2014 Nicolas-Jay, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, $65
Winery info: This is the first commercial release from a new joint venture between celebrated Burgundian winemaker Jean-Nicolas Méo, of Domaine Méo Camuzet in Vosne-Romanée (protégé of the late, great Burgundy producer, Henri Jayer) and Jay Boberg, a music and media entrepreneur and co-founder of IRS Records (and long-time wine aficionado). This winery is already generating quite a buzz—this is a great opportunity to get in at the beginning and give them a try.
Winemaker: Jean-Nicolas Méo, with Tracy Kendall, formerly enologist for Adelsheim.
Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir
Vineyard source: They sourced fruit from several vineyards throughout the Willamette Valley for optimal blending potential. Sites include Zenith Vineyard in the high-elevation Eola-Amity Hills; Momtazi Vineyard in the foothills of the cool, coastal McMinnville AVA; and Nysa Vineyard in the warm, red-soiled Dundee Hills; plus fruit from their own Bishop Creek Vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA.
Flavor profile: Utterly elegant and nuanced with beguiling layers of expressive flavor and complexity.
Production/Availability: They made 1600 cases, and our local distributor was able to get 56 six packs (28 cases). It should be available for a while, but may disappear quickly as it gets discovered.
Drinkability: Beautiful now, especially if given a gentle decanting an hour or so before serving. Or you could lay it down for six to eight years to let it develop even further.
Food Pairing: Save this one for a special meal, perhaps duck, lobster, or a succulent roast.
2015 Illahe, Estate Grüner Veltliner, $18
Winery info: Lowell Ford began growing grapes in Oregon in the 1980s, selling some of his early vintages to Knudsen-Erath, Eyrie, and Chateau Benoit. He and his wife bought Illahe Vineyard in 1999 and established their Dallas, Oregon winery in 2000. They are still the owners and winegrowers.
Winemaker: Brad Ford
Grapes: 100% Grüner Veltliner, a classic Austrian white grape. Vinified in stainless steel and acacia barrels (30%).
Vineyard source: Their estate, Illahe Vineyard, first planted in 2001. Today it encompasses 52 acres, with seven varieties, including an acre and a half of Grüner Veltliner. It is a warm site with a variety of soils, mostly sedimentary clay and loam.
Flavor profile: Aromas and flavors of pear and lime, with white pepper notes and great, stony minerality, typical of Grüner Veltliner. The acacia aging adds some zippy herbal notes.
Production/Availability: 720 cases. Still in decent supply with the distributor.
Drinkability: Any time over the next few years.
Food Pairing: Grüner is a very versatile wine. Enjoy it with anything from vegetables to seafood or Asian fare.