Oregon meet Burgundy, Burgundy meets Oregon with Nicolas Jay, the new joint-venture between former record label boss Jay Boberg and Burgundy vigneron Jean-Nicolas Méo of Domaine Méo-Camuzet in Vosne. They have known each other since 1988 when Jean-Nicolas was studying in the United States, though it was a visit to the region in 2011 that reignited Jay's interest in the region. Jay told me that together they had spent a long time seeking the right kind of terroir in which to start their project, which they finally found in Bishop Creek Vineyard, which was formerly part of the source for Jason Lett's "Black Cap" label at Eyrie. They also recruited Seattle-born Tracy Kendall, who joined us for the tasting. She was an oenologist at Adelsheim for five years, having previously worked at Torii Mor and Cristom and in a twist of fate, she is back at Adelsheim since the Nicolas Jay wines are being vinified in their winery until they get their own up and running. The vines have been converted to organic viticulture, although both Jay and Tracy are doubtful they would ever convert to biodynamics. The fruit here is 100% destemmed and pressed slowly, higher temperatures allowed during fermentation to extract color and body. Jay also told me that from the 2017 vintage, they will have some Chardonnay, from grafted over Pinot Gris vines. "We tend to have lower alcohol levels at around 13.5%," Jay told me. "In 2015 it is even lower at 12.5%. We are the first or one of the first to pick in 2014 and 2015." In these early days, the production is 1,600 cases and currently sold in seven US States. Obviously, with someone like Jean-Nicolas partnering the project, there is an element of class to these wines, harmonious and nicely poised. They are not the most complex that I came across during my days tastings through dozens of 2014s, but there are certainly grounds for some great wines in the future as they become more and more familiar with the vineyard. The pricing is relatively high for Oregon and simply by perusing this report, the ineluctable fact is that there is strong competition from established producers at a cheaper price. That said, Jay told me that the focus is really upon the Willamette Valley Pinot Noir in terms of building an audience, which apparently they have been successful in doing.
Nicolas-Jay Pinot Noir 2014
Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines 2016 – No 96
Broad, expressive and light-footed, this brims with cherry, plum, licorice and cashew flavors that keep singing on the focused finish. Drink now through 2024. 1,750 cases made. —93 Points HS
“The 2014 Pinot Noir is sourced 35% from the estate vineyard (Bishop’s Creek) and supplemented from a variety of Oregon AVAs in the Willamette Valley. It is matured for 15 months in one-third new oak. It has a ripe red cherry, kirsch and redcurrant jus scented bouquet that perhaps needs just a little more delineation. The palate is medium-bodied with a sweet entry, bright red fruit that are pure and quite caressing in texture, with quite a succulent, plush finish where I would like to see just a little more complexity come through. That said, this is a worthy debut that should give 6-8 years of drinking pleasure.” 2016 – 2024
89 Points, Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate, Jun 2016