Ratio:Wines
 
 

Ratio:Wines

The Wines

 
 
Jesse-James-2.jpg
 

The video above is from Jessie James Vineyard high up in Eola Amity Hills. If you look closely you can see the vineyard workers running down the rows. They are holding twenty pounds in each hand as they run…exhausting. I’m the one in the red shirt on the trailer being precious with my decisions about which grapes make the cut.

I make two different series of wines. The Retina wines are what I believe to be honest expressions of the varietal, whether from a single vineyard or composite of vineyards. If you buy them, 10% of your money will go the Foundation Fighting Blindness (see Causes). Wines in the single-vineyard series are often even smaller production and focus on vineyards/vintages that I believe to be extraordinary for their quality or individual expression.

 

 
Cauliflower and Kale Soup

2016 Retina Pinot blanc

Labeled as Pinot blanc, the genetics of these grapes actually go back to a mutation found on one of Henri Gouges’ vines in Nuits St. Georges, Burgundy, where they propagated cuttings from Pinot Noir that lost its color. This is essentially the same story for other Pinot blanc plantings, but this clone has a very specific lineage – Henri Gouges > Archery Summit > Z’ivo Vineyard. Gary Andrus brought them in and included them in Archery Summit’s Vireton white blend before selling the grapes to John Zelko. John took cuttings to plant at his own Z’ivo Vineyard.

Z’ivo Vineyard is a low elevation vineyard on the east side of Eola-Amity Hills. While technically LIVE-certified, it has been farmed organically since 2013 and with biodynamic preparations since 2015. The Pinot Gouges (also called Pinot Musigny) is planted on the lowest elevation section on the southeast corner of the vineyard. The soil here is part of the Carlton series, which is similar to Woodburn, having been brought to the Willamette Valley through a series of floods originating from Lake Missoula in Idaho from 12,700 to 15,300 years ago. The vines here grow big but vineyard manager Leigh Bartholomew (ex-Archery Summit) does an incredible job of creating balance between fruit and leaves where the growth of the vine might otherwise take over.

Tasting Notes

I can’t help but think “yellow” when I smell this wine. Yellow plum, yellow apple, pineapple, mango and some sort of exotic melon combine with toasted oats and chalky/mineral notes on the nose. The palate is soft and fresh with a fresh pop of tropical fruit at mid that leads to juicy apple and pineapple on the finish. With time, this is sure to develop nuance and spice, as well as fat to complement the fresh acidity. This is a great way to start a meal and holds up to a wide range of fish and white meat dishes where the delicacy of the wine’s palate can enhance the dish.

The Art

Human retinal ganglion cells as drawn by Alexander Dogiel in 1891

The Details

Vineyard: Z’ivo Vineyard
AVA: Eola-Amity Hills
Clones: Pinot Gouges
Harvested August 20, 2016
Brix at harvest = 20.1
11 months in neutral French oak barrels, then 5 months on lees in stainless barrels
Alc. 12.4%
58 cases produced

 

 

2016 Jessie James Pinot Noir

Jessie James Vineyard sits at just under 700 feet elevation at the northern end of the Eola-Amity Hills. Farmed organically, the low vines here are planted at close spacing, which (combined with the dormer-laden building on the neighboring property) reminds me of Burgundy. The vines have limited growth and are more akin to vines in Napa than the typical wet, vigorously growing vines of Oregon.

Tasting Notes

The 2016, made with 25% whole cluster, explodes from the glass with juicy red and black fruits intermingled with cocoa, tobacco, iron, and sandalwood. You might think there is new oak here, but it was made entirely in neutral barrels; the stems add the woody complexity. The lack of new wood and the nature of this site make for an incredibly pure finish that stands out against other wines. The supple palate is bright and fresh with surprising vitality: cranberry with a pop of Meyer lemon. Together all these traits warrant time in the bottle.

The Art

Human cerebral cortex by Albert von Kölliker, circa 1893

The Details

Vineyard: Jessie James Vineyard
AVA: Eola-Amity Hills
Clones: 70% Pommard & 30% Wadenswil
Harvested September 20, 2016
Brix at harvest = 22.1
25% whole cluster
18 months in neutral French oak barrels
Alc. 13.0%
94 cases produced

Poached Eggs with Skillet Toast
 

 
Cauliflower and Kale Soup

2015 Johnson Vineyard Chardonnay

The 2015 Johnson Vineyard Chardonnay comes from the certified-organic Johnson Vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. Eric Lemelson owns the vineyard, having purchased it from the Johnson family, who famously farm grass seed across the Willamette Valley. I’ve worked with Johnson Vineyard for years and have come to believe in its potential as a great Chardonnay site.

Tasting Notes

The 2015 Johnson Vineyard Chardonnay was on the very earliest side of harvest to avoid the excessively tropical characteristics of clone 76 Chardonnay. The flinty nose still tends towards pineapple, but I prefer to call it (and think about it) as chamomile and Meyer lemon. With time in glass, more Chardonnay-ey notes of nutmeg and (very subtle) vanilla bean emerge. The palate is racy in its youth: electric and pure with hints of the power that it will have in a year or two in bottle. You can feel the potential in this wine and, if I were to (hopefully intelligently) guess, this wine will be beautiful in 3 years and will begin to show aged Chablis–like nuance in 5-10 years. I love this wine for its ability to draw you back for another sip.

The Art

Human cerebral cortex by Albert von Kölliker in 1893

The Details

Vineyard: Johnson Vineyard
AVA: Yamhill-Carlton
Clones: Dijon 76
Harvested September 5, 2015
Brix at harvest = 20.9
14 months in 20% new French oak (Damy) combined with neutral Chenin barrels
Alc. 13%
97 cases produced

 

 

2015 Retina Pinot Noir

The 2015 Retina Pinot noir comes from the organically farmed Jessie James Vineyard in Eola-Amity Hills. The low vines here are planted at close spacing, which (combined with the dormer-laden building on the neighboring property) reminds me of Burgundy. The vines have limited growth and are more akin to vines in Napa than the typical wet, vigorously growing vines of Oregon.

Other than the famed Ratio brand, fruit from the tiny Jessie James Vineyard goes to Grant Coulter at Hundred Suns Wine, Evan and Sarah Martin at Martin Woods, and Mikey Etzel of Beaux Freres and Coattails.

Tasting Notes

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve immersed my enormous nose into a glass of the 2015 Retina Pinot Noir to attempt to describe the aromas. The nose is somehow evasive, exhibiting black pepper spice intertwined with a mix of red and dark fruits: black cherry, plum, and strawberry. But there is something else there that reminds me of fresh clay, or maybe something more like sourdough? The pepper is primary though, so hopefully you like that aroma. Meanwhile, the palate is soft and supple (silk) with a mellow, dark berry and vanilla disposition that comes from time in barrel. Black pepper and red fruit complete the wine on the finish, making it more apt to pair with chicken and pork than darker cuts of meat. This wine is infused with potential and should age quite nicely for the next decade.

The Art

Human retinal ganglion cells as drawn by Alexander Dogiel in 1891

The Details

Vineyard: Jessie James Vineyard
AVA: Eola-Amity Hills
Clones: 70% Pommard & 30% Wadenswil
Harvested September 21, 2015
Brix at harvest = 23
30% whole cluster
18 months in 30% new French barrels (Taransaud) combined with neutral barrels
Alc. 13%
168 cases produced

Poached Eggs with Skillet Toast