Ovum Big Salt White – Organic
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 in the Pacific Northwest.
Big Salt is made from vineyards in the Elkton AVA, planted on Windygap soils (deep, well-drained residuum and colluvium from sandstone and siltstone) . The grapes blended here are 90% Gewurztraminer (planted in 1980) & Riesling (planted in 1983, native yeast co-fermented in stainless steel. Plus 8% Early Muscat (planted in 1978), native fermented in neutral barrel, 2% Melon, Savignin Rose (planted in 1980), and Pinot Noir (all de-stemmed and added to the press). Made with no additives except low quantities of SO2, crossflow filtered and bottled after 6 months on lees.
Look for sea spray, spices, rich citrus and stone fruits in the nose and on the palate. In spite of the relatively low alcohol, the flavors are fully ripe, densely packed, intense and compelling. This is a terrific Oregon white at this price and full of personality. Serve with seafood, especially Thai and Japanese dishes, or with fresh, crunchy green veggies and salads, goat and sheep’s milk cheeses, gingery accents, salumi dipped in orange ginger mustard and more….
Winery notes: “Big Salt is a co-fermentation rather than a blend – meaning we allow mother nature to create complexity rather than attempting to blend the wine after the fact. Starting in mid Sept, we pick Gewurz that is then soaked on the skins then pressed to tank. As that juice begins to ferment, we incorporate Early Muscat, followed by Riesling, then an additional pick of Gewurz, followed by Pinot Blanc and Riesling. Big Salt is the culmination of the myriad of climates Oregon vineyards have to offer in each vintage.
2021 Big Salt erupts from the glass with a mélange of citrus – bergamot, flamed lemon, sweet grapefruit. Salty white tea aromats are interlaced with pithy lemon before a waft of alyssum hits your senses. Classic Big Salt on the palate – racy acidity combined with beeswax-y textures before finishing dry.”
Big Salt pairs well with fish tacos, pesto chicken pasta, pad thai…or just chilling. Cellar: 3-8 years of optimal drinking.
Prior vintage review 92 points, Wine Enthusiast As production ramps up, quality remains consistently high in this proprietary blend of co-fermented Muscat, Riesling and Gewürztraminer. Spicy, penetrating aromas of pear blossoms, ginger and kumquat lead to a lively palate with citrus skin flavor, a dash of sea salt and drying minerality. It’s a well-balanced, unique white wine with splendid food pairing options.