BY TAMARA BELGARD
Making wine is much like making music. Each element of the wine, the flavors, aromas, texture, acid and tannin work together harmoniously, like musical instruments in a symphony. So when a musical mogul and wine legend partner together, one might expect greatness. Such is the case for Domaine Nicolas-Jay.
Nicolas-Jay is the story of a three-decade friendship between famed Burgundian winemaker Jean-Nicolas Méo and music entrepreneur Jay Boberg that began over their shared love of Oregon pinot noir. The two met when Méo was studying in the United States just as Boberg was making a name for himself in music.
In 2011, a visit to the Willamette Valley reignited Boberg’s fascination with the region. It also inspired him to commit himself fully to his lifelong passion for wine. He approached Méo with the idea of starting a small winery in Oregon. Their first vintage was released in 2014 and their state-of-the-art winery and tasting room opened to the public in 2021.
With a glass of rosé in-hand, guests approach the new tasting room from above the gravity flow winemaking space, getting an inside look at the operation. The tasting room is a homey and inviting space with an open kitchen, lounge, a wood-burning fireplace, and large tables for seated tastings. The floorboards—three-quarter-inch Douglas fir tongue and groove—were milled from trees felled and kiln-dried on the property, as were the three long tables, each made from a single tree.
Open Thursday through Monday each week, guests at Nicolas-Jay enjoy a private, seated, guided pairing experience with a Nicolas-Jay wine educator, tasting five wines and selections of Briar Rose Creamery cheese. The current flight includes: The 2020 Nicolas-Jay Rosé of Pinot Noir, 2019 Bishop Creek Chardonnay, 2018 L’Ensemble Pinot Noir, 2018 Bishop Creek Pinot Noir and the 2015 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.
Boberg’s musical roots were part of the inspiration behind Nicolas-Jay’s newest wine: the L’Ensemble Pinot Noir. Meaning “the whole” and “together” in French, L’Ensemble, also a musical term, mostly used in classical and jazz orchestras, brings prized lots of special vineyards together—an ode to creating a cuvée that is greater and more cohesive than its parts. L’Ensemble speaks to the harmonious and collaborative nature of Nicolas-Jay’s craft, where all of the players come together to create expressive, beautiful wines.
Nicolas-Jay’s estate vineyard, Bishop Creek Vineyard, lies in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. A steep, yet rolling site, the vineyard features densely spaced vines planted in the 1980s. The own-rooted vines produce exceptional fruit, full of character. Nicolas-Jay acquired Bishop Creek in 2014 and farm the property 100-percent organically. The site, located above the town of Yamhill in the rain-shadow of the Coast Range, features 13.5 planted acres, 11 of which are planted with pinot noir. They are also known for producing exceptional single vineyard wines from some of the Willamette Valley’s most exalted sites, including Nysa and Momtazi Vineyards.
In October of 2021, Nicolas-Jay added four acres of Chardonnay to the rocky volcanic soils in the upper northwest corner of their 53-acre Dundee winery estate (note: different from Bishop Creek Vineyard) and planted a field blend of French clones. According to associate winemaker Tracy Kendall, “This strategy produces more diversity of flavors and structure in the finished wine as early and late ripening, sugar-rich and lean, acidic berries combine to create complex expressions that demonstrate the breadth of the site.” The remainder of the estate vineyard will be planted progressively over the next few years with vines sourced directly from France (after a mandatory period of quarantine following their import to Oregon).
Advanced reservations are required; visit exploretock.com/nicolasjay to book your tasting experience.