"The 2003 Pinot Noir Reserve is the product of an exceptionally challenging hot vintage in which successes were the exception. Somehow The Eyrie Vineyards was able to produce a wine of elegance and grace. The wine was aged entirely in seasoned oak. Light to medium ruby in color, it has an enticing perfume of cherry and raspberry, a silky smooth texture, concentrated flavors, and a lengthy finish. It may lack the depth and richness of a great year but it is a superb effort in the 2003 vintage." -Wine Advocate
"Unlike many new world Pinots that are over-extracted and heavy, [Eyrie 2003 Reserve Pinot noir] is a lesson in finesse and delicacy with a lithe texture and flavors of herbs, minerals, hibiscus and tart red fruit." Food & Wine: Wine Guide ‘08.
David Lett, aka “Papa Pinot”, was the first visionary to realize that Oregon’s Willamette Valley was the best place in the world to grow the finest Pinot Noir outside of Burgundy. In the early 1960s Lett explored high-quality Pinot growing possibilities around the world and discovered the “secret” from the French that the finest wines come from grapes which grow at the climatic edge of where they will ripen in coincidence with the end of the growing season. David and Diana Lett planted the Willamette Valley’s first cool climate vinifera wine grapes in 1966 and produced their first vintage in 1970. David Lett passed away in 2008.
Today, his son Jason manages the The Eyrie Vineyards. The philosophy and style have not changed. The vineyards are farmed organic, vines are old, yields kept low, yeasts are native, alcohols low, acids balanced, winