On Wednesday, I went to a big trade tasting that featured about 100 wines from 40 or so producers. These events are always hard for me. They are great for tasting a bunch of wines, but, despite careful note-taking, the wines always run together in my memory, persisting as a small, winedark sea that is generally pleasant but otherwise useless for wine buying purposes. Add to this my predilection for chatting, drinking, losing my tasting sheet, and making sure my toddler doesn’t get into the spit buckets, and it’s amazing that I manage to remember anything. But at this particular event, there was a set of wines unlike anything I have ever tasted.
John Swick is a winemaker in Oregon. After brief stints making wine in Portugal, New Zealand, Italy, Australia, and California, he broke out on his own and, inspired by the wines he had discovered in France, started making completely natural wines. In his words: “Nothing added, nothing taken away. I like experiencing everything, including wines, as raw as possible. This is the most authentic expression of place and growing year as possible.”
We talk a lot about natural wines, but people don’t realize how rare they are on the West Coast. As far as I know, Tony Coturri is the only producer making all of his wines completely without additions. And John Swick is the second. But unlike Coturri’s dense, extracted wines, Swick’s are lightly fruited, with bright acidity and exuberant floral aromatics. They are utterly unique in the way they combine lush, new world fruit character with the minerality and acidic snap I associate with wines from the Loire Valley or the Jura.
We will pour these four wines:
2015 “Les Sous-Bois” Pinot Gris
2015 Melon de Bourgogne
2015 Crooked Acres Pinot Gris (macerated Pinot Gris)
2015 Gris Foncé (Pinot Noir/Gris coferment)
The wines are very special and should not be missed. Hope to see you there.