News Release: J. Christopher 2012 Vintage: A Dry Heat

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A hot, dry finish to the 2012 growing season yielded rich, fruit-forward wines.

(Newberg, OREGON – September 4, 2014) The 2012 growing season for J. Christopher Wines in Oregon’s Willamette Valley started off in a very promising way: normal flowering, coolish weather, and a moderate crop size. But after a warm, dry summer, the weather turned even hotter in September as harvest was approaching.

Hot winds started to dry the grapes on the vine, concentrating the fruit but also pushing the potential alcohol levels beyond what we think is ideal. This was especially problematic for J. Christopher’s dry-farmed young vines, which need several more years to develop the deep root structure that will protect them in the future.

“Fortunately, a few days of rain just before picking began helped to rehydrate the grapes and gave them the more moderate alcohol levels we prefer,” says J. Christopher Winemaker Jay Somers. “In the end, we harvested a very clean, healthy crop of beautifully ripe fruit.”

The 2012 J. Christopher Pinot Noirs are fleshy and fruit-dominant, with rich, dark fruit flavors and soft, rounded tannins. They are ripe and full like the 2009s were, but with a better, denser structure.

“These are delicious wines that will be immediately accessible to all wine lovers,” says Somers. “They don’t have the fine delineation of terroir that you get in a cooler vintage, like 2011, but these are wines that shout ‘Willamette Valley!’ with their fruity, crowd-pleasing character.”

A brief rundown on the wines:

2012 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
The Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is the flagship J. Christopher wine, representing the overall nature of the vintage in the northern Willamette Valley, rather than a specific vineyard or soil type. It is blended from excellent vineyards in four of the Willamette Valley’s AVAs: Dundee Hills (50%), Eola-Amity Hills (30%), Chehalem Mountains (10%), and Yamhill-Carlton (10%). The 2012 is definitely a wine made by the vintage. It is full and warm, with juicy, ripe fruit and a lush texture. It’s a classic example of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir from a warm vintage. As with all the J. Christopher wines, it was made with native yeast fermentation, unforced malolactic, and 18–20 months in barriques (25% new). Alcohol: 13.9%. 3,184 cases produced.

2012 Dundee Hills Cuvée Pinot Noir [AVA Terroir Series]
This terroir series cuvée is a blend of selected barrels from several excellent vineyard sites in the red Jory clay of the Dundee Hills AVA. The 2012 was sourced from three sites: La Colina, Meyer, and Charlie’s Vineyard. Rich and dark, it still shows the high-toned elegance of the Dundee Hills, with a fine mix of raspberry and rhubarb held together with a stony grip and a firm acid structure. There’s a lively edge to the wine, with fine tannins that lead to a long, sweet finish. Alcohol: 13.8%. 943 cases produced.

2012 Nuages, Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir [AVA Terroir Series]
The 2012 Nuages includes barrels from the Adams, Lia’s, and Olenik vineyards, all of which are J. Christopher neighbors on Chehalem Mountain. Deep red brick in color, the wine has a restrained, crushed fruit aroma that leads to a juicy, lush fruitiness on the palate. That fruitiness is superbly balanced by ripe tannins that give a satisfying edge to the texture. A small amount (10%) of whole-cluster fermentation was used for this wine. Alcohol: 13.7%. 570 cases produced.

2012 Lumière, Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir [AVA Terroir Series]
The fruit for this cuvée is from three vineyards in the Walnut Hill area, at the northern end of the Eola-Amity Hills AVA: Dubay, Three Angels and En Gedi. The warmer, lower-elevation Dubay vineyard gives a touch of lushness to the wine, whereas the adjacent but slightly higher-elevation Three Angels vineyard gives it a firmer structure. The 2012 has a gently enveloping fruit aroma, but with a fine mineral edge. On the palate there is a nervy tension from the fruity structure that is simultaneously weighty and lifted. The finish is long and warm. 10% whole-cluster fermentation. Alcohol: 13.8%. 563 cases produced.

2012 Sandra Adele, Dundee Hills Pinot Noir
Sandra Adele is a blend of fruit from two outstanding vineyards in the Dundee Hills AVA: Abbey Ridge and Charlie’s Vineyard. This wine shows the delicate mineral structure and floral aroma that is characteristic of the high-elevation Abbey Ridge vineyard, while also displaying the deeper, more earthy nature of Charlie’s Vineyard. The 2012 is ripe and mouth-filling, with a complex aroma of dark fruits and herbs, and wonderful harmony on the palate. Alcohol: 13.8%. 122 cases produced.

2012 Abbey Ridge Vineyard, Dundee Hills Pinot Noir
If Oregon had a vineyard classification, Abbey ridge would unquestionably top the list of “grand cru” sites. It lies high up in the Dundee Hills and produces some of the most distinctive wines in the state. From thin volcanic topsoil, this cool, high-elevation site typically yields delicate, finely floral wines with a touch of dried herbs and an engaging mineral depth. The 2012’s dusty, floral fruit is captivating, with lush juiciness, a delicate structure and a sweet finish. It’s a beautifully balanced wine that shows the elegance of this site even in a warm, ripe vintage. Alcohol 13.8%. 48 cases produced.

2012 Lia’s Vineyard, Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir
Lia’s Vineyard is one of our neighbor vineyards in the Chehalem Mountains AVA. This superb site has volcanic soil and produces wines with very pretty fruit and an elegant structure. Owner/winemaker Jay Somers calls it “the Abbey Ridge of Chehalem Mountain.” The 2012 is dark and earthy, but with brilliant, edgy fruit up top. It’s a very graceful wine for such a warm vintage, with a fine, clear structure and a lovely juiciness on the finish. Produced with 10% whole-cluster fermentation. Alcohol 13.8%. 171 cases produced.

2012 Olenik Vineyard, Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir
The Olenik vineyard is directly adjacent to Lia’s, but it is lower on the hill and has a sedimentary soil rather than the volcanic soil found up the hill in Lia’s. This is always the biggest, richest wine that J. Christopher produces, and that’s especially true in a ripe vintage like 2012. The wine is quite dark in color, full and soft in texture, and monstrously lush on the palate. Still, there is a cool juiciness on the mid-palate, followed by firm, chewy tannins, that bring structure and balance to the wine. Produced with 30% whole-cluster fermentation. Alcohol: 14.1%. 123 cases produced.


For more information, contact:

Kirk Wille (@)
Loosen Bros. USA

J. Christopher Wines in Newberg, Oregon, is a joint venture of winemakers Ernst Loosen and Jay Somers.