The foundational Eyrie Vineyards first planted vines in Oregon’s Willamette Valley in 1965, against the advice of professors at UC Davis. It was the vineyard instrumental in convincing Drouhin to purchase land in the state and set up Domaine Drouhin. Founder David Lett pioneered the search for ideal terroir in the state, spending years looking for the ideal site and eventually settling on what today is known as the Dundee Hills AVA. He did so by first narrowing down the suitable climatic range between the Cascades and the Coastal Range. He next identified ideal soil types, settling on the volcanic Jory and Nekia soils (infertile but superior water retention allowing for dry-farming) for which the Willamette is now famous. Lett settled on the final site in 1966 (though he had planted nursery vines in 1965). He planted Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris.
This special “original vines” bottle is made from those original vines planted in 1965-1970 – the very first in the state – with clones Wadenswil, Pommard and Upright. Vinification is up to 5% whole cluster, low-temperature ferments with indigenous yeasts (in fact, it is an indigenous yeast that allows low-temperature malo at this winery), and oak aging in mostly used barrels (about 95% used). The winery employs very low SO2 levels, on occasion down to 0 additional.
David Lett was renowned for a style of wine off-trend in the 1980’s and 1990’s, but now regaining appreciation. That is, lower alcohol and a focus on aromatics and freshness. Now that Jason Lett runs the winery (starting in 2005 and fully following his father’s death in 2008), the wines haven’t changed much.
This 2014 is among the best wine in Oregon state. Classic, no cola, no medicinal aromas or flavours, just pure red-fruit, spice, and elegance. If only all of Oregon was this good.
$80 USD at Pike and Western, Seattle