One of the great boutique wineries in Oregon, Domaine Nicolas-Jay is a collaboration between Jean-Nicolas Méo (Domaine Méo-Camuzet) and Jay Boberg, co-founder of the music label, IRS Records. Jean-Nicolas Meo has experience working with grand crus of Burgundy and has translated that into understanding Oregon terroir. Jean-Nicolas has truly produced wines from some of the finest vineyards in Burgundy such as the Richebourg, Clos de Vougeot, Corton Clos Rognet and Echezeaux vineyards. Jay Boberg serves as cellar rat and aids assistant winemaker Tracy Kendall. The winery sources from their estate Bishop Creek Vineyard on in the Yamhill-Carlton appellation, as well as grapes from other outstanding Willamette Valley vineyards, including Nysa, Momtazi, Hyland and La Colina.
I have been quite impressed with these wines since they were first released in 2014 and I wanted to have the chance to sit down with them and sample them over a series of hours, side-by-side. What I was most impressed by was the consistency of each wine. While there were a few vintage differences, each wine showed a great combination of finesse and terroir. While clearly different than the great Pinot Noirs of Burgundy, there is a common thread of wonderful earthy terroir in each wine. Here are my notes from what was a marvelous vertical tasting of the first four vintages of this beautiful Oregon Pinot Noir.
2014 Nicolas-Jay ‘Willamette Valley’ Pinot Noir- The 2014 Nicolas Jay was sourced from the Bishop Creek and Nysa vineyards and was made by Tracy Kendall of Adelsheim fame. The wine has evolved beautifully at the five year mark, showing beautiful red raspberry, guava puree and red cherry syrup that mingle with citrus rind and smoky undertones that all collect momentum in the glass. The palate is very smooth, evoking a silky mouthfeel. Generous red fruits and traces of blood orange zest collide with the lovely earthy and flinty undertones on the attack. While marvelous now, this has both the stuffing and tension to age gracefully over the next decade or more. Drink 2019-2033- 93
2015 Nicolas-Jay ‘Willamette Valley’ Pinot Noir- Intriguingly enough, the 2015 Nicolas-Jay ‘Willamette Valley’ Pinot Noir was sourced from nearly every AVA in the Willamette Valley, including the Bishop Creek vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. The wine was made by both Jean-Nicolas Meo and Jay Boberg as the Pinot Noir was largely aged in neutral oak barrels (67%) prior to bottling and was first released in April 2017. The black fruit aromatic profile is quite noticeable rather than the prettier red fruits that are evoked in the ’14 bottling. Silky smooth on the attack, the wine shows bright red fruits that mingle with cinnamon stick, and peat moss tones that are all unveiled on the palate. The combination of freshness and weight is gorgeous right now, as this silky Pinot Noir has a long life ahead of it. Drink 2019-2033- 93
2016 Nicolas-Jay ‘Willamette Valley’ Pinot Noir- The 2016 ‘Willamette Valley’ Pinot Noir is a revelation at this stage in its development. Made by Jean-Nicolas Méo and Tracy Kendall, this outstanding Pinot Noir was largely aged in neutral oak (67%) prior to bottling in December 2016. The nose is quite marvelously perfumed with the damp earth tones giving this a real Burgundian flair, combining with dark kirsch and citrus zest tones that all take their shape in the glass. The palate unveils a silky mouthfeel and marvelous texture as bright red fruits connect with clove infused oranges as well as peat moss flavors. Marvelous now, this will only improve with time in the bottle. Drink 2019-2033- 92
2017 Nicolas-Jay ‘Willamette Valley’ Pinot Noir- The 2017 Nicolas-Jay ‘Willamette Valley’ Pinot Noir is a gorgeous new wine by this famed Willamette Valley winery. Aged in largely neutral oak, the nose evokes some wonderful freshness with bright red fruits that mingle with citrus zest and wet stone tones that mingle in the glass. The silky texture entices as ripe strawberry and guava flavors enter the fray, mixing with shades of Mandarin orange zest and earthy undertones that shine brightly on the palate. This is seriously good now and will only improve with cellaring. Compared side by side to the ’16, this wine is currently showing a touch more verve and elegance. Drink 2019-2033- 93