2010 J. Christopher Pinot Noir Lumiere Vineyard

Year: 2010
Appellation: Eola-Amity Hills
Country: USA - Oregon
Wine Advocate: 90-91
Red Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 13.0%
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"Issuing from two primarily east-facing sites planted with Dijon clones, and comprising a mere 175 cases, the inaugural J. Christopher 2010 Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills Lumiere shows prominent elderberry and bitter-edged huckleberry along with a faint suggestion of bitter chocolate. With impressive richness; faintly chewy but fine tannins; and (notwithstanding its cuvee name) a surprisingly sinister overall personality for its vintage, this nevertheless finishes with resonant fruit intensity, mouthwateringly saline savor, and a real sense of energy. I would expect it to perform well for at least 6-8 years.

Following international internships and five years with John Paul at Cameron, reflective and experimental-minded Jay Somers founded J. Christopher wines in 1996 with conviction in the principles of biodynamic farming and what he calls “Old World” stylistic sensibility. Meeting a deep-pocketed, multi-talented soul mate and commercial partner in Ernst Loosen of the eponymous Mosel estate, Somers now finds himself in the enviable position of presiding over a newly-constructed and superbly-equipped winery surrounded by a newly-planted former pasture dubbed Appassionata Vineyard (mixed volcanic and sedimentary) whose aspect and proximity to some of Newberg’s best sites (including David Adelsheim’s founding vineyard, not to mention the cluster a mile west on Calkins Lane) can’t help but fire even a jaded wine lover’s imagination; and the wines – given their vibrant style and on the whole extremely reasonable prices – can’t help but stimulate an appetite of more than one sort. Among many unique aspects of J. Christopher is a passion and ambition for Sauvignon Blanc, which Somers and Loosen have backed-up by planting three acres of their home vineyard’s 20 acres with that cepage, the rest being Pinot Noir including – unsurprisingly, given Loosen’s international experience and Somers’ at Cameron – highly, dare I say “colorfully,” diverse vine material including heirloom selections of both Californian and Oregonian origin. Pinot is destemmed – though future deviations from that norm are envisioned – and ferments spontaneously “which at our ambient temperatures,” notes Somers, “can take anywhere from 5-10 days.” Extraction is solely via punch-downs and the wine is pressed within a couple of days of reaching dryness; then minimally settled before going to barrel, 25% new. In the newly-dug and exceedingly cold caves, malo is taking place on a Burgundian schedule; in fact, had only recently started when I visited in early June. On occasion (such as in 2009, but not 2010) acid will be added. Alcohol is naturally around 13% on the 2010s and “even in 2009,” Somers claims that without adjusting most lots “we managed to keep everything under 14%, which was astonishing.” I tasted all of the 2010 Pinots here (save for the generic) as definitive blends shortly ahead of bottling." (WA)

Winery Notes:
“Lumiere” makes reference to the light that contributes to Eola-Amity Hills’ discernible qualities in Pinot Noir. This terroir wine is made from fruit sourced from two small vineyards; “Dubay” and “Three Angels” on Walnut Road. Silky texture and dark fruits, layered with fine tannins and perfectly balanced acidity, come together in Jay’s newest AVA Pinot Noir.