The longer you've followed our Pinot recommendations, the more familiar you'll be with our advice about Evesham Wood Cuvee J: it is one of a literal handful of Oregon Pinots to buy every single vintage.
But the 2018, it's better than that. It's the best Cuvee J we've tasted. It is dollar-for-dollar the best Willamette Valley Pinot noir. The 2018 is damn near perfect.
Every major wine publication should be telling you about the extraordinary 2018 Willamette Valley vintage. That 2018 produced the best ever Cuvee J—and another Pinot standout, Cameron Abbey Ridge—is not a coincidence.
But it's still a secret and that's okay. It just means that the smart Pinot fans—you and us—have greater access to the best wines of the vintage. And speaking of: no matter what comes after it, Cuvee J 2018 is one of the wines of the vintage. As always, there were only 150 cases made total, so you should absolutely sprint to get it.
Cuvee J is always the most textural Evesham Wood wine but in 2018, the weight and feel is so sensual it's spellbinding.
It's the ideal partnership of bright and dark, cool and succulent. The '18 builds on the trademark J density and adds more concentration and more balancing freshness and levity. It would be mythical if I hadn't tasted it. Twice.
Impossibly irresistible right now for its combination of sultry and cerebral, I can't wait to open another bottle this weekend and I can't wait to enjoy one in 20 years.
The most age-worthy 6 barrels of the vintage from Evesham Wood's organically farmed, old-vine, own-rooted Le Puits Sec vineyard. So exceptional that it should be allocated to the bottle. We bought ours; now it's your turn. - Marcus
2017 vintage notes
95 points Vinous, Josh Raynolds: "Highly perfumed aromas of ripe red and dark fruits, incense and potpourri, along with an exotic spice nuance and a touch of smoky minerality. Palate-staining black raspberry, cherry and spicecake flavors show sharp delineation and deepen steadily as the wine stretches out. Smoothly plays richness off elegance and finishes impressively long and appealingly sweet, with sneaky, even tannins lending shape and grip."
One of a literal handful of Oregon Pinots to buy every single vintage.
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