Ernst Loosen Making Oregon Pinot Noir

Proposed collaboration between Ernst Loosen and Jay Somers confirmed.

Now it's official. The news that was leaked [to Decanter] a couple of weeks ago regarding a proposed collaboration between Germany's Ernst Loosen (Dr. Loosen) and Oregon's Jay Somers (J Christopher wines) has been confirmed. After a visit to Washington State last week to check on vineyards producing Riesling for his Ste. Michelle "Eroica" bottling, Loosen headed down to the Willamette Valley to work out the details of an Oregon Pinot project.

Somers worked crush at Dr. Loosen in 2004, and has brought much of that experience to bear on his Oregon Rieslings. Now the tables will be turned, as Ernie Loosen, who has been making Pinot Noir in the Pfalz for the past decade, comes to Oregon to see what can be done with New World fruit.

Somers began his winemaking career at Cameron winery, then started his own boutique in Portland in 2000. He will source the fruit and do the day-to-day winemaking for the project at his J. Christopher winery. In an exclusive interview with the Wine Enthusiast, Dr. Loosen spokesman Kirk Wille confirmed that Ernst Loosen "will lend his palate, his winemaking expertise and his extensive connections to top winemakers and equipment suppliers" to the project. Wille also notes that the two winemakers have tasted many wines together and "are in very close agreement as to what makes a top-notch Pinot Noir."

Production will commence with a joint barrel selection of wine from 2005, and continue with the upcoming 2006 harvest. The first vintage for the still-to-be-named project will consist of just a few barrels (100 cases or so) of 2005 Pinot Noir. The plan is to gradually push production up to one or two thousand cases, providing that enough quality fruit can be obtained. "The ultimate goal," Wille explains, "would be to acquire a few acres of prime Pinot vineyard in Oregon, where they could have complete control over the vineyard work. In the meantime, they will work to develop long-term relationships with a few selected growers."

Loosen plans to return to the Pacific Northwest in December to work on both his Washington Riesling and Oregon Pinot projects.

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