Nicolas-Jay is a collaboration between Jean-Nicolas Méo of Burgundy’s Domaine Méo-Camuzet and American music producer and wine enthusiast Jay Boberg. Established in 2013, the enterprise makes wines from its own fruit and fruit sourced from other high-quality growers. The partners initially used the winemaking facilities of Adelsheim and later those of Sokol Blosser. They subsequently bought some promising vineyard land and constructed a new winery. Both initiatives will create scope for improvements to what is already a hugely successful operation, which has established itself among the Willamette Valley’s finest producers.
American music producer Jay Boberg and Burgundian winemaker Jean-Nicolas Méo had been friends for over 30 years when, in ’13, they established Nicolas-Jay in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Their initial plan had been to buy grapes and run a négociant operation. But when they discovered that the property whose fruit they rated most highly was for sale, they bought it: the 7-hectare, organically farmed Bishop Creek in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA became their estate vineyard.
Nicolas-Jay’s first vintage was ’14. Today, the range includes several bottlings of Pinot Noir, notably Ensemble, a special barrel selection from the Willamette Valley blended by Jean-Nicolas Méo, and several single-vineyard wines, along with a small amount of Chardonnay. Their early vintages were a hit with consumers and critics alike, despite tiny volumes.
Nicolas-Jay obtain fruit from three sources. First is their own vineyard, Bishop Creek in Yamhill-Carlton. This steep site, with elevations ranging from 80 to 180 metres, was planted in the 1980s. There are six hectares of Pinot Noir and one hectare of Chardonnay. This fruit is the source of a single-vineyard wine.
Second, they source fruit from specific blocks within vineyards owned by other growers, notably: Momtazi in the McMinnville AVA, planted to Pinot Noir in ’97, farmed biodynamically and with volcanic soils; and Nysa in the Dundee Hills, where Nicolas-Jay’s block consists of low-yielding Pommard-clone vines planted in ’90. Both sites are used to make classy, almost Burgundian, single-vineyard wines. Others are used for Nicolas-Jay’s Willamette Valley blend.
The third source will, in due course, be their new vineyard in Yamhill-Carlton. This site features Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in three distinct sites with different aspects and soil types, all farmed organically.
The new winery gives winemaker Jean-Nicolas Méo and his associate Tracy Kendall greater control over temperature. It also provides space to keep wines in barrel for more than one vintage, which had not been possible in either of their previous facilities. The winery is operated by gravity flow, allowing for gentle fruit reception and processing.
All fruit is destemmed and fermented with natural yeasts. The Pinot Noir is aged in 30-35% new French oak; the Bishop Creek Chardonnay is aged in 20% new wood.
All of Nicolas-Jay’s estate vines are farmed organically. Most of the grapes they purchase are organic or biodynamic.