2017 Kelley Fox Pinot Gris Ramato 'Maresh'
Region: Dundee Hills < Willamette Valley < Oregon
Grapes: Pinot Gris
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Biodynamic farming; own-rooted vines on volcanic soil; destemmed and foot-trodden (called pigeage) by Kelley each day for 14-16 days before the wine was pressed at dryness, then racked to a concrete amphora tank where it rested until bottling, unfined/unfiltered with minimal added So2; 12.8% ABV; 159 cases
Winemaker: Kelley Fox
We can’t get enough of Kelley Fox’s wines. In December, you saw her Pinot Noir, and now we’re thrilled to get our hands on the last of her skin-macerated Pinot Gris (technically an “orange” wine, not rosé). Quick refresher on Kelley: after completing a B.S. in Psychology, with a minor in Biology and degrees in Biochemistry and Biophysics, Kelley got into the Biochem PhD program at Oregon State–yet never completed her doctorate. Instead, she made the decision to make wine, which she jumped into without formal training, learning on the job, working in the vineyards and cellars of the region. Her mentor was David Lett of The Eyrie Vineyards, one of Oregon’s organic farming pioneers. Starting in 2005, she began work as the winemaker at Scott Paul while also starting to make her own wines, starting with the 2007 vintage.
Fast forward to today, where Kelley Fox is definitely one of the under-the-radar Oregon producers worth watching, making wines that transcend the region and the stereotypes of domestic Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. Kelley’s annual production tops out at about 3,000 cases for all of her wines combined, and she doesn’t intend to go bigger. Because it is so important for her to be hands on -- not only makes the wine, but does the farming herself, down to alchemizing her own bioD potions. Then she takes all that pristine fruit and ‘guides it through its evolution in the cellar’, as she puts it, without any intervention because she wants her wines to ‘sing a song of a place and a time’. And this Pinot Gris, definitely sings the song of its place, Oregon’s Dundee Hills, one of the most uniformly volcanic places in the US, created by a tectonic up-thrust. The volcanic minerality here is palpable.
Here’s how Kelley describes the wine, a skin-macerated Pinot Gris made in the Italian ‘Ramato’ style: “It is a beautiful clear pink color and has far more complexity in the nose (roses, strawberries, and some exotic notes I can't articulate) and mouth than ordinary white Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio. It has more structure and power than the white, but drinks more like a rosé. It has a fine, silken texture and is delicious.” We couldn’t agree more. Rock on, Kelley.