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J.K. Carriere Gemini Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011

Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley, Oregon
  • RP92
12.5% ABV
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12.5% ABV

Winemaker Notes

This Pinot is colored deep cherry red and throws the light. It opens on cherry and spice and then moves red, resinous and mineral on the nose. Raspberry, cherry and red plum show as prominent fruits. Dried herbs, tarragon, black pepper and a touch of soy skate across the palate. Like a serious bike frame, it delivers structured and substantial beauty without clunkiness or outsize weight.

Critical Acclaim

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RP 92
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Just his two best barrels (one new, one once-used) from dry-farmed Pommard Selection fruit in a block shared with Ponzi informed Prosser’s 2011 Pinot Noir Gemini Vineyard. Strikingly scented with saffron and sea breeze as well as more predictable fresh cherry, this combines infectious juiciness and a saliva-drawing saline tang on a lean yet polished palate, leading to a mouthwatering, mineral-charged and almost viscerally stimulating finish. It’s going to be exciting stuff to follow for at least the next decade, and in light of my early impression, I was surprised to hear Prosser claim, "Pinot from this vineyard is always especially shy after you assemble and bottle it and needs time in bottle to show its personality." I can, however, understand why he says that personality is one of considerable power, something he attributes in significant part to this site’s Laurelwood soil.
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J.K. Carriere

J.K. Carriere

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J.K. Carriere, Willamette Valley, Oregon
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Meet owner and winemaker Jim Prosser. He grew up east of the Cascade Mountain Range in Oregon in a sleepy little skiing and timber town called Bend where you'll find plenty of sunshine and sagebrush. Instilled with a strong work ethic, compliments of the family hardware store, Jim got a degree from Oregon State before entrenching himself in the corporate world of Xerox and commercial real estate. He spent time in Europe, lived in Lithuania as a business advisor for the Peace Corps, climbed in Pakistan, traveled five continents, wound down a family business, sold Christmas trees, and cycled the United States before being seduced... by the elusiveness of Pinot Noir.

Jim has come to understand Pinot noir from the messy grape cellar end of things and learned the trade by working for eight great producers in four countries including: Erath, Domaine Drouhin, Brick House and Chehalem in Oregon; Villa Maria in New Zealand; Tarra Warra and T'Gallant in Australia; and Domaine Georges Roumier in Burgundy. These are his friends and they have provided his foundation.

In 1999, he established his own winery, sourced good grapes and started making wine as J.K. Carriere, the combined names of his grandfathers. From the start J.K. Carriere wines have received critical acclaim. Jim will tell you his success stems from great vineyards, focused winemaking and the willingness to go right through the middle of the work. He makes primarily Pinot noir, producing classic, vivid and ageable wines with fruit on the first uptake, movement on the palate and elegance throughout. Jim's intent is to astonish you, intentionally spark you, and give you every reason to share that experience with someone else. In fact, this is his ruthless pursuit.

Willamette Valley

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One of Pinot Noir’s most successful New World outposts, the Willamette Valley is the largest and most important AVA in Oregon. With a temperate climate moderated by a Pacific Ocean influence, it is perfect for cool-climate viticulture—warm and dry summers allow for steady, even ripening, and frost is rarely a risk during spring and even winter. Mountain ranges bordering three sides of the valley, particularly the Chehalem Mountains, provide the option for higher-elevation, cooler vineyard sites. The three prominent soil types here create significant differences in wine styles between vineyards and sub-AVAs. The iron-rich, basalt-based Jory volcanic soils found commonly in the Dundee Hills are rich in clay and hold water well; the chalky, sedimentary soils of Ribbon Ridge, Yamhill-Carlton, and McMinnville encourage complex root systems as vines struggle to search for water and minerals. The silty loess found in the Chehalem Mountains, somewhere in between the other two in texture, is fertile and well-draining but erodes easily, creating challenges for growers but necessitating careful vineyard management.

The celebrated Pinot Noir of the Willamette Valley typically offers supple red fruit, especially cranberry, without the powerful punch often packed by its California counterparts. Elegance is paramount here, and fruit flavors are balanced by forest floor, wild mushroom, and dried herbs—much more in line with Burgundian examples of the variety. Chardonnay too takes its inspiration from the French motherland, focusing on tart, crisp fruit and minerality, rarely relying upon heavy new oak. Pinot Gris here is fleshy and bright, and Riesling is dry, aromatic, and citrus-focused.

Pinot Noir

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One of the most difficult yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is commonly referred to by winemakers as the “heartbreak grape.” However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. More reflective than most varieties of the land on which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality, and demands care in the vineyard and lots of attention in the winery. It is an important component of Champagne and the only variety permitted in red Burgundy. Pinot Noir enjoys immense popularity internationally, most notably in Oregon, California, and New Zealand.

In the Glass

Pinot Noir Is all about red fruit—strawberry, raspberry, and cherry. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and lively acidity. It ranges in body from very light to the heavier side of medium, typically landing somewhere in the middle—giving it extensive possibilities for food pairing. With age (of which the best examples can handle an astounding amount), it can develop hauntingly beautiful characteristics of fresh earth, autumn leaves, and truffles.

Perfect Pairings

Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of pink-fleshed fish like salmon, ocean trout, and tuna. Its mild mannered tannins don’t fight with spicy food, and give it enough structure to pair with all sorts of poultry—chicken, quail, and especially duck. As the namesake wine of Boeuf Bourguignon, it can even match with heavier fare. Pinot Noir is also very vegetarian-friendly—most notably with any dish that features mushrooms.

Sommelier Secret

Pinot Noir is dangerously drinkable, highly addictive, and has a bad habit of emptying the wallet. Look for affordable but still delicious examples from Germany (as Spätburgunder), Italy (as Pinot Nero), Chile, New Zealand, and France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions.

RVLRIJK11PNG1_2011 Item# 141718