Hello friends. We have an exceptionally rare opportunity today. While the entry level bottlings from J.K. Carriere (Provacateur, Vespidae) are frequently sold in Washington, the single-vineyard bottlings rarely escape Oregon’s clutches. Considering the support we have already shown for Crowley and Cameron, I suspect there is a sizable contingent of in-the-know types within our list when it comes to these culty Oregon Pinots.
This is a special order. None of these wines are currently in Washington, and in fact, none of these wines are released yet. They’ll be released November 3, and our orders will be considered along with J.K. Carriere’s wine club. We’ll get what I believe to be a one-time shipment. I’m open to placing reorder requests, but the speed with which these bottlings typically sell out makes reorder success unlikely.
For those of you unfamiliar with J.K. Carriere, well, the best thing to do would be to watch Jim Prosser’s videos, which start informative and turn hilarious. If you prefer the written word, here’s the brief overview: Jim Prosser has serious breadth of knowledge when it comes to Pinot Noir. He worked with the grape in New Zealand (Villa Maria). He worked with the grape in Australia (Tarra Warra and T’Gallant). He worked with the grape in Burgundy (Domaine Georges Roumier). And then he came home and worked with the grape in Oregon (DDO, Chehalem, Brick House, Erath) before launching his own winery in 1999.
His time in Burgundy seems to be the most influential on his winemaking style. Now there is an important distinction to be made between reverence and reference. Trying to be reverential to Burgundy when making wine in Oregon is a fool’s errand. Soils are different; microclimates are different. But being referential to Burgundy is more interesting, and that’s what Jim does. Like Pinots from Burgundy, his tend to be highly-structured, favor earth and acid over outright fruit, and transition from awkward youths into glorious maturity.
Because of this, Jim’s 2008s (from a highly-structured vintage to begin with) are practically untouchable for another five years. But 2009 is a more exuberantly-fruited vintage, making it a compelling vintage to access Jim’s style. A few of these can provide near-term pleasure, which is rare for this portion of the J.K. Carriere portfolio.
2009 J.K. Carriere Pinot Noir Antoinette (Temperance Hill Vnyd)
Antionette is a barrel select each vintage where Jim is looking for the most feminine, the most delicate, the highest-toned lots. In 2009 this happens to be single-vineyard, as all five barrels (two new, one once-filled, two twice-filled, all French) come from the 30-year-old vines at Temperance Hill (Eola-Amity AVA). A truly funky nose (earth, bacon fat, cracked pepper) reminded me of Syrah aromatics from the rocks in Walla Walla. But on the palate, this can be nothing but Pinot Noir, with an earthy core, and excellent depth and precision to the red fruit.
Winery notes (I don’t usually include these, but in this case, they are eerily accurate): “The wine is translucent cherry in color, with a nose of candied cherry, spice, smoke, oil-cured olives, soy sauce and dusty strawberries. Medium weight on the palate, it shows flavors of strawberry taffy, PEZ and cherry compote with nice grip. The wine fairly cuts the divide of sweet and sour, and will continue to further complex with time.” 123 cases produced.
2009 J.K. Carriere Pinot Noir Anderson Family Vineyard
From dry-farmed, 20-year-old Dijon clone grapes in the Dundee Hills, this was put into one new French barrel and three neutral. For me, this had a floral/mineral aromatic character that I found deeply compelling, and I returned to smell this over and over again. Nearly as high-toned as the Antoinette, and perhaps the most currently-accessible of the four.
Winery notes: “This wine is translucent cherry brick in color with a surprisingly evolved nose that opens to passion fruit, iron, orange, beautiful/sexy musk and brown spice. In mouth it transitions to rich ripe cherry-plum, blueberry and mocha with grilled game overtones. Overall it presents as round, medium weight and medium-light grip with a seamless structure that persists.” 97 cases produced.
2009 J.K. Carriere Pinot Noir Gemini Vineyard
From a block of Pommard-clone Pinot Noir planted in 1995 in the Chehalem Mountains AVA, this is the most limited of today’s offerings, with just two-and-a-half barrels produced. It’s a pure, focused, laser beam of cherry pit right now, and it moves us into the more tannin-structured section of the portfolio. This is one that has serious potential to gain complexity if you can resist its youthful charms.
Winery notes: “Rich garnet in color, this Pinot noir smells of a cherry-reduction sauce, resin and vanilla. The second hit is effusive fresh cherry-raspberry on a background of meaty sweet oak. The palate is perfectly ripe Bing cherry, mouthwatering melon and slight graham. Structurally it’s full and mouth-coating, with medium weight and medium plus grip. A great food wine.” 63 cases produced.
2009 J.K. Carriere Pinot Noir Shea Vineyard
In a red-fruited family, this is the black(-fruited) sheep. From the Willakenzie soils of Dick Shea’s famous vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton District, this yielded six barrels (two new, two twice-filled, two neutral) of wine. Dark and brooding, this is like the best slice of blackberry pie you’ve ever eaten.
Winery notes: “Deep, deep red in color it delivers a reserved nose of savory smoke, ultra ripe cherry-blackberry, resin and cracked black pepper. It roams the palate like a sweet, plush, late summer blue-blackberry pie, with savory cracklings on the side. The wine’s weighty frame is matched by good grip and a seamless structure that keeps it lithe, considering how substantial.” 144 cases produced.
Please mix and match as you see fit up to a *total* of 8 bottles (a 4-pack containing a single bottle of each would make quite a holiday gift for a Pinotphile), and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. As I mentioned, these will be special-ordered from the winery, and they should arrive during the first week of November, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping.