Cristom Jessie Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017
The Jessie Vineyard, named for winegrower-owner Tom Gerrie’s great-grandmother Jessie Summers, was established in 1994 after the Gerrie family saw great potential in planting a steep, east-facing hillside. Ranging in elevation from 320 ft to 550 ft (98 m to 168 m), this 11.53 acre (4.67 hectare) site is one of the steepest in Oregon, and the most challenging to farm on the Cristom Estate.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
A very distinctive nose with a wild array of red berries and cherries and a thread of blue fruit, too. There’s a dried wild-rose perfume and a violet-like thread with subtle, herbal-based notes. It’s a moving target in the glass with incredible complexity. This has a gift of revelation. The palate has a very assertive edge with a powerful core of intense tannins that carry a spicy thread of rich dark cherries and dark plums in a defined, savory and athletic stance. A star of the vintage. Drink over the next decade or more.
Bright red. Intense black raspberry, cherry, exotic spice and floral pastille scents are given depth by building cola and licorice notes. Offers palate-staining red and dark berry flavors that show excellent clarity and energy thanks to a spine of smoky minerality. Expands steadily with air and picks up a smoky quality that carries through an impressively long, dark berry -driven finish.
Like a Highland single malt, this leads with scents of peat and pepper. The flavors fall deftly between plum, black cherry and savor, with a suave texture that belies a granular intensity, succulent and energetic for veal marsala.
The 2017 Pinot Noir Jessie Vineyard was made with 51% whole clusters and aged 18 months in 53% new French oak. It has a medium ruby color with scents of tar, crushed black cherries, black currants, cured meats, peppercorn, licorice, earth and potpourri. The palate is medium-bodied, silky, intense and layered with a long, nuanced finish. This is a more serious style and will benefit from another couple of years in bottle. Rating: 92+
Nuanced and fine raspberry, redcurrant and cherry fruit with some cherry blossom finesse. Black liquorice and earthy tobacco characters. Very classy.
A tangle of raspberry, cherry and orange fruit flavors, this young wine may benefit from another year or two of bottle age. Roughly half was whole-cluster fermented, and the wine spent 18 months in half new French oak. A sharply astringent finish wraps it up.
Cristom Vineyards is a family-owned and operated winery that has established itself as a top producer of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the Eola-Amity Hills district of Oregon's Willamette Valley. Second-generation proprietor Tom Gerrie leads the production team, which includes long time winemaker Steve Doerner and recently arrived vineyard manager & winemaker Daniel Estrin. Each bring experience from working at top Pinot/Chardonnay producers in California: Doerner from Calera and Estrin from Littorai. Tom’s parents, Paul and Eileen Gerrie, founded the winery in 1992.
The estate is divided into five single vineyards: Jessie, Eileen, Marjorie, and Louise (all named for Matriarchs in the Gerrie family); and the newly added Paul Gerrie vineyard, acquired in 2012. There are 95 acres on vine throughout the 240-acre property. The majority vineyards are planted at a high density of around 2,300 vines per acre and heavily cropped to produce about 2 tons of fruit per acre.
Cristom farms its estate vineyards according to the biodynamic practices originated by Rudolph Steiner. In 2017 Tom began to implement biodynamic principles to bring the true expression of the vineyard into its wines. Cristom has been a leader in natural winemaking practices, including native yeast and an early pioneer of whole-cluster fermentation in the US. The vineyards and winery are Certified Sustainable by the Oregon LIVE program (Low Input Viticulture and Enology).
Vintage after vintage, Cristom produces top-quality wines, no matter how easy or challenging the elements make it. This consistency is a testament to the deep knowledge of the vineyard, the respect for the land, and a light touch in the cellar. Recognized globally as a leading producer in the beloved Willamette Valley, their wines continue to be a unique blend of tradition, modernity and finesse.
Running north to south, adjacent to the Willamette River, the Eola-Amity Hills AVA has shallow and well-drained soils created from ancient lava flows (called Jory), marine sediments, rocks and alluvial deposits. These soils force vine roots to dig deep, producing small grapes with great concentration.
Like in the McMinnville sub-AVA, cold Pacific air streams in via the Van Duzer Corridor and assists the maintenance of higher acidity in its grapes. This great concentration, combined with marked acidity, give the Eola-Amity Hills wines—namely Pinot noir—their distinct character. While the region covers 40,000 acres, no more than 1,400 acres are covered in vine.
Thin-skinned, finicky and temperamental, Pinot Noir is also one of the most rewarding grapes to grow and remains a labor of love for some of the greatest vignerons in Burgundy. Fairly adaptable but highly reflective of the environment in which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate and requires low yields to achieve high quality. Outside of France, outstanding examples come from in Oregon, California and throughout specific locations in wine-producing world. Somm Secret—André Tchelistcheff, California’s most influential post-Prohibition winemaker decidedly stayed away from the grape, claiming “God made Cabernet. The Devil made Pinot Noir.”