Eyrie Pinot Gris Willamette 10
Founded by David Lett in 1966, this is one of the original Oregon wineries - an iconic property and an American Classic. Lett, whose son Jason now runs the property, earned a degree from Davis, went to Europe and returned with 3,000 grape cuttings and was the first to plant Pinot Noir in the Willamette Valley and the first in the US to plant Pinot Gris. The Winery is named after the Hawks that nest in the trees surrounding the vineyards.
The style of the wines can best be described as elegent and understated, all biodynamically farmed, with the goal to craft fine, balanced wines that are never too ripe or heavy. Harvesting is carefully controlled to acheive perfect ripeness but never too much, maintaining a pure definition and structure that is more Burgundian than anything else. Gentle treatment in the winery includes minimal racking, extended lees contact, and native yeasts. The reds wines are approachable young but also have an ability to age for many years.
The 2010 Pinot Gris is very much in the Alsace style - fullish with good concentration and medium body. Chardonnay-like in weight but totally different in varietal character with a mild clover honey scent, a stony note, hints of pear and a little nutty component, with good body and nice supporting acidity. An American classic and a wine that is part of Oregon history! Drink this now and over the next year or so with lobster, scallops, meaty fish, Thai, Asian, chicken, salads or all on its own.
Wine type: White
Varietals: Pinot Gris (Grigio)
Vineyard: 100% estate vineyards : 44% Daphne, 38% Sisters, 14% Eyrie, 4% Rolling Green
Orientation: South and South-Southeast
Soil: 81% Jory and 19% Woodburn
Viticulture: Vines are non-irrigated, own-rooted, Guyot-trained, on 10' x 6' spacing. We use no herbicides, systemic chemicals or insecticides. Vineyards floors are maintained with a native cover and no tillage. Hand havested.
Vinification: Eyrie Pinot Gris differs from many of its brethren because we treat it with the same respect as we do our Pinot noir. Restrained yields give intensity. The grapes are destemmed and undergo a long (4 hour) cycle in a basket press to dejuice. The wine is allowed to follow natural fermentation curves in small stainless tanks
Aging: The elevage is slow and unforced, requiring a full year or more before bottling more than twice the time allowed to most New World Pinot gris. Over this time the flavors captured during fermentation are released back into the wine. The result is freshness and seamlessness without heaviness.
Production: 3000 cases
From Polaner Selections website: 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 in the fir trees near the top of their original vineyard plantings. The winery was build in nearby McMinville and 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 at The Eyrie Vineyards, and continues his family’s pioneering legacy. Today, total annual production is around 10,000 cases. 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 vines are also grown on their own roots, and are not irrigated.
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 great care is taken not to compromise these flavors. This means minimal racking, extended lees contact, complete and spontaneous native fermentations, no fining, minimal filtration, etc. This gentle treatment creates wines which are very approachable when young but also with a (now legendary) ability to age for decades.
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