J. Christopher

Jay & Ronda Somers, Owners

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Country of Origin: USA
Location: Chehalem Mountains, Willamette Valley
People: Jay Somers & Ronda Newell, Owners | Jay Somers, Winemaker
Viticulture: Practicing Organic

Items

J. Christopher 2015 Riesling, Medici Vineyard, Chehalem Mountains Login In Stock
J. Christopher 2015 Sauvignon Blanc, Willamette Valley Login In Stock
J. Christopher 2016 'Cristo Irresisto' Oregon Pink Wine Login In Stock
J. Christopher 2009 'Appassionata' Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills Login In Stock
J. Christopher 2013 'Dundee Hills Cuvée' Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills Login WA 89 W&S 91 In Stock
J. Christopher 2014 'Lumiere' Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills Login WE 92 AG 92 <1 Case
J. Christopher 2014 Pinot Noir, Charlie's Vineyard, Dundee Hills Login AG 93 In Stock
J. Christopher 2014 Pinot Noir, Lia's Vineyard, Chehalem Mountains Login AG 92 In Stock
J. Christopher 2014 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley Login In Stock



Media Links
Grape Collective: Jay Somers of J. Christopher
The New York Times: 12 Everyday Bottles for Wine Lovers
Wine Spectator: The World's Largest Category of Fine Wines? They're UTR
Los Angeles Times: Wine Review - J. Christopher Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

Social Media

Twitter:@JChrisWines
J. Christopher Facebook

Jay Christopher Somers wanted to be a rock star. As the 4-year-old Jay listened over and over to John Fogarty’s wailing guitar solo in “Heard it Through the Grapevine,” he knew that’s what he wanted to do. And yet, rooted somewhere in that song, another message planted itself in his subconscious, something about grape vines.

Jay eventually did get a guitar — today he has quite a collection — and learned to play with great skill. In terms of careers, however, he did what any college grad with a degree in philosophy would do: he made beer. After several years as a brewer for McMenamins, he met a beautiful woman named Ronda. Ronda liked Jay, but didn’t care for beer. Making two of the best decisions of his life, Jay married Ronda and got out of the beer business, deciding to focus, instead, on his latest passion: wine.

In the years leading up to the launch of his own winery, Jay had the great fortune to work with Don Kautzner at Adelsheim Vineyard in Oregon, Neil McCallum at Dry Creek Vineyard in New Zealand, and John Paul at Cameron Winery in Oregon. From Don, he learned that it was possible to make Burgundian-style Pinots in Oregon. Through Neil, he gained a passion for white wines. And in John, he found a lifelong friend and mentor. Jay bottled his first J. Christopher vintage in 1996, using the Cameron facility and fruit purchased from the neighboring Charlie’s vineyard. (Side note: Jay is the first and only winemaker ever to make wine from this excellent vineyard.)

In 2010, Jay Somers cemented his bond with the Old World by forming a partnership with famed German winemaker Ernst Loosen. Ernie and Jay’s friendship formed over a strong passion for Pinot Noir. Working together to produce Pinot Noirs that combined Old World and New World ideas seemed natural. Together, they purchased a beautiful 40-acre property on Chehalem Mountain in Newberg, Oregon. The property is now home to the J. Christopher winery, and the Appassionata vineyard, their first estate vineyard.

In addition to producing Oregon Pinot Noir using the traditional methods of Burgundy, J. Christopher is also one of the few wineries in Oregon to produce Sauvignon Blanc, modeled after the great wines of Sancerre. The philosophy at J. Christopher is to produce wines in an Old World style that emphasizes focus, length and balance. As Jay puts it, “We do not make fruit bombs. We want wines that have a fine balance of fruit, acidity and texture. We want wines that give you more than just a big mid-palate blast —wines that are complete.” The key to this, Jay firmly believes, is patient winemaking — it is vital not to rush things and allow the wines to develop naturally. One impor¬tant example: Jay would never heat up the cellar to induce malolactic fermentation in his Pinot Noir. This is a New World technique done to facilitate earlier bottling, but Jay feels it is damaging to the wine’s texture and balance. He wants the wines to evolve at their own pace, with minimum intervention.

Jay is also a member of The Deep Roots Coalition (DRC), which is an advocacy group for the production of wine sourced exclusively from non-irrigated vineyards. The wineries in this group share a vision regarding viticulture, winemaking and long-term viability of Oregon wine. They feel that vineyards must be dry-farmed, and that it is the non-irrigated vines that work hardest to produce fruit that maximizes the true terroir. With fruit sources and skill that rival the best of Oregon, Jay Somers is a winemaker to watch.

Rated Top 100 American Wineries of the Year by Wine & Spirits 11/30/2013

Wine Advocate 2012
"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."

Reviews

  • J. Christopher 2013 'Dundee Hills Cuvée' Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills
    The Wine Advocate
    Rating: 89 (4/1/2016)

    The 2013 Dundee Hills Cuvée Pinot Noir was cropped at 2.5 tons per acre between September 27 and October 4, spending 18 months in barriques (25% new oak). It has a lifted nose of red berry fruit, briary and rose petal scents mixed with damp undergrowth, all nicely defined. The palate is well balanced with crisp acidity, bright red cherry and strawberry fruit, elegant and nicely poised all the way to the finish. This is a delightful Pinot from Jay Somers.
  • J. Christopher 2014 Pinot Noir, Lia's Vineyard, Chehalem Mountains
    Vinous
    Rating: 92 (12/15/2016)

    Lurid red. Highly perfumed black raspberry, cherry cola and floral scents are complemented by hints of white pepper and cola, and a mineral element adds nerve and lift. Sappy, deeply concentrated but lively red fruit liqueur, mocha and floral pastille flavors are accented by a touch of allspice on the back half. Closes silky, sweet and very long, delivering impressive clarity and smooth tannins that fade slowly into the juicy fruit.
  • J. Christopher 2014 Pinot Noir, Charlie's Vineyard, Dundee Hills
    Vinous
    Rating: 93 (12/15/2016)

    Vivid red. Ripe red berries, cherry cola, musky earth and potpourri on the deeply perfumed nose. Smooth and sweet on entry, then more taut in the midpalate, offering sharply focused bitter cherry and black raspberry flavors and subtle hints of vanilla and spicecake. A smoky nuance emerges with air and carries through an impressively long, gently tannic finish, which echoes the floral note.
  • J. Christopher 2013 'Dundee Hills Cuvée' Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills
    Wine & Spirits
    Rating: 91 (3/1/2017)

    (Year's Best US Pinot Noir) The pure red-fruited drive of Dundee Hills Pinot comes through in this fresh, generous 2013, lent complexity by some pipe-tobacco spiciness and dusty mineral falvor. It's simple, but irresistible. For pork loin.
  • J. Christopher 2014 'Lumiere' Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills
    Wine Enthusiast
    Rating: 92 (6/1/2017)

    (Editors' Choice) This juicy wine feels substantial, with a concentrated palate of blueberry and blackberry fruit. It's got grip and detail, with threads of coffee grounds and smoke. It finishes with a hint of metallic earth. All is in balance, and the highlights are gently applied.
  • J. Christopher 2014 'Lumiere' Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills
    Vinous
    Rating: 92 (12/1/2016)

    Powerful aromas of cherry cola and black raspberry pick up hints of smoky Indian spices and woodsmoke in the glass. Sappy and concentrated; gentle acidity provides lift and definition to bitter cherry and dark berry flavors. Delivers very good depth and power, in the style of this vintage, offering solid closing punch and length and dusty tannins that sneak in late.