Tasting Eyrie, Oregon's Pinot pioneer, with Jason Lett

Jason Lett

Jason Lett

This week while I was in McMinnville I had a chance to taste through the Eyrie range with Jason Lett. Back in the mid-1960s Jason’s dad, David, planted the first Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the Willamette Valley, Oregon (there’s a bit of history, including pictures of the original plantings, here). Jason has been running things since 2005, and these are lovely wines, showing balance and restraint.

The Eyrie Vineyards Chasselas Doré 2016 Dundee Hills, Oregon
9.5% alcohol. Linear, fresh and stony with delightful fresh citrus and pear fruit. Until 2013 picked at normal alcohol levels and it was like oil. But picked green, it produces a lovely wine. Linear, stony, fresh and delicious. Just two long rows, making 80 cases a year. 89/100

The Eyrie Vineyards Pinot Gris 2015 Dundee Hills, Oregon
4000 cases made: the real workhorse of the winery. Lovely richness here with some ripe apple and grape characters, as well as some lively spiciness, a hint of honey and some citrus spice notes. David Lett introduced Pinot Gris to the USA, from UC Davis. There were four plants and so we don’t know what modern clone it corresponds with. Lovely wine. 91/100

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The Eyrie Vineyards Original Vines Pinot Gris 2015 Dundee Hills, Oregon
From 1965 and 1974 plantings, made without sulfites. Very fresh and lively but also with some nice texture. Spicy and detailed with a really vital citrussy core, as well as some appley notes. Complex and spicy with lovely weight. Tangerine and lemons, with a lovely textural core to it. Such a distinctive, complex natural wine. 94/100

The Eyrie Vineyards Chardonnay 2015 Dundee Hills, Oregon
Restrained, textural and very fresh with a bit of lively citrus and pear fruit. Subtly nutty with a hint of apple and herb. Complex and finely spiced with nice weight and intensity. Some warmth on the finish. 93/100

The Eyrie Vineyards Original Vines Chardonnay 2014 Dundee Hills, Oregon
Rounded and textural with smooth, ripe apple and citrus fruit. Concentrated and textured with nice finesse. Great concentration, showing some texture, but also some lively citrus fruit on the finish. There’s an inherent richness to this wine. 93/100

The Eyrie Vineyards Rosé of Pinot Noir 2016 Dundee Hills, Oregon
Primary and expressive with sweet cherry fruit and some citrus. Nice subtly creamy texture with a smooth mouth feel. Supple and fine. 88/100

The Eyrie Vineyards Trousseau 2015 Dundee Hills, Oregon
No added sulphites. Fine and sweetly fruited on the nose with black tea and fine herbs. The palate is fine and a bit herby with some spiciness. A bit mousy on the finish. Tastes very natural. Not massively mousy, but there’s a bit there. 88/100 

The Eyrie Vineyards Pinot Meunier 2014 Dundee Hills, Oregon
1965 and 1979 plantings, with more of the latter. Fresh, fine, lively raspberry and red cherry fruit nose. Fine, nervy and expressive. Fresh red fruits palate with lovely green hints and a nice herby edge. Juicy and delicious. 92/100

The Eyrie Vineyards Pinot Noir 2015 Willamette Valley, Oregon
3500 cases. Supple, fine and sweet with lovely fresh, expressive red cherry and plum fruit. Nice texture here, but also some freshness. Fine, juicy and lively. Drinkable with some seriousness. 93/100

eyrie pinot noir

The Eyrie Vineyards Sisters Pinot Noir 2014 Dundee Hills, Oregon
All of the single vineyards Pinot Noirs are fully destemmed and have 18% new oak. A blend of the two different parts of the vineyard: volcanic and sedimentary. Lifted aromatic sweet cherry fruit with subtle, spicy herbal hints. Lovely juiciness and structure with fine spicy notes. Has a spicy warmth on the finish. 93/100

The Eyrie Vineyards Outcrop Pinot Noir 2014 Dundee Hills, Oregon
250 feet high, with a mix of six different soils. Fine herbs on the nose with some sweet cherry and berry fruits. There’s some herby detail here, too. Expressive and quite spicy with a touch of wildness. Lovely fresh, slightly sappy edge. 93/100

The Eyrie Vineyards Roland Green Pinot Noir 2014 Dundee Hills, Oregon
This is 540-720 feet, with volcanic soils. Supple and expressive with a cedary, spicy edge to the juicy cherry and berry fruits. Has a lively fruit character with nicely grippy structure and real finesse. Lovely wine with fine tannic structure. 94/100

The Eyrie Vineyards Daphne Pinot Noir 2014 Dundee Hills, Oregon
At the top of the Dundee Hills at 775-890 feet. This has a lovely juicy purity to it, with fresh supple raspberry and cherry fruit. There’s some nice fruit sweetness here. Very linear and juicy with good purity. Linear and transparent with great acidity. 94/100

The Eyrie Vineyards Pinot Noir Original Vines 2014 Dundee Hills, Oregon
1965-1974 plantings on mixed soils. There’s a savoury, cedary edge to this, with fine red cherries and plums. Fine grained and balanced with a juicy character. Stony and really cedary with lovely finesse. Subtle herby notes, too. A lovely, elegant wine that’s nicely expressive. 94/100

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The Eyrie Vineyards South Block Original Vines Pinot Noir 2013 Dundee Hills, Oregon
Finely aromatic nose with some tea, spice and herb notes. Beautifully expressive with a mellow black fruit character as well as some red cherry notes. Elegant and balanced with some warm herby notes as well as a seamless texture, with fine structure. Such an elegant wine. 95/100

south block pinot eyrie 1990

The Eyrie Vineyards South Block Original Vines Pinot Noir 1990 Dundee Hills, Oregon
So expressive and complex with a bit of spicy lift and beautifully complex, herb-tinged cherry and plum fruit. Beautifully stony and complex with a saline, spicy twist. Fine-grained with a warm spicy finish. This has lovely elegance and purity. Subtle meat and herb notes. Could age further. 95/100

Find these wines with wine-searcher.com

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