Monday, June 5, 2017

Oregon's Orange Riesling

From southern Oregon's Applegate Valley, Troon Vineyards has released a Riesling to contemplate. The 2016 Troon Riesling Whole Grape Ferment doesn't look like a Riesling. It has a faint burnished orange color, like apple cider. It's not made like most Rieslings, either. I’ll let General Manager Craig Camp tell you about that. He came to Troon from Napa Valley last year, and this incredible wine is one that "fully reflects" his winemaking goals.

In this wine, as in all from the 2016 vintage, Camp says it was all about "native yeast ferments, no additives (enzymes, acids, sugar) and no new oak barrels."  He says the orange Riesling was "produced essentially the same way" as the winery's red wines. The grapes were "first crushed by foot, destemmed, then it was transferred to one-ton fermenters. The native yeast fermentation started after 48 hours and completed in ten days. The fermenters were punched down by hand once a day. It was then pressed into neutral French Oak barrels for three months. That's it." And that's enough.

The wine staff made the decision to bottle earlier than planned to maintain freshness, and it is a fresh wine. Camp says the wine "should be consumed young and fresh, but as this is the first time we've made it we really don't know how it will age, I'll be keeping some bottles around to see how it develops." I wish I had that kind of patience.

He likes the Troon Riesling Whole Grape Ferment with tapas, but its freshness and structure would allow a pairing with a wide variety of dishes. This Riesling offers alcohol at only 12% abv and retails for $20.

The wine’s orange color is immediately interesting. The nose is beautiful - orange blossoms, peaches and pears, oh my. On the palate it drinks like a red wine, full and flavorful. There even seems to be tannic structure. The fruitiness I expected revealed itself instead as savory. Salinity drapes the apple flavors beautifully. I should mention, it's dry, by the way. And the acidity is fresh and lively.

Camp tells me that Troon will continue the "orange wine" program this year with a second vintage of the Riesling and a Vermentino done the same way.