2017 Nicolas-Jay, Pinot Noir, Own-Rooted, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
I’ve been excited to follow the progress of Nicolas-Jay, the Nicolas stands for famous Burgundy producer Jean-Nicolas Méo-Camuzet, and their 53-acre Dundee Hills Estate, on classic volcanic Jory soils, which they planted and farm with biodynamic methods, plus Nicolas-Jay has some old and organic vineyards to work with at their Bishop Creek Vineyard, that is on the sedimentary soils of the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. That said, this gorgeous and deeply flavored Own-Rooted Pinot Noir is a special bottling that comes from three old un-grafted and own-rooted vineyards, which the winery calls legacy Willamette Valley sites that pedigree and local history with every harvest here, they include a range of the valley’s soils and exposures and each year provides a very different set of characteristics with this 2017 having loads of fruit intensity and heavenly aromatics. The palate is lush, satiny and luxurious, similar to how the Méo-Camuzet Burgs feel, with concentrated black cherry, plum, fig, raspberry and dried cranberry fruits, along with ripe tannin, cola bean, sweet cedar, mineral tones, rose petals, baking spices, including cinnamon and shaved vanilla and orange tea notes. The 2017 Own-Rooted Pinot saw a native yeast, all de-stemmed, fermentation with gentle traditional maceration and pilage before being pressed to barrel, with about 50% new French oak being used. The wine was matured in oak for about 18 months and then bottled unfiltered, making for a very impactful Pinot Noir that impresses for its purity and complexity, gaining a bit off sultry earthiness and light savory notes with air.
Meo-Camuzet’s Oregon project, Nicolas-Jay, which I first tried with their 2014, is a partnership between famed Burgundy vigneron Jean-Nicolas Meo, of Domaine Meo-Camuzet, one of my favorites, renowned for wines like his Clos de Vougeot and his Vosne-Romanee bottlings, and the music and media mogul Jay Boberg, who co-founded IRS Records, was president of MCA/Universal Music and now heads Isolation Networks-INgrooves. The Domaine Nicolas-Jay owns a vineyard, Bishop’s Creek and sources from top growers in the Willamette as they build this label, I would think after this first success they’ll be around a long time and have more of their own vines. The other part of this story that shouldn’t be overlooked, is the work and achievement of associate winemaker Tracy Kendall, a young winemaker on the rise, coming from a three year stint as enologist at Adelsheim Vineyard, where she really was making some great stuff before joining up with Jean-Nicolas, as well as working harvests at Vasse Felix in Western Australia, Serisin in New Zealand as well as Kiwi Pinot specialist Felton Road. As I said about the 2014, the Nicolas Jay wines have a Burgundian touch and feel, but are all Oregon in character close to what you’d expect from top producers like Beaux Freres, Domaine Drouhin, Brick House and others, don’t miss a chance to get a few bottles, and while this Pinot is lovely now, it should evolve nicely over the next 3 to 5 years. The Own-Rooted Pinot highlights that quality of the vineyards and the vintage, especially the Hyland Vineyard, the oldest in the McMinnville AVA, that sits atop a hillside looking over the Van Duzer Corridor, and its 45 year old vines, that the winery says supply’s a brilliant tension in this wine, while the other sites fill out the body here, it is a wine to look for.
($75 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive