Winemaker Jay Somers started as an assistant to John Paul at Cameron Winery but broke off and started J. Christopher Winery in 1996. Since then he has been making distinctive Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling with great success. The house style is decidedly “Old World” and great care is taken to preserve the unique terroir of each single vineyard bottling.
In my experience, one of the most remarkable things about the J. Christopher Pinots is this odd disconnect between what you see visually and what you taste on the palate. Looking at the wine, you find that it’s very light bodied and transparent – sometimes almost looking more like a dark rosé than a proper Pinot Noir. Going off this visual cue, one might expect the wine itself to be very light, and perhaps lacking depth. This couldn’t be further from the truth! What follows is one of the most power-packed, aromatically intense wines that packs a serious punch of flavor and a massive, lengthy finish. How does one pack this much character and intensity into a wine without extracting the commensurate amount of inkiness? This is one of Jay’s secrets and one that I love to consider when sipping one of his delicious Pinot Noirs.
Jay has an exclusive contract for the fruit of the Charlie’s Vineyard which is deep in the famous swath of Jory Soil overlaid on the Southeast facing slopes of the Dundee Hills. It’s the only vineyard that has appeared in every vintage of J. Christopher’s production since 1996. I really enjoy its reductive funk, ripe cherry and raspberry fruit, mild herbaceousness, and sanguine finish courtesy of the iron-rich soil.