The Eyrie Vineyards, Willamette Valley Estate Pinot Noir
The Eyrie Vineyards, Willamette Valley Estate Pinot Noir

The Eyrie Vineyards, Willamette Valley Estate Pinot Noir

Oregon, United States 2021 (750mL)
Regular price$59.00

The Eyrie Vineyards, Willamette Valley Estate Pinot Noir

It’s always a special day when we get to offer The Eyrie Vineyards’ Pinot Noir, because how often do you get to say the following: This is the wine that kickstarted one of the world’s greatest growing regions. Eyrie founder David Lett was the first person to plant Pinot in the Willamette Valley, and for over five decades, Eyrie has been the region’s benchmark producer. In its heady, dark-fruited perfume, its fusion of sumptuousness and structure, Eyrie’s 2021 Estate Pinot Noir is both a testament to David Lett’s vision and a fantastically delicious sip. It’s also one of the world’s great values in Pinot, a bottle to match Premier Cru Burgundy in every category except, of course, price.  A bottle of Eyrie is about as classically-minded and as distinguished as American Pinot gets. If you want to know the Willamette Valley, you have to know The Eyrie Vineyards. Don’t miss your chance!

*Note: due to the winery’s holiday schedule we anticipate shipping the Eyrie wines in the second week of January.

The story of The Eyrie Vineyards begins in 1965, when David Lett, not even 25 years old at the time, planted the very first vines in the Willamette Valley. He’d studied enology and viticulture at UC Davis, and had spent a year in Europe studying grape growing. But that was all he had—he showed up in Oregon with nothing to his name, but some vines he’d brought back from Burgundy. He also had the conviction that Oregon would be the most promising location in the country to grow Burgundian varieties. Eventually, with the help of his wife, Diana, he found a site in the Red Hills of Dundee that met his standards, and proceeded to plant Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Alongside them he also put Pinot Gris, actually the first known planting of the variety in the United States.

What did David see in this site? Elevation high enough such that topsoil wasn’t too thick, but low enough for the summer’s warmth to fully ripen grapes, and a combination of Nekia and Jory soils, both volcanic in origin, that provided ideal growing conditions. The ground would soak up enough water to feed the vines during the growing season, but always drain easily before they could get too much. The south-facing aspect meant full exposure to the sun. And the hill’s steep slope allowed dangerous winter frosts to run downhill without damaging the vines. It turned out he knew what he was doing. Not only was this where it all started for the Willamette, but the Eyrie estate vineyards continue to be regarded as some of the Valley’s Grand Cru sites. 

Since those early days, the property has grown to encompass five distinct vineyards, all of which go into today’s wine. They’ve all been farmed organically from day one; insecticides, herbicides, and system sprays have never touched these soils. Winemaking proceeds today more or less as it did in the early days. The only temperature control the Letts have is daytime and nighttime air, fermentations happen spontaneously, and fruit is pressed with an old, out of fashion, but very gentle Wilmes press. Eyrie Pinot Noir is timeless in its classicism.

Treat the 2021 Eyrie Pinot Noir as you would a Premier or Grand Cru bottling, served in large Burgundy bowls, given a quick decant if you like. It pours a shimmering ruby, and the nose is a masterclass in pointillist Willamette perfume—deep black raspberry, boysenberry, black cherry, redcurrant, cola nut, dried herbs, faint smoke, and rose petal. The palate is initially broad and pliant thanks to the warm 2021 vintage, before taught acidity snaps things together and closes out the turned-earth finish. The tannins here are finely grained but present, a definite harbinger of some great medium term aging potential. But really, it’s such pitch-perfect Pinot right now, you’ll be forgiven if you drink it all right away. Best to stock up on plenty just in case!

The Eyrie Vineyards, Willamette Valley Estate Pinot Noir

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