Terroir-focused wines from Oregon’s Willamette Valley
Located in the Chehalem Mountains AVA, in Oregon’s Northern Willamette Valley, the J. Christopher winery focuses on Pinot Noir made using the traditional methods of the Old World. Owned by renowned Mosel winegrower, Ernst “Erni” Loosen (owner of the Dr. Loosen estate), the wines are hand-crafted in small lots and are sourced from excellent and well-managed vineyards in the Willamette Valley.
The Bedrock level is the foundation of the winemaking at J. Christopher. These wines are expressive representations of
their variety, their appellations, the vintage, and our Old World approach to winemaking.
J. Christopher Chardonnay, Cuvée Lunatique (Willamette Valley)
The Cuvée Lunatique is a fresh and clean Chardonnay that is made in the style of Chablis. To preserve its bright fruit and crisp structure, it is fermented and matured primarily in stainless steel and there is no malolactic fermentation. The name came about because when the winery first got the idea to produce a no oak/no malo Chardonnay, some people thought they were were lunatics. But its growing popularity in the Portland market proves that they weren't so crazy after all.
J. Christopher Pinot Noir, Basalte (Chehalem Mountains)
The new Basalte bottling is from vineyards in our home AVA: Chehalem Mountains. It is sourced from our own Appassionata estate vineyard, the Medici Vineyard, which we farm, and our neighbors at Lia’s Vineyard. The Chehalem Mountains are geologically complex and diverse, formed over millennia by lava flows, wind-blown silt (loess), and uplifted sedimentary seabeds. Our vineyards have the extremely rocky volcanic basalt soils that lend themselves to full-bodied, firmly structured wines.
This premium tier is the result of careful selection of exceptional barrels from certain favorite vineyards. To reduce SKUs and simplify the line-up, the Volcanique name is now being used for the former “Dundee Hills Cuvée” special-selection.
J. Christopher Chardonnay, Sol et Soleil (Willamette Valley)
New to the J. Christopher range of wines, the “Sol et Soliel” Chardonnay was fermented in large (600-liter) oak casks, where it rested on the lees for nearly two years. The fruit was sourced from vineyards in two sub-AVAs of the Willamette Valley: our neighboring Vidon Vineyard here in the Chehalem Mountains, and Yamhill Vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. With a rich, lifted aroma and a lush, mineral-infused embrace of the palate, the wine celebrates the stony soils and sunny ripeness that Chardonnay can achieve in our corner of Oregon.
J. Christopher Pinot Noir, Volcanique (Dundee Hills)
The new Volcanique bottling is sourced from our favorite volcanic soil vineyards in the Dundee Hills AVA. Home to the first Pinot Noir vines ever planted in Oregon, the Dundee Hills are iconic and established the Willamette Valley as a serious wine region. The deep, well-drained, volcanic Jory clay soil gives us beautifully savory wines with purity and a finely focused structure.
J. Christopher Pinot Noir, Lumière (Eola-Amity Hills, Special Selection)
Two of the predominant influences on the style of the wines from the Eola Hills are the shallow soils and the cool ocean winds that come through the Coast Range via the Van Duzer Corridor. This lowers temperatures dramatically, especially during late summer afternoons, which helps to retain firm acidity in the fruit. The fruit for this cuvée is from three vineyards in the Walnut Hill area, at the northern end of the Eola-Amity Hills AVA: Dubay, Three Angels and Hirkamp.
These are small-lot selections of the very finest barrels from the Estate vineyard and from superb grower partners.
J. Christopher Pinot Noir, Estate Vineyard “Rock Blocks” (Chehalem Mountains)
This is a three-barrel selection from our 22-acre estate Appassionata Vineyard, which surrounds the winery. We have a great diversity of soil types and clones, giving us many options for the blending palette. This edition is a blend of fruit from the rockiest parts of the vineyard, which has thin volcanic clay topsoil over fractured basalt bedrock. It’s amazing to see how this very rocky soil is reflected in the firm structure, dark, brambly fruit and forceful texture of the wine. That distinctive, stony character is why we decided to do this special cuvée.
