J. Christopher Basalte Pinot Noir 2018
The Basalte Pinot Noir is our bedrock bottling from the Willamette Valley. It is sourced from vineyards in two AVAs — Chehalem Mountains and Dundee Hills — that have fairly thin volcanic clay topsoil over fractured basalt. This type of very rocky soil lends itself to full-bodied, firmly structured wines. The Basalte captures this expressive character of the soil, with deep red fruit and a fine tannic structure that maintains the elegant style we are seeking.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Refined and structured, with savory cherry, crushed stone and black tea flavors that finish with broad-shouldered tannins.
This wine leads with oak and cinnamon-stick spice, a little muddled at first, but after a few moments herbal, floral components—hibiscus and red fruits, like cranberry and pomegranate, come to the fore. That fruit deepens with air, cordoned off with the mineral grip of the tannins.
Located in Oregon’s Northern Willamette Valley, J. Christopher Wines is a boutique winery that specializes in Pinot Noir made in the traditional style of Burgundy, and in Sauvignon Blanc modeled after the superlative wines of Sancerre. The winery is owned by world renowned Ernst Loosen, of Weingut Dr. Loosen in Germany. Erni’s lifetime passion for the wines of Burgundy has led to a philosophy to produce elegant, nuanced wines in a distinctly Old World style with an emphasis on lower alcohol and a modest amount of oak. The wines have garnered an international reputation for their purity, balance and food-friendly drinkability.
The Chehalem Mountains is a northwest-southeast span of several distinct mountains, ridges and peaks in the northern part of the Willamette Valley. Of all of Willamette Valley's smaller AVAs, it is closest to the city of Portland. Its highest summit, Bald Peak at an elevation of 1,633 feet, serves to generate cooler air for the rest of the AVA and its hillside vineyards. The region covers 70,000 acres but only 1,600 acres are planted to vines; soils of the Chehalem Mountains are a mix of basalt, ocean sediment and loess.
Thin-skinned, finicky and temperamental, Pinot Noir is also one of the most rewarding grapes to grow and remains a labor of love for some of the greatest vignerons in Burgundy. Fairly adaptable but highly reflective of the environment in which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate and requires low yields to achieve high quality. Outside of France, outstanding examples come from in Oregon, California and throughout specific locations in wine-producing world. Somm Secret—André Tchelistcheff, California’s most influential post-Prohibition winemaker decidedly stayed away from the grape, claiming “God made Cabernet. The Devil made Pinot Noir.”