Eyrie Vineyards is one of the original historic wine estates in Oregon and by all accounts one of the most historic in this country. In the winter of 1965, after earning a degree in viticulture and enology from UC/Davis, and having spent time researching the vine in Europe, 25-year old David Lett moved to Oregon “with 3,000 grape cuttings and a theory”. He planted the cuttings in a rented nursery plot, and went looking for the perfect vineyard site. It was the first planting of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and related varieties in the Willamette Valley, and the first Pinot Gris in America.
Eyrie Vineyards was officially founded by David and Diana Lett in 1966 when they planted their vineyards in the Red Hills of Dundee, about 30 miles SW of Portland. The Letts settled on the name Eyrie (EYE-ree) after the red-tailed hawks who make their home around the property. The first vintage to be produced and bottled was the 1970, and just five years later, in 1975, The Eyrie Vineyards produced the first American Pinot Noir to compete successfully with the renowned Pinot Noirs of Burgundy. (Paris, 1979; Beaune, 1980).
In 2005, Jason Lett took over from his father as winemaker and vineyard manager and continues his family’s pioneering legacy. All wines are estate-grown and produced. In addition to handcrafted Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay, the Eyrie Vineyards also makes limited bottlings of Pinot blanc, Pinot Meunier and Muscat Ottonel. The philosophy of The Eyrie Vineyards, in the vineyards and in the winery, is to interfere as little as possible with the processes of nature. From the beginning, the wines have been made exclusively from hand-harvested grapes grown without the use of insecticides, herbicides or systemic fungicides. The estate is certified organic and uses biodynamic practices.
In the winery, Eyrie’s “gentle touch” vineyard philosophy is carried over in their winemaking approach. The “style” is based on picking grapes at that elusive point of maturity where true varietal characteristics are at their peak, but before they become over-ripe. In the winery there is extended lees contact, complete and spontaneous native fermentations, no fining and minimal filtration. This gentle treatment creates wines which are very approachable when young but also with a (now legendary) ability to age for decades.
Eyrie Vineyards Pinot Noir Original Vines Reserve Dundee Hills 2015
Retail Price: $ 85.97
Sale Price: $ 66.97
Wine Advocate, 95pts. – “Pale to medium ruby in color, the 2015 Pinot Noir Original Vines is a touch shy on the nose, with dusty/rocky notes opening to cola, oolong tea leaves, dried tobacco, bitter peel and spices. Light to medium-bodied, it's electric in the mouth, with broody dried black cherry and black raisin accented by tea leaves, petrichor, tree bark, exotic spices and dried flowers. It has a wonderful frame of very fine tannins and mouthwatering acidity, finishing very long and very layered.”
Vinous, 95pts. – “Light, vivid red. Highly expressive, spice-tinged red fruit, incense and potpourri qualities on the seductively perfumed nose, which is given vivacity by a smoky mineral accent. Sappy, alluringly sweet and precise on the palate, offering lively cherry liqueur, raspberry and five-spice powder flavors, along with a sexy floral nuance. Fine-grained and seamless in style, finishing extremely long and pure, with sneaky power, resonating spiciness and smooth, harmonious tannins. (all neutral oak)”
Eyrie Vineyards Pinot Willamette 2015
Retail Price: $ 34.99
Sale Price: $ 31.47
James Suckling, 92pts. – “Lots of cranberries and blueberries, in addition to undertones of rose bush and leaves. Full-bodied and fruity with a lively and fresh finish. Drink or hold. From organically grown grapes.”
Vinous, 92pts. – “Bright red. Vibrant red berry and floral aromas are complicated by suggestions of Asian spices and smoky minerals. Taut, focused and energetic in the mouth, offering lithe raspberry, bitter blood orange and spicecake flavors that deepen and become sweeter with air. Silky and graceful in style, displaying excellent closing focus, fruity persistence and harmonious tannins.”
Recent Cellar Selections:
Domaine Lapierre - The Original Natural Winemaker
Fontodi Flaccianello – Most Tuscan of Super Tuscans
Domaine de Baronarques – A Mediterranean Mouton!
Thibault Liger-Belair Burgundy - Listening to the Vines
Chateau Montelena - New World but Classically Styled
Tignanello 2016 – 97pts. WA, WS & JS. It’s Unanimous
Domaine de Villaine – Budget DRC ??
Tenuta di Trinoro 2016 – 100pt. Super Tuscan
Andrew Will – 97 pts. from the Bordeaux of Washington State
Francois Chidaine – Essential and Age-Worthy Chenin Blanc
Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou – Like a Rolling Stone?
Gran Enemigo 2014 – 98 pt. Cabernet Franc