J. Christopher Pinot Noir, Medici Vineyard (Chehalem Mountains)
The Medici vineyard is situated on the south-facing Chehalem Mountain slope, just a few miles east of the J. Christopher winery. The oldest blocks were planted in 1976, producing lovely, distinctive Pinot Noir and Riesling fruit. We took over the farming in 2015 and immediately converted it to organic viticulture. The old vines bring complexity and layers of minerality, with less of an emphasis on overt fruitiness, making this an ideal site for our style of winemaking.
J. Christopher Pinot Noir, Bella Vida Vineyard (Dundee Hills)
The Bella Vida vineyard is one of our favorite sites in the heart of the Dundee Hills. With its deep red Jory clay and its stunning view of the Willamette Valley, this vineyard consistently produces exceptional fruit that captures the essence of this beautiful place on earth. The 2017 has the delicacy and fine fruitiness that are characteristic of these hills. It’s a wine that emphasizes finesse over power, with a superb acid structure that will give it great ageability.
J. Christopher Pinot Noir, Bieze Vineyard (Eola-Amity Hills)
The Bieze vineyard sits high up in the Eola Hills, where it benefits from cooling breezes from the west that flow nightly through the Van Duzer Corridor, a break in the Coast Range. This allows for longer hang time, as the grapes ripen more slowly, but retain superb acidity. Pommard and Dijon 667 are grown here in soils formed from layers of volcanic basalt. The 2017 has a pronounced aroma of ripe, red fruits, with a gently persistent palate and a harmonious structure.
J. Christopher Sauvignon Blanc, Über-Sauvignon (Willamette Valley)
Über-Sauvignon is a single-vineyard Sauvignon Blanc from the Willamette Valley’s excellent Croft vineyard. Mineral-driven aromas, with bracing acidity and a refined texture, make this one of the most interesting wines that J. Christopher produces.
The name “Appassionata” was inspired by the famous piano sonata of Beethoven, and reflects our deep love for the land and the wine it produces. We use the name for our estate vineyard, but it’s also an extra-special label for our finest selection of Pinot Noir. Each vintage of the Pinot Noir is not released until Erni Loosen feels it is ready to drink, usually 10 years after the vintage. In 2017, we also started producing an Appassionata Riesling, which is made using the techniques that Erni has revived for his Grosses Gewächs (“GG”) Rieslings at the Dr. Loosen estate in Germany.
J. Christopher Riesling GG, Appassionata (Chehalem Mountains)
The fruit for this wine was harvested from old Riesling vines (planted in 1976) in the Medici Vineyard, which is also in the Chehalem Mountains AVA, just a few miles from the winery. We lease this vineyard and have been farming it organically since 2015. The wine was fermented in a 3,000-liter German oak cask, and rests on the full lees for 12 months before bottling. The extended lees contact allows the wine to clarify and find its own harmonious balance naturally.
J. Christopher Pinot Noir, Appassionata (Willamette Valley)
This wine is a special selection of a few extraordinary barrels to produce a super-cuvée that is dense and powerful, yet retains the Old World style of elegance and finesse. The wine is not released until Ernst believes it is ready to drink.
VALUE LABEL WINE
J. Christopher J.J. Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley)
This second-label wine is a blend of barrels that did not fit well stylistically with the regular J. Christopher bottlings. The winemaking and fruit sources are the same for all of the wines, but this is typically a blend of barrels that are more fruit-forward. The barrel selection process starts with the single-vineyard wines, the special cuvées, and then the two elemental cuvées: Basalte and Volcanique. What remains goes into the J.J Pinot Noir.
Each year a number of extra-special, limited-production wines are also made, depending on the nature of the vintage. These wines are mostly sold directly from the tasting room, but in some cases a special order may be possible. Please visit www.jchristopherwines.com to learn more about what’s currently available. If something catches your fancy, please send us an Email.