DOMAINE NICOLAS-JAY, Willamette Valley
A collaboration between Jean-Nicolas Méo (Domaine Méo-Camuzet) and Jay Boberg (former President of MCA Music and co-founder with Miles Copeland of IRS Records), this is not such an odd couple as it may first appear.
Jean-Nicolas is one of Burgundy's most esteemed vignerons, mentored by Henri Jayer, and Jay has been a serious student of wine for 3 decades. They met in Philedelphia in the late '80s, through Jay's sister who was a college friend of Jean-Nicolas. In the '90s Jay owned a vineyard in Napa, selling most of the fruit, but also making a little wine. Jean-Nicolas has been at the helm of his family's estate since 1989. Tracy Kendall is associate winemaker, scoring perhaps the most coveted job in the Oregon wine industry. A Washington native, she has experience in New Zealand & Australia in addition to leading Oregon wineries.
Fast forward to 2012, and the partners chose Oregon for a project together. In 2014, they purchased the Bishop Creek Vineyard, near Yamhill, as the heart of Nicolas-Jay. Planted in 1988-89, the 13.5 acre vineyard is farmed organically, and impressively, the vines are own-rooted (ungrafted). They also have access to small blocks of the biodynamically-farmed Momtazi Vineyard near McMinnville, and the low-yiedling, own-rooted Pommard clones of the Nysa Vineyard in the Dundee Hlls. In all, a half dozen of the most prestigious vineyards in the Willamette Valley contribute fruit to Nicolas-Jay. The single-vineyard bottlings are made in excruciatingly small quantites (<100 cases). Total production has not yet reached 3,000 cases.
These are very early days for Nicolas-Jay. 2014 was the first vintage. The partners are developing additional vineyards – perhaps we'll eventually see some Chardonnay – and planning to build their own winery on one of these sites in time for the 2019 harvest.