2005 J.K. Carriere, Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir
Before starting J.K. Carriere, winemaker Jim Prosser spent time in the corporate world of commercial real estate, lived in Lithuania as a business advisor for the Peace Corps, climbed in Pakistan, cycled the U.S., and even sold Christmas trees. Then he was seduced by Pinot Noir. And after working with eight great producers in four countries (in Burgundy, New Zealand, Australia and Oregon) he founded his own winery in 1999. J.K. Carriere is located on Parrett Mountain just east of Newberg. The fruit for this Pinot comes from Shea Vineyards, in the Yamhill-Carlton district, planted in Willakenzie soil. The 2005 vintage was classic, with lower temperatures and smaller yields, providing the kind of structure and finesse that is usually only achieved in cool-climate viticultural zones, like Burgundy, New Zealand, and of course, Oregon. Jim strives for grace over power in his wines and his 2005 Shea Vineyard Pinot has a subtle nose, beautiful structure, and wonderful dark fruit on the palate. He made only 98 cases and it has been sold out for a while. Our distributor just happened to find 10 bottles in the warehouse, and we were delighted to take them all off his hands. So we have a tiny bit left, at $55, reduced from $65. Already with some bottle age, it should continue to develop for another five years or more, if you can wait. (And the bee? Jim is severely allergic to wasps and has nearly been killed by their stings; hence their place of honor on his label.)
2008 Ayres Vineyard, Lewis Rogers Lane, Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir
Ribbon Ridge, a sub-appellation of the Chehalem Mountains AVA, is the smallest AVA in Oregon, and Ayres is one of only seven wineries located there (along with Beaux Freres, Patricia Green, and Brickhouse). As with the Shea Vineyard above, this is an area of sedimentary Willakenzie soil: deep and well-drained and with low fertility—perfect for growing high-quality wine grapes. The fruit for this wine comes specifically from the Lewis Rogers Lane Vineyard, which surrounds winemaker Brad McLeroy’s house—on Lewis Rogers Lane, of course. Brad is considered one of Oregon’s rising stars. After working as cellarmaster at Domaine Drouhin under the direction of Veronique Drouhin, he became full time winemaker at Ayres in 2005. He feels that Ribbon Ridge fruit tends to have an underlying cinnamon quality to it, and his 2008 Lewis Rogers Lane does have a nice bit of spice on the nose, along with soft tannins and dark berries and brambles. Still somewhat young, this Pinot could use a few years of cellaring (or a good decanting) to fully bring out its complexity. It is $43 and is already sold out at the winery. We have a couple of bottles left in the shop.