2020 Open Face 'Maherajah Red'
Region: Chehalem Mountains < Oregon
Grapes: Gamay, Zinfandel
Vineyard/Cellar stats: Organic farming, jory/volcanic loam soils; Zin and Gamay are fermented separately, both whole berry, de-stemmed carbonic fermentation; bottled unfined/unfiltered with >40ppm added SO2; 13% ABV; 190 cases
Winemaker: Michael Croom
Michael Croom's wine journey was not a direct route but rather a meandering, sometimes clumsy, amble. Michael, with aspirations of being a chef, attended the Culinary Institute of America in New York, but it was the required wine course there that lit his fire. He aced the class - something Michael readily admits was a first (and only) in his academic career, and eventually made his way to California with his then girlfriend, now wife, for various kitchen and wine jobs. In 2014, he worked harvest in New Zealand, an experience that put him firmly on the wine path, followed by a move to Oregon to give it a go.
Michael named his project Open face in homage to an infatuation with motorcycles, which, to him, represent ultimate freedom. Hitting the road "open faced" is a spirit he wants to evoke in the wines he's making, all of which start with strictly organic vineyards. And all of which are balanced and beautiful. This time around, we're loving his new 'Maherajah' red blend, a crunchy light-ish red with soft, plush tannins and bright, uplifted red fruit. There's no Pinot here, but it kind of drinks like a Pinot, with that smooth, juicy mouthfeel and sweet red fruit that goes so well with fall food. This one would be fantastic in the Thanksgiving wine lineup!