NICOLAS-JAYUnited States, Oregon, Willamette Valley
Nicolas-Jay was created in 2014 from a 30-year friendship between Burgundian wine maker Jean-Nicolas Meo and music entrepreneur Jay Boberg. Their love of Oregon Pinot Noir brought them to the Willamette Valley where they are crafting Burgundian-style wines that are expressive, structured and incredibly delicious. Their organically farmed Bishop’s Creek vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton appellation grows Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that were our favorites from their lineup. The estate also grows grapes from other famed Willamette Vineyards such as Nysa, Momtazi, Hyland and La Colina.
We had the pleasure of sitting down with the Associate Winemaker Tracy Kendall, who walked us through her latest wines and the past several vintages. Tracy has been in Oregon making wine for about a decade and was taught by famed winemaker Dave Paige at Adelshiem. She strives to craft wines that show an old-world sensibility, with an Oregon sense of place, which she performs perfectly. The estate’s philosophy rests in their inability to ever accept the status quo but also to not reinvent the wheel every year. They don’t innovate in technology as they have seen everything in terms of what to expect in wine making, but they push themselves every single year in the vineyard to produce the most quality and delicious wine they can – year after year. All of their Pinot Noir is destemmed before fermentation as they feel that their wines already have enough structure, tannin and body without the need to add whole clusters to the fermentation process.
2017 Vintage Highlights – This high-yield vintage was also the coolest for Nicolas-Jay. Bud break happened a bit later in the season and the early summer brought a bit more heat than usual but cooled down quickly towards harvest, which made ripening a bit difficult. Leading up to harvest, a little bit of rain came through which helped increase yields and give these wines a a leaner, more Burgundian quality. 2017 could be a sleeper vintage however as the wines are aging beautifully in the bottle, and all of the wines I tasted are absolutely stunning right now.
2018 Vintage Highlights – One of the easiest and best vintages that Nicolas-Jay has experienced in Oregon, the 2018 wines have the potential to be extraordinary in a few years. The summers were warm, but they experienced very few days over 100 degrees. Rain was light, yielding smaller more concentrated berries which contained perfect sugar ripeness and high acidity. The differences between 2018 and 2017 are profound, but both vintages are outstanding for different reasons. When you taste a 2018 Nicolas-Jay, you are immediately hit with wines of power, but with incredible finesse.
2020 Vintage Highlights – What started as a beautiful and almost perfect vintage quickly fell apart with the massive forest fires that ripped through the valley right before harvest. The air quality index shot into the 700s and the smoke hung around most of the vineyards in the valley for almost 2 weeks. The difficult and unfortunate decision was made to not make any Pinot Noir for 2020. Nicolas-Jay was able to make Chardonnay however, and any Pinot Noir that they did harvest will be turned into Rosé and also a unique white Pinot Noir, which will be a first for the estate.
- Jeremy Young, Contributing Editor, International Wine Report