Quiet Wines of Place: Introducing OVUM

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Yesterday, I gathered my notebook, pen and nose and headed down to the Tobacco Dock in Wapping to the Real Wine Fair.

The Real Wine Fair is a celebration of all things organic, biodynamic and natural, within the world of wine. Suffice to say I wasn’t quite prepared for what was ahead. Two huge rooms of some of the most interesting producers and wines I’ve ever encountered. Two hours was nowhere near enough. One wine was a combination of 417 grape varieties, something I’ll probably never get to try again.

Organic, natural and biodynamic wines are no longer a niche thing, or the reserve of hipsters. They’re (finally) garnering more attention and so they should. Yes, some of them might be on the weird and wacky side, but isn’t that what wine is about too? While we may all retain love for classic Bordeaux, it’s incredible to taste wines from farflung places made in unique and sometimes ancient methods, or on the other hand, innovative and new methods that haven’t been tried before.

I’ll be looking in-depth into more of the producers too, but for now I’m going to concentrate on Ovum Wines, all the way from Oregon.

OVUM

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“We’re not trying to make the “best” wine, just an honest reflection of when, and where it came from.”

Ovum stays true to the tradition of old world wine production, focusing on the neutral barrel (or Nomblot cement eggs) In this sense Ovum is “an homage to the past”.

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One of Ovum’s winemaking eggs

Their niche is discovering the terroir of the Pacific Northwest, uncovering unique terroirs and the resulting expression of place through the medium of wine.

Their wines all aim to show a wild aspect, whether from the native ferments used in winemaking, or discinct characteristics that come from the remote forests on the California-Oregon border. Their labels seek to give an indication of what’s inside the bottle.

John House, winemaker, states,

“If the soil could speak to us, think of the root taking a signal from the soil, then transmits through the vine and into the grape, and we have the opportunity to make that signal audible. Drinking an Ovum wine should be like listening to AM Radio, in Stereo.”

I had the chance to really experience this with the comparison of two Gewurztraminer wines from the same vineyard both named with Nina Simone lyrics, but one from alluvial clay, called “Do I Move You?” and the other from serpentine clay, called “Into the Dark”, which John explained to me is a very unique gold/green clay that comes from the oceanic crust. The terroir used to be a gold mine in the 1800s so its rich in magnesium.

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The first was a smooth gentle delicious Gewurtz with green apple and floral “joyful” notes, as I would describe. The one from serpentine clay showed a deeper more serious side of earthiness, an entirely different palate to what the first showed. This can only come from the terroir, so to any wine critics out there harping anti-terroir theories, try these and say that this isn’t to do with the soil and I’ll eat my hat.

THE WINES

Do I Move You? Gewurztraminer 2013

Wonderfully gentle, soft palate of green apples and blossom flowers.

Into the Dark Gewurztraminer 2014

Serious palate with earthy, forest notes unusual for a Gewurz, still with the blossom but a slightly riper side to it.

Riesling Deep Water 2014

Grown in Basalt. Lovely ripeness and zingy texture with a low pH of under 3. Sea breeze notes with fresh white flower notes, combined with a honeyed finish.

Off the Grid 2014

Bright acid with a natural sweet side. Green apples combined with ripe peach notes, again with slightly savoury notes. Neverending finish.

Memorista 2014

Bright freshness: I could drink this day in day out. Lime combined with minerality, and such a vitality. The classic white blossom shines through here, but with that wet mineral rock characteristic so unique here.

Thanks for making these John!!

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