Description and Flavor Profile: Jessie Vineyard was established in 1994 after founder of Cristom Vineyards, Paul Gerrie, saw the potential of a steep, wooded, east-facing hillside when the property was purchased in 1992. When planting began in 1994, the vineyard was named after Pauls paternal grandmother Jessie Summers.
Ranging in elevation from 320 ft to 550 ft (98 m to 168 m), this 11.53 acre (4.67 hectare) site is one of the steepest planted in the Willamette Valley and our most challenging to farm. The entire vineyard is planted at the high density of 2,311 vines/acre (5,710 vines/hectare) and is notorious at the estate for its shallow soil at the top of the hillside. The strategy to plant densely creates competition among the neighboring vines and forces the roots deep into the topsoil, yielding smaller clusters and producing more concentrated flavors. The shallow, 15.5 million year old Columbia River Basalt soils known as Witzel and Ritner run the western edge of the vineyard at the top of the hill and are the most shallow soils on the entire estate. The vines struggle here – these soils have a natural devigorating effect on the vines, slowing vegetative growth and focusing the plants energy on fruit production. Deeper basalt soils including Jory and Nekia, that both have greater water holding capacity, extend down the steep hillside and the eastern edge of the vineyard boasts some of the deepest soils on the Cristom estate.
Jessie Vineyard tends to produce Pinot Noirs that exude an enticing scent of purple and blue floral notes that make the wine instantly appealing. Drawn in by the deep floral aromas and minerality, Jessie can also be recognized by savory aromas that often call to mind rare-beef. On the palate, black fruits and a deeper-darker-fuller mouth-feel and alluring texture can often characterize Jessie Vineyard Pinot Noirs.
The 2014 vintage will be remembered as one of the great vintages in Willamette Valley winegrowing history. A warm, but nearly ideal growing season delivered the rare combination of abundant quantity and exceptional quality fruit that developed into aromatic wines of balance, depth and concentration. The season got off to a warm and dry start with the earliest budbreak and bloom we have recorded at the Cristom Estate in our history to that point – a full two weeks earlier than our twenty-year average. Growing conditions were mostly dry and warmer than normal throughout the spring providing a great environment for flowering and fruit set and the vineyards produced heavy clusters and large berries. The warm weather conditions continued throughout the summer leading to record high temperatures and the earliest start date to harvest in over two decades. The 2014 vintage broke the previous record for heat accumulation during the growing season, set in 1992.
With such exceptional vine fruitfulness and set, we made the deliberate decision to thin more modestly than we historically have per vine, leaving more fruit spread out across the canopy. Our reasoning behind keeping more clusters on the vine in 2014, was given the unusually warm growing season we were trying to gain hang time at the end of the season. If we thinned more aggressively as we do in an average year, we feared we would shorten the season and the fruit would result in high sugars and green flavors. We hung just over 2.6 tons/acre in many areas of Jessie Vineyard as opposed to our twenty- year average of 2.0/tons acre. Our gamble paid off, and the expected abundant quantity and additional hang time combined for dark and concentrated fruit with balanced acids and sugars without experiencing any heat stress. We picked the estate Pinot Noir grapes between September 9th and September 27th, 2014. Truly a year to remember, the 2014 harvest gave us a range of wines from refreshing and vibrant to more rich, powerful and concentrated wines that remain graceful with balance and moderate alcohol.
Jessie Vineyard, in almost any vintage, exudes floral notes of blue and purple flowers and the 2014 expresses this trademark trait beautifully. The nose swirls with earthy tones, dense strawberry fields, Chinese cinnamon, fennel seeds, cloves and star anise. On the palate there is a richness to the core of opulent fruit and finishes with slightly sandy tannins and a balanced, persistent finish. This wine is drinking well now and may age for the next 10-12 years gracefully.
Varietal: Pinot Noir
AVA: Willamette Valley: Eola-Amity Hills
Barrel Aging: 18 months in French cooperage, 52% new oak
Aging Potential: Enjoy now through 2026
Serving Temperature: 13ºC/55ºF
Cases by Layer/Pallet: 14/56 (12, 750ml bottles/case)
2014 reviews: Vinous, 94 pts; Prince of Pinot, 93 pts; James Suckling.com, 92 pts; Wine Enth, 91 pts
2013 reviews: Wine Enthusiast, 93 pts; Wine Spectator, 92 pts, Wine & Spirits, 91 pts.
2012 reviews: Wine Advocate, 93 pts; Wine Spectator, 93 pts; Wine & Spirits, 92 pts.
Jessie is one of Oregons 5 Grand Cru sites of the future
– Katherine Cole, Wine-searcher, April 2014
It feels like something made by angels rather than guys in work boots.
– Karen McNeil, Winespeed, January 2017, Wine of the week
Jessie is one of six wines to consider if you want to know Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.
– Michael Alberty, Conversations & Tastings with 50 Masters of Place, Wine & Spirits, Fall 2016