When we're asked to suggest a literal handful of Oregon Pinots to buy every vintage, Evesham Wood's Cuvee J is one of them. We've said it for years and I'll say it again: Cuvee J is among an elite list of Oregon Pinots. It deserves cult status. We are lucky that we don't have to fight for this wine...yet. Only 145 cases made: the most exquisite, age-worthy six barrels of the vintage from Evesham's organically farmed Le Puits Sec vineyard.
If you like multidimensional, sensual, ethereal, age-worthy Willamette Valley Pinot noir, this wine is for you. The perfect partnership of bright and dark, of cool and sweet. Aromatically very open with a silky, layered array of flavors. Right now, fresh cherries, red berries and plums. Two of my favorite culinary herbs, rosemary and sage, are woven throughout. The showy fruit conceals the hidden structure that makes this the kind of wine you can buy a case of, drink half over the coming couple years and cellar half for a decade.
An important note: while I'd never refer to a $45 wine as inexpensive, Cuvee J is underpriced compared to its peers. Try finding another Oregon winery with 30 vintages and 30 year-old vines (organic too!), where their super-limited, top Pinot noir is under $50. - Marcus
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