No one knows what the body can do. -Spinoza

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tasting Notes On Eyrie Vineyard Wines

Jason and David Lett, image from the Eyrie Vineyard web site

David Lett moved from Davis, California to the Wilamette Valley in Oregon in 1966. Shortly after he and his wife planted Pinot Noir on the property they'd purchased on a hillside near the small town of Dundee. By 1970 Lett made his first Pinot wine, brilliantly introducing Oregon, and the world, to the possibility of Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley. He was the first to produce this wine in that area. Even more impressively, he'd asked for advice from studied experts that he knew in Davis and they'd all advised him against the venture. He persisted anyway, and as a result changed the wine industry of the United States. David Lett was since nicknamed "Papa Pinot" as a result.

It is David Lett that began Eyrie Vineyards. Their Pinot Noir has been internationally recognized, and is still considered one of the finest in the Williamette Region. In addition to Pinot Noir, Eyrie Vineyard also offers small production Pinot Meunier, Pinot Blanc, and even Muscat.

Last year my sister Melanie and I made plans to tour wine country for her birthday. We ended up choosing the Wilamette Valley in the Dundee District for the celebration. Having tasted a number of Pinots of the region on that trip, and since, Eyrie Vineyard remains a personal favorite.

On my recent trip to Alaska, we tasted a variety of wines from the Eyrie Vineyard. Each offered the unique taste and scent of the Willamette
terroir, and more specifically what I have come to regard as a unique flavor of the Eyrie winery--an almost rhubarb pie and cherry sweet-tart bite to the nose that I treasure.

Eyrie Wines, image from the Eyrie Vineyard website

2007 Muscat Ottonel

Only a very limited bottling (I hear they made only about 22 cases), the Muscat Ottonel by Eyrie is a special treat to have tasted. To make this offering even more special, muscat is rarely produced outside its home region of Alsace.

bone dry white wine. exquisite light table wine with a touch of sweetness. very drinkable. the scent of rhubarb pie I love from Eyrie, coupled with floral aromas and a touch of honey scent. mineral flavors. high acidity. light sunshine yellow color. strongly clings to the glass. taste of melon, and white grape. balanced. wonderful.

2007 Estate Pinot blanc

Pinot Blanc is a mutation of Pinot Noir, growing as a truly white grape. Though it offers a full bodied white wine flavor, it can be difficult to find true Pinot Blanc wines, as some regions allow other whites to be mixed in in its stead, and the grapes historically named Pinot Blanc in the United States were discovered to have been named in error, actually originating as an entirely different varietal. Eyrie offers a genuine Pinot Blanc wine.

bright, woody nose. light citrus nose and flavors. buzzy in the mouth. very dry. incredibly full-bodied and well balanced. some chardonnay like qualities--buttery, full, bright. light spice. light fruit and woody taste in the throat. very pleasant.

2007 Pinot Meunier

I've written here before about my love for Pinot Meunier. I regard it as a truly special grape. Again, it is a variation of Pinot Noir, but is delicate and challenging to grow. It is most often treated as a blending wine, so discovering it bottled on its own is a special treat. Eyrie produces this wine in limited release, so it can be difficult to get. I heard they produced only several-ten cases.

light, coppery red color with delicate body. metallic, tart, tight nose at first. opens into that scent of sharp rhubarb pie and bright florals that i associate with Eyrie. brightly tangy, with slight rhubarb bite at first. immediately upon opening the bottle the flavors seemed tight. opened into a fuller, rich rhubarb pie flavor with cherry that i love. not sweet--but instead fruit. very slightly hot on the tongue. well balanced in the mouth. very dry. slight metallic.

2006 Original Vines Reserve Pinot Noir

The Eyrie Pinot Noir is made from the oldest vines in the Willamette Valley. It is a highly regarded gem of a wine with a beautiful history. David Lett died in 2008, and his son Jason Lett has taken over the vineyard. Jason's work at Eyrie has proven successful. The Pinot Noir is treasured for its starting the Willamette tradition and name. But it is also treasured for its own brilliant richness.

rich, full bodied, rhubarb nose with light licorice scent. yummy. very slight buzz in the mouth. light pepper taste. tangy. full and well balanced. very low sugar, rich fruit. delicate, sophisticated pinot qualities. hot in the finish. an almost maple flavor, very light. beautiful.

eaten with cubed and sauteed salmon, cooked in lime and red pepper with soba noodles. brilliant combination. perfect mix of flavors.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome. Loved this! Josh knows a ton more about wines than I do, and he has turned me on to red wine, mainly Oregon Pinot, after years of drinking only Cabernet with my parents at dinner time (of course as a teen I was like, ew, I'll just drink my coke thanks, and rebelled with white wine as a young adult). I was so over the dark, oak-y tones and found I much prefer the bright tannins of a Pinot now.

    And the salmon dish sounds incredible. Thanks for the history and nice piece on the Letts! Did you send this to them by chance? Someday I hope to read your work in a column! :)