One of a literal handful of Oregon Pinots to buy every single vintage.
Winemaker Erin Nuccio, who is never prone to boasting about about his wines, had wide eyes and a big smile when he told us how exceptional the ’17 J is. We agree with him: it is a whole other realm within the Evesham line-up. Cuvee J is the most textural, elegant, age-worthy six barrels of the vintage from Evesham's organically farmed Le Puits Sec vineyard. It is a wine so exceptional that it should be allocated to the bottle. We're so grateful that it isn't.
If you like multidimensional, sensual, dynamic Willamette Valley Pinot noir, this wine is for you. So incredibly enticing — as is classic J, a near-mythical pairing of density and levity that tugs equally at the cerebral and the pleasure-bent parts of the brain. Each time I have another sip I'm spellbound. Like the best Js, and I'd argue, the best Pinots from anywhere, it's the perfect partnership of bright and dark, cool and sweet. Whereas I typically encourage patience with newly-released J, the '17 begins so sultry that it's impossible to resist now and yet, as it opens up with air, every year of age-worthiness is evident. Should you choose to open one tonight, you'll love it; in five or ten years, the same or more. - Marcus
94 points PinotFile: "This wine reminds me of the Le Puits Sec bottling but ramped up a notch with more noticeable drive and purpose. The array of aromas include cherry compote, dried herbs, damp earth and a whiff of teasing oak. This charming wine delights with lavish flavors of black cherry, boysenberry, spice, dried herbs including sage and mushroom. This impeccably balanced wine has a silken texture and a hi-collared demeanor on the palate. The finish is flat-out extravagant. As good as the wine is now, it will definitely benefit from more time in bottle at which time it deserves to be the centerpiece of a celebration."
94 points, Cellar Selection Wine Enthusiast: "This textured, elegant reserve sees 25% new French oak, not a lot but more than the rest of the Pinots in the winery's portfolio. Berries, dust, mocha, stone and textural highlights from the proprietary yeast all come together to weave a seamless, intriguing palate with elegance and length. It will be lovely to see how this evolves over the next decade or longer."
2015 vintage notes
One for the ages. The aromas are as enticing as it gets -- a near mythical match of buoyant and dense, everything I look for and crave in Pinot noir. Wonderfully fresh, buzzing with coiled energy, it's a restrained '15 that you can leave in your glass for a half hour, experiencing it blossom with each swirl and sniff. Like the best Js, it's the perfect partnership of bright and dark, cool and sweet. If you open it now, plan to enjoy it over a few days, stealing a glass each evening before letting it evolve for the next night. I imagine it aging for one to two decades.
2014 vintage notes
94 points Burghound: "A perfumed and highly spiced nose blends both upper and lower register aromas of plum, dark berries, cherry and a whiff of Asian-style tea. There is excellent volume and richness to the seductively textured, concentrated and powerful medium-bodied flavors that are quite firmly structured on the highly complex and hugely long finish. This is a classic rendition of Cuvée J and very clearly built-to-age. If you can find it, buy it, though do be prepared to cellar if appropriately. In a word, brilliant. 94/2024+"
2013 vintage notes
If you like multidimensional, seductive, age-worthy Pinot noir, you can do no better. The nexus between bright and dark, of cool and sweet. Beautiful right now, best when tucked away for 3-10 years. This is a showstopper wine in a showstopper vintage.
What’s the importance of “J”? I’ve heard the story many times but I asked winemaker Erin Nuccio to help with the re-telling:
“When Russ Raney founded Evesham Wood in 1986 he looked to Burgundy, and more specifically, to Henri Jayer for inspiration and direction. I consider Jayer to be Russ’s idol; he corresponded with him somewhat regularly about winemaking and very much modeled his work in the vineyard and winery after what Jayer was doing.
In 1989 Russ and Mary were having a celebratory dinner in the mobile home they lived in in the middle of Le Puits Sec Vineyard and opened a bottle of 1989 Jayer Echezeaux to celebrate the upcoming harvest. There were several winemakers there, including David Adelsheim. Moved by the texture of the Jayer, Russ wondered to what degree the yeast in the wine was responsible.
He saved the sediment from the bottle of Echezeaux and dumped it into some crushed fruit and got the fermentation going. He then innoculated a single fermenter of Temperance Hill Vineyard fruit with it. That fermenter was pressed down to three barrels and a year and a half later, he bottled a single barrel as the first vintage of Cuvée J.
Robert Parker got ahold of a bottle and gave it the highest score of any Oregon wine at the time which put Evesham Wood on the national and international wine scene. A lab then isolated the yeast from that bottle and to this day still stores it for us, which we use every year for all of Evesham Wood’s Pinot noir’s. Through the years as the blend grew, other vineyards made there way into Cuvée J, including Seven Springs and then our estate vineyard, Le Puits Sec. For the last ten years it has been a six barrel selection from Le Puits Sec.
Before Jayer passed away in 2006, Russ visited him and gave him a bottle of Evesham Wood Cuvée J.”
2011 vintage notes
I just tried this again (Monday, 4/14) and it's stunning, beginning to emerge and express the potential of its regal, elegant self. Fans of classic Pinot noir take note - this is not to be missed. I said it last year and I'll say it again: Cuvee J belongs among an elite list of Oregon Pinots - it deserves cult status. - Marcus
2010 vintage notes
Jaw-droppingly awesome. I can't put in print what I texted Erin upon first taste. This truly is an amplified version of Le Puits Sec, but it goes even further. Expressive, expansive, rounded, multi-dimensional. Crushed cherries, violets, woodspice and white pepper segue into a spectrum of red and black fruits with a beautifully developed texture. The finish coats your palate while staying vibrant and energetic, lingering with delectable fruit and subtle dried herbs. I highly recommend it - big-time! - Marcus
2008 vintage notes
Darker and burlier than Le Puits Sec, the vineyard's amazingly elegant creaminess shines through in the '08 Cuvee J. Packed with dark berry and black cherry fruit, the J adds crushed lavender, purple flowers and Asian spices to the deep mix. It was stunning with our dinner of pan-seared lamb chops, delicata squash, and warm tomato salsa. - Marcus