Preparing for IPNC 2: Visiting Eyrie Vineyards Winery

Visiting Eyrie Vineyards Winery

the oldest vines in Willamette Valley, the South Block planted in 1966

beginning with a surprise–blind tasting 2989 Pinot Gris: nutty, (pleasing textural) oxidative notes, dried apricot

the Black Cap label, as Jason Lett explains it, is all about getting off the farm to see what other wine makers and farmers are doing; the Eyrie label is all about doing the best with the Estate’s own fruit

Mr. Dr. Who, Jason Lett

from left: fruit from the entire Eyrie estate; fruit only from the South Block original vines; fruit from Eyrie’s highest, Daphne Vineyard, all 2009

the Black Cap Pinot Noir blend 2009

Original vines, South Block Pinot Noir, 1980

the time machine–library bottles served in the tasting room

Eyrie Vineyards started with 30 new oak barrels. They still use 12 of those original barrels (they do repairs and replace the bands).

In going through the barrels of South Block Reserve from 1975 through 2007 (David Lett’s vintages of that presentation), barrels that were overly oxidized were lost. Those that showed oxidation but in a way that offered still interesting insight into the site were kept and blended together. 2011 juice was then added, and the remaining pressed grapes were sent to Portland to have custom brandy made with them. The wine was then fortified with the custom brandy to make a complete horizontal blend South Block Pinot Noir dessert wine. I did not spit this wine.

little barrels are kept in the Eyrie cellar to age wine made by the Lett daughters

an Eyrie Chardonnay dessert wine includes every vintage of South Block Chardonnay from 1970 through 2006. Juice from 2009 was added, and brandy made with the same fruit, then used for fortification. As Jason explains, we’re used to having wine blended from grapes in the same year over various vineyard sites. The dessert wine shows the South Block site over a long expanse of time. I did not spit the Chardonnay either.

the dessert wines will be bottled in the 500 ml clay Grolsch bottles. Since these bottles are not recyclable Eyrie will include the Grolsch closure with the bottle so that it can be reused.

the auger David Lett kept in the back of his car so he could take soil samples, as he toured Willamette looking for the right vineyard site.

“My father started this business. For a long time, Pinot Noir just ran through his veins. It was an incredible act of bravery, and generosity on his part to turn the winery over to me. It came after ten years of various changes at the winery. But then he said to me, “Jason, here are the keys. Don’t screw it up.” He was so deeply dedicated to his craft that for him to hand that over to me is a deep honor. At the same time, one cannot be too over awed, or you will get stuck in a mold and not move forward. What dad did was all about new direction. I want to keep tradition moving forward, while also keeping that tradition of trying new varieties, and new wines moving forward too.” -Jason Lett

Thank you to Jason Lett. Thank you to Diana Lett.

Thank you to Annica, and to Jacques!

I’m so grateful.

Copyright 2012 all rights reserved. When sharing or forwarding, please attribute to WakawakaWineReviews.com

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