2017 vintage notes
The best-selling Gamay at the 2019 I Love Gamay festival tasting (in Portland, of which we’re a sponsor), for a reason. Bright and beautiful, electric and silky, it's one of the tastiest 2017 Willamette Valley wines we've had, including all the Pinots. A nose that's so welcoming you want to swan-dive into the glass, a bowlful of black cherries and red berries, a floral and white pepper lift, a mouthwateringly fresh finish. It moves similar to Pinot noir but with Gamay's snappy energy (the point is: don't be afraid of the Gamay!). Perfect with fresh Oregon troll-caught king salmon off the grill – in fact, my favorite red wine/salmon pairing this year. Only 120 cases made.
Gamay is the first wine from Pray Tell, the wife-husband team of Willamette Valley wine veterans Jess Arnold and Tom Caruso. They each have "day jobs" – Jess as Bergstrom's cellar master, Tom as logistics coordinator for a local importer – and will be releasing four more wines in fall of 2019 (Pinot noir and Chardonnay). Based on the strength of their Gamay, we can't wait to taste the rest!
From Jess and Tom: "The first Pray Tell release! Our 2017 Gamay Noir was sourced from two vineyards located at opposite ends of the Willamette Valley. The growing season was idyllic – with warm days and cool nights that allowed for slow and steady ripening. We harvested the grapes towards the end of October, destemmed half, and let them do their thing (fermenting naturally) until it was time to press. The wine was barreled down, aged for 10 months in neutral French oak for texture and bottled right before our wedding. The resulting wine is friendly out of the gates with fresh red fruit and white pepper, but if you give it a decant or some time to open up, it really becomes expressive with layers of flower, blue fruit, and minerality. Drink now or drink later – the structure is there and that cork is serious. Hope you enjoy!
When Tom was a kid, he helped his grandfather make wine on a city sidewalk in Philadelphia – ironically on the corner of Oregon Avenue. They would source grapes from a local farm and use a small hand crank destemmer and basket press (which he still has today). In adulthood, try as he might to find another career path, the inevitable reality sunk in when a few years into a job as a book editor,he decided to drop everything and focus on wine. Tom enrolled in a wine school where he met Jess. At the time, Jess already had a growing list of wine experience in San Francisco and the Napa Valley, and was working with the beverage program of a restaurant in NYC. After passing their exams, they realized suits and ties weren't their style and that their focus had shifted to how wine is actually made. From New York to Sonoma to the Willamette Valley, they've spent years working with some amazing winemakers and mentors. One home, puppy, wedding, and lots of harvests later, Jess and Tom started Pray Tell – a little corner of the region they love most where they manage to nurture their earnest curiosity of fermented grape juice and feed their pug."