Melon from Oregon? Now that’s a wine that could qualify for Wine Blogging Wednesday 47, whose theme is “Brought to You by the Letter S”. ‘Cause it’s oh, so Surprising.
But no, I have another idea for WBW 47 that I will be posting later today, and for which the letter S is a much clearer sponsor.
Still. Melon de l’Oregon? Really?
Melon or Melon de Bourgogne is the default grape from which the refreshing Muscadets of the Western Loire Valley are produced. It became popular in the 17th Century, near Nantes, because it easily produced lots of rather neutral wine that Dutch distillers loved to use for their various hard-drinking products. Which is why Muscadet has a long tradition as a very light, refreshing drink. Many producers have brought their wines to another level, emphasizing the wine’s mineral character and floral character.
Which is also what small Oregon producer La Bête, mostly well-known for some well-rounded pinot noirs, has done with a very limited production (50 cases!) of Melon from a single vineyard in Yamhill County
Not unlike Muscadets, La Bête’s 2003 Melon displays a bright mineral, flinty character, along with lemon zest and floral aromas and flavors. It also shows some slight pastry notes, which in all likelihood comes from having been aged for a time on its lees, a process that develops similar flavors in champagne and cavas, among others.
But the wine also displays a roundness and weight that come from aging, surely, but also from the wine’s style and ripeness. Jon and Kay Kusy-Eliassen, who work in an approach that is not so far from biodynamic principles, also make an Aligoté that I find scrumptious and delightful, and that doesn’t scream for a good dose of cassis to become palatable as a kir, as many of Burgundy’s aligotés do. It’s much riper and well-rounded, and as surprising as the Melon. And if you haven’t tried the reds, like the solid gamay and the luscious pinots, you really, really should.