardonnay ever bottled in Oregon. The final white is perhaps the rarest. The 2017 Origin Pinot Gouges is made from an extraordinarily rare white mutation of Pinot Noir discovered by Henri Gouges in his vineyards in the 1930s. This wine is done with skin contact, and has immense, spicy aromatic power.
We also have two rosés to offer, neither of which are your basic garden variety summer sipper. The 2016 "This Would be Illegal in Europe" rosé is deep, dense, dark, dry, and still. Named in honor of it's wildly disparate cépage, this rosé is a blend of Tempranillo, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Gris, Petite Arvine, Schiopettino, Savagnin Rose, and Abouriou. This is a powerful, beautiful, structured, ageworthy rosé. We also have a delicious pet nat, the 2018 Dolcetto Petillant Naturel, which is from one of the only sites with Dolcetto in the state. This is a perfect, juicy, brilliantly articulated sparkler that is perfect for the hazy humidity of a New York summer.
The reds we have today are the 2017 SM3 Syrah and the 2015 Origin Pinot Noir Johan Vineyard. These are both striking, intense, ageworthy reds that take their referents from the Old World, but remain classic examples of what Oregon can be capable of in the right, conscientious, detail-oriented hands. Andrew Farquhar
This Pet Nat rosé is 100% Dolcetto sourced from the Jubilee Vineyard, planted in 2011 in Eola-Amity Hills. The first noticeable aspect of this sparkler is its beautiful, delicate, roseate hue. Bottled at a sultry 3 atmospheres, This amazing, bright, juicy pet nat, bottled at a soft and sultry 3 atmospheres of pressure (champagne is traditionally bottled at 6) is going to be in a constant in my rooftop, park, and beach rotation this summer. Bright red notes of tart apple skin and raspberry burst on the fore-palate, weaving amongst the sprightly mousse in delicate interplay. Spontaneous ferment occurs in half neutral wood and half stainless steel tank. This fun, fresh wine should be drunk cool, and preferably this summer. Andrew Farquhar
This Sauvignon Blanc is very different from almost any I've ever had. The amphorae are made by winemaker and potter Andrew Dow Beckham with clay from the Sacramento Delta. Only 24 hours of skin maceration before long fermentation in the cool clay, this is a beautiful, well-iterated example of Sauvignon Blanc, still with overt aromatics, but with an unexpected citrusy honeyed character I've never gotten from Sauvignon. This wine has great tensile strength, with a strong mineral core, with great integration of tannin, alcohol, and acid, none of which exist out of turn, but are posed together in a subtle tableau vivant that serves to enlighten and enhance the primary characteristics of this wine. Only 250 cases produced. Andrew Farquhar
The Mount Eden Chardonnay clone is one of my favorites, brought in the early 20th century by Paul Masson to the Santa Cruz Mountains. This is the only 100% Mount Eden clone Chardonnay produced in Oregon. Aged in neutral cigar barrels, which have much longer staves (and thus are more cigar-shaped, there's no "smokiness"), for greater wine-to-lees ratio. This is one of the most distinctive Chardonnays I've ever had from Oregon, with the kind of multi-movement symphonic structure I associate with true winemaking mastery. Leesy and citrusy on the nose, the palate changes to a formidably rich and languid contrapuntal adagio before the finely-tuned finish stretches seemingly forever into a delicate yeasty coda. If you think you don't like domestic Chardonnay I would encourage you to try this fascinating wine. Only 98 cases produced! Andrew Farquhar
This is a fascinating wine made from a truly strange grape. Henri Gouges, famed winemaker in Nuits-Saint-Georges, found a white-skinned mutation of Pinot Noir in the 1er Cru La Perrière vineyard in the 1930s. Luckily, a tiny amount of it ended up in the United States! 60% free run juice and 40% destemmed and macerated for six months, this is a wine unlike any I've ever had. This wine has a ton of aromatic depth, with floral notes intermixed with huskier phenolic character redolent of fennel, caraway, and intriguing, exotic herbal spiciness. On the palate this wine has a good dose of chalky tannins and bitter citrus pith mixed with an elegant dose of white peach and apple character. This wine also has fantastic natural acidity. With its great energy, and complex, herbal, aromatic spicy character this wine would be a perfect pairing with South Asian cuisine. Only 45 cases produced. Andrew Farquhar
This wine, informally known as "This Would be Illegal in Europe," was made from a number of different reds, whites, and rosés, all fermented separately. The premise was to try and take advantage of an aspect of American winemaking frequently considered a weakness: it's lack of tradition and regulation. This wine is a blend of (deep breath) Tempranillo, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Gris, Petite Arvine, Schiopettino, Savagnin Rose, and Abouriou. The freedom to be able to blend all these grapes together and make a rosé from them ends up being a great boon, because this is one of the most interesting domestic rosés to be had this year. A dense, cloudy pink, this wine has a funky, and at times feral, nose. It's still very young, even though it spent over a year in barrel. The dense funkiness on the nose becomes an amazing, grapefruit juiciness on the palate that made this difficult to keep in the bottle. An immense, virtuosic finish goes seemingly forever, interlaced with tropical pomegranate aftershocks. Andrew Farquhar
This Syrah hails from the Stella Maris Vineyard in Oregon's Applegate Valley, the only sub-AVA in Oregon's most southerly winemaking region: the Applegate Valley. Fermented whole-cluster for 21 days before pressing, this wine was then aged for 15 months in neutral barrel. This is a dense, powerful, classic Syrah, with deep, mournful notes of classic Northern Rhone character but with a touch more overt blue fruit. Powerful, brooding, and tannic, this is one of the most serious, age-worthy Syrahs I've tasted from Oregon. Andrew Farquhar
This fantastic Pinot Noir is sourced from the biodynamic certified Johan Vineyard, placed smack dab in the center of the Van Duzer Corridor, the only break in Oregon's coastal ranges. This means the Johan vineyard has more maritime influence than any other vineyard in the Willamette Valley, with stiff coastal winds buffeting this vineyard every day making for very slow and late ripening. This creates a wine of indelible contradistinctions. On the one hand, this is a lifted, elegant, tart Pinot with incredible lift and clarity, and yet it also has a deeper, huskier, spicy character with an intense, bitter, herbaceous nose that had somewhere within its folds a hint of amaro, old furniture, and dusty minerality. This wine was made with 33% whole cluster grapes, and was aged for 15 months in 33% new French barrique, with the rest in used French barrique. Only 50 cases of this extraordinary, distinctive Pinot Noir were made. Andrew Farquhar