News & Opinions

Climate Change: Will we still enjoy Pinot noir?

earth-photo The article “Climate Change Will Alter the Taste of Wine”,
by Kimberley A Nicholas
was published in the January 2015 issue of Scientific American.

Some quotes:

“Climate change is beginning to affect the singular flavors that people expect from different wines from around the world—the experience you have come to know and trust from your favorite reds and whites. As a result, grape growers and winemakers are beginning to make some difficult and intriguing decisions about how to respond. ”

“Wine is a literal message in a bottle, captured for our enjoyment. It lets us visit parts of the world we may never see in person. It reflects the fabulous environmental and cultural diversity of the planet, as well as humankind’s deep reliance on nature to provide us with everything we need to live and many of the things that make life worth living. Today we are on course to fundamentally disrupt life on earth. Unless we make major changes very soon, the lost flavor of my hometown wines will likely be one of the less serious casualties.”

The Wine Snob Praises Rie-Chard Swine Wine

January 20, 2015

the-wine-snob-blog-300pToday The Wine Snob blog had all kinds of nice things to say about EIEIO’s white Swine Wine, a blend of Riesling and Chardonnay known fondly as Richard (Rie-Chard).

Some excerpts:

About Jay, the horcrux of of the area:
“Jay is sort of like a Horcrux of this area… but in a good way. I’ll explain. Jay opened The Tasting Room in Carlton back in the day right in the center of town in a really cool old bank building. I can’t find an exact date, but suffice to say it was right when a lot of Oregon winemakers that are now very well-established were just getting their start. The Tasting Room was a retail store/tasting room (go figure) where local producers could get their wines out to the people before they were big enough to have tasting rooms of their own. Legend holds that many-a now well-known winemakers had help from Jay in the beginning. Thats why he’s a Horcrux- he has a bit of all of their souls. But again, not in a sinister way.”

EIEIO-Swine-White-500pAbout the 2013 Rie-Chard:
“So whats the story on this little Piggy? It is a blend of Riesling and Chardonnay, not your most common bedfellows; obviously no one told them that, because they make a lovely couple in this wine. It captures the cool-climate persona of the Willamette Valley with finesse. Gentle, yet with a bracing acidity, it will enchant with aromas of pear, quince, green apple and nuances of honeysuckle. If you’re patient enough to let this wine open up, its texture will soften and charm your pants off. This wine is actually what began my fondness for half bottles. They’re just fun, doggone it. A slight amount of residual sugar makes it very accessible and bright. Good clean fun. Plus, did I mention its cute? Its cute.”

Read more on The Wine Snob website…

Four Oregon Vintages: an EIEIO Update


Oregon 2008 through 2011

What a strange word when you really think about it… Where else do you see this word in use other than to describe something as being “old but collectable”? Mostly in the mention of wine! Vintage, the realm of farming, has to do with the year in which the crop was grown. More specifically in the case of wine it has to do with the year in which the grapes were grown. And as we all know the weather is what we are referring to when we speak of “vintage” since most years are of the same length!

These four vintages, 2008 through 2011, represent a broad range in weather and subsequently, a wide range of finished wines. Each of these wines represents what the vintage brought or wrought, depending upon how you look at things.

I describe my EIEIO Cuvee E in this article as an example of what each vintage produced. All of the wines are beautiful and for the most part balanced. Each will smell, taste and drink just fine although some will benefit from more time in the bottle while others are ready to consume.

Drinking a vertical of the same wine is an educational gift for those who want to experience vintage variation in one sitting. This is what I suggest as you will learn more from having four different vintages of the same wine opened over a nice long dinner than by drinking them separately. So if you have a four vintage vertical like the Cuvee E vertical that I offer, go ahead and open all four bottles at the same time. Pour each person a glass of each at the dinner table and go back and forth, tasting between the glasses as the dinner progresses. Note not only their initial differences, but also how each wine changes with time and the exposure to air. This is what the wine hobby is all about.


2008, Oregon’s Superb Year

New York Times: “The critics have weighed in from every conceivable angle, and the results seem to be unanimous. The 2008 vintage for Oregon Pinot noir is superb... They will reward in 10 years or so of aging…With each year of experience, winemakers in Oregon become better at understanding the combination of climate, vineyard and cellar work necessary to produce good wines.”

2008 Cuvee E:
I would have to agree with the New York Times on their assessment of the vintage, especially on the ability of  the wine to age. My Cuvee E is drinking beautifully now but still has an easy seven to ten years left in it if cellared properly. Loads of black plum, blackberry and a dash of dust are obvious on the nose. The entry is round and mouth filling after six years of time. Flavors are more akin to cherry-glazed duck breast, which would be a nice meal to accompany this wine.

2009, Oregon’s BIG Year

PinotFile: “The quality (of the 2009 vintage) is at an astonishing high level… “A long, warm growing season in 2009 made many full bodied, California style “BIG” Oregon Pinots. The best winemakers meticulously managed their vineyards and picked when complex, true varietal character could be expressed. In general, Pinots from this vintage are flashy to spectacular.

2009 Cuvee E:  Rusty Gaffney of PinotFile is correct concerning the larger scale of the wine produced in the 2009 vintage in Oregon. The Cuvee E is lush and deep with a nice dose of tannin for balancing out the wine, all due to blending in the grapes from the Meredith Mitchell Vineyard to assist in prolonging the life. Nose shows off not only black-skinned plums but also forest floor and a bit of raspberry. The higher toned fruits such as raspberry and kumquat are due to the small percentage of Wind Hill Vineyard blended in with its high elevation, it also retains acidity, even in warmer years like 2009. Entry is smooth and refreshing with flavors in the red fruit zone of plum, cherries and pomegranate. Finish has scale with more clean fruit than forest floor and meat as with my 2008 Pinots.

2010, Oregon’s “Oregon-ness” Year

San Francisco Chronicle’s Jon Bonne: “The (2010) wines aren’t simply excellent; they show a concentration and depth that rise from being simply pleasurable to being profound. And they offer… a true sense of ‘Oregon-ness’. More importantly, there is great structure: acidity that’s in perfect balance, tannins that are firm but not stern.”

2010 Cuvee E:
It figures that this is a vintage which Jon Bonne loves as it has a purity of fruit which is textbook Pinot noir plus low alcohol levels. Most of the fruit in this Cuvee E came from lower elevation vineyard sites so there is depth of flavors and ample weight to the mouthfeel. Aromatics are complex with a range from red cherry compote to a just ripped opened tangerine. Entry is lovely and lively and showing a bit of freshly sliced watermelon with cherries in the background. Finish is all there in a chamber music sort of way. This vintage still has another ten years of life, easily.

2011, Oregon’s Year of the Power to Surprise

New York Times’ Eric Asimov: “… sometimes a particular vintage stands out, either because it is so unusual or because its character somehow impresses itself indelibly on the wines. Such is the case with the 2011 pinot noirs from Oregon…People like me who love Pinot noirs of finesse and restraint will adore the 2011 vintage. The best wines are clear, focused and vivacious.. I don’t doubt this vintage will be polarizing. Those who do prefer richer, warmer wines may find some of these puzzling, as if they lacked sufficient flesh. Others may be charmed by their unusual delicacy. Either way, 2011 is proof that among wine’s best qualities is its power to surprise.”

2011 EIEIO Cuvee E:
Back to the New York Times and once again, I am in agreement with Eric Asimov regarding the elegant restraint of the vintage. These wines are starting to flesh out since their release and will easily last twenty years from the vintage. Deep color of garnet red with tinges of purple on the edges. In true Cuvee E fashion, this is everything you would look for in everyday wine: Perfumed aromatics dominated by bright red cherry, raspberry and cinnamon lead the aromatics into the entry that would love the companion of fine fatty food. An invigorating wine that wakes up the taste buds with a fresh flavor profile and refreshing acidity. Supple mouthfeel showing bright yellow and red cherries. With some time in the glass more aromas and flavors evolve: rose petals, orange blossom, peach nectar and plums. Linear, clean, polished and incredibly thirst quenching.


Aged A Decade to Perfection

past email offer 12-16-2014

Meredith Mitchell Vineyard
Pinot noir Vertical: 2004, 2005, 2006

The Wines

For many years I used the grapes from the Meredith Mitchell Vineyard as a blending agent to assist in prolonging the life of my EIEIO wine. The vineyard produces fruit that has high tannins, high acids and dark color, adding the desirable components known as structure to wine. The Meredith Mitchell Pinot noirs I made in the mid “00’s” are some of my longest lived, and these three are just now hitting their prime time for drinking. In the words of this email, they have been aged a decade to reach their perfection.

The Vineyard Site

Meredith Mitchell sits high upon a shelf overlooking the Willamette Valley to the south. The word “exposed” also is used when describing this site from most any person who has been there. Being exposed is not necessarily a bad thing as it gives you intensity. My section on the southwestern corner of the property was planted in 1988 to the Pommard clone and remains trellised in the old “single-wire” method causing the fruit to be even more exposed to the elements. This elemental exposure causes thicker skins due to wind and sunlight, resulting in higher tannins and due to the radical temperature changes every day; higher acids.

Meredith Mitchell Vineyard is owned by Susan Meredith and Frank Mitchell. The property encompasses 104 acres located between 450 and 650 feet in elevation in the Foothills of the Coast Range of the McMinnville AVA. The 25 acre vineyard is planted primarily to own-rooted Pinot Noir (1988) Pommard clone, with smaller blocks of Pinot Blanc (1996) and Pinot Gris (1995) and utilizes low input, sustainable farming practices to preserve the true nature of the site. Consistently producing small clusters and berries this vineyard renders wine which is intense and structured, requiring more aging than most.

Meredith Mitchell Vineyard was designated one of the two leading properties in McMinnville AVA by Wine Spectator in 2005 and rated the Number 2 Oregon Vineyard in the “Top 10 Northwest vineyards” by Wine Press NW 2007.

The combination of own-rooted, mature vines and shallow, rocky, broken basalt, sedimentary soil consistently produces intense fruit with complex layers of aroma, flavor and structure. The vineyard is managed by Susan And Frank underlining their philosophy that “the best fertilizer is the owner’s footsteps”.

below, Meredith Mitchell Vineyard View

EIEIO Meredith Mitchell Vineyard Pinot Noir 2004
The vintage after 2003, a vintage which made some high scores and allegedly short lived wines from the names we have all heard of, but try them now, you might be surprised! The 2004 vintage was a balanced beauty with low yields. My small 1.1 acre block was cropped down to 0.8 tons per acre and it worked. It worked so well I have a hard time letting go of this wine as it is amazing. Fermentation was the first year without additions of yeasts. Total time in the jacketed-stainless steel tanks was around two weeks and then the wine rested in 75 percent new Francois Freres French oak barrels for ten months. The wine has been resting in the Trappist Abbey Wine Warehouse since being bottled without any movement and kept between 52 and 56 degrees just like Lalou likes it! Now is the time to let it move you. Flavors are more toward the black end of the fruit spectrum and the wine is more reminiscent of a Barolo than a Pinot. Have this with duck breast, ribeye, deer or elk. Do not have with fish as it will overpower any fish dish you might think of. But if you are accomplished in the kitchen and want to prove me wrong, give me an invite and I will bring a bottle of this wine to share!

EIEIO Meredith Mitchell Vineyard Pinot Noir 2005
A lovely vintage with a well soaked spring followed by a dry but cool summer resulted in wines with nice acidity and fresh fruit flavors from the inception. Yield was up to 1.2 tons per acre this year which caused no change in the intensity of the resulting wine; a big bad mama jama, which will move you in many ways. Fermentation and barrel cellaring was the same as in 2004 resulting in a softer and more approachable wine, even now. More red fruits but leaning toward the darker end of the stone fruit spectrum. Excellent entry with a smooth transition as it glides away. This is drinking the best out of the three at this juncture. You can actually have this one with fish and I would recommend King Salmon if you can find any. Otherwise, just drink it with a good friend and you will undoubtedly become better friends by the end of the bottle.

EIEIO Meredith Mitchell Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006
A most impressive vintage in the North Willamette: we had a normal spring resulting in plenty of potential clusters, a few hot days but nothing to get concerned about and good overall health in the vineyards as moisture was just about right. If anything, it was warmer than normal which was an excellent thing for the Meredith Mitchell Vineyard. After a few years of learning how the “single wine” trellising works, or rather how to WORK WITH the single wire trellis, the grapes ripened into some of the nicest fruit to ever come off my exposed corner of the vineyard. Healthy and consistently sized clusters fermented beautifully and cleanly, albeit slowly over four weeks with no need to adjust sugars as most needed in the 2006 vintage. This big bouncing baby drinks great now but you can tell it has a long life ahead of it as well. Black still dominates over red fruit flavors but there is a nice silky smoothness to the entry as well as an enveloping mouth feel and then a second wave of meaty and earthy flavors emerges. Great length with flavors of ripe juicy black cherries with nice dried charcuterie from Fino in Fondo are impressive. Man this is good!  Time to go home! I am geting hungry.

The Deal:

Three-pack – one bottle of each
includes free shipping continental US

Six-pack: two bottles of each
includes free shipping continental US

Twelve-pack: four bottles of each
includes free shipping continental US

Jay McDonald has a better way to sell wine

Wine + Patience = Happiness

The “Amazonification” of the American consumer continues and we all are to blame.

I find this amazing fixation on Amazon to be spreading across many levels and am worried that consumers have come to expect too much for too little in a timeframe that is unrealistic, especially in the realm of wine. While I too love Amazon with their “free shipping” and “one-clicking” and almost immediate deliveries of commodity type goods, it is no surprise that they are not earning money on their sales of goods…

With wine, especially my wine, it takes a long time to not only grow the grapes, but also for it to ferment. Then I let the wine rest in various containers for quite some time to fully blossom into what it should become. It is at that point where I drink a few bottles to see if it might be time to offer it up.

Many of you purchase the wine and need to have it stored as where you might want it delivered is experiencing the wrong temperatures at the time of the sale so I store it in a climate-controlled warehouse for quite some time for free. For some of the better customers on this list, I have stored wines for several years. Unfortunately, when it is “the right time” to ship, I am in the middle of harvest and cannot accomplish the re-packaging and shipping as I am not going to delegate my winemaking. Sure, I could hire this packing and shipping job out and did a few times and many of you benefited from not only double shipments or my correcting the wrong shipment after the fact with additional free wine. This generosity not only cost quite a bit financially on the short run but also costs quite a bit in credibility. Hence, I pack and ship myself and still seem to make a mistake now and then. Maybe I am getting older… Time to slow things down a bit…

The new website addresses the ease of an order since we are dealing with a limited product, or should I have written “produce” since it is not only annually grown but also perishable. You now place your order without any payment required UNTIL it is determined that the wine is still actually available! Good thinking, huh? Additionally, all sales will be through QuickBooks Invoicing System or the tried and true old-school method of a check sent through the US Mail.

Feel free to critique, compliment or better yet, place an order for the wines you want to complement your holiday season for yourself or someone else.

And, if you order a minimum of six bottles I will ship to most locations within the continental United States for a mere $11 per box.

Thank you for your support in the past and I look forward to making you happy with my wine in the future!

Jay McDonald

EIEIO & Company
503 852 6733

Oregonian on Jay McDonald

Jay McDonald: A driving force, and a product of Carlton’s wine boom


On November 19th the Oregonian’s 2014 Holiday Wine Guide praised Jay McDonald and his career as wine shop owner, negotiant, and winemaker whose contributions to the Oregon wine industry are nationally respected.

“If you want the history of Carlton’s wine boom in a nutshell, just look at Jay McDonald’s resume…he’s gone rom being on the winemaking fringe, to negotiant to bonded winery owner making his own wine.”

Author Danielle Centoni describes Jay’s evolution from Texas to New York’s financial markets to Carlton, purchasing a historic downtown bank building and converting it into a wine shop selling Oregon’s most distinguished wines.

The article is a well deserved compliment to one of Oregon’s best loved winemakers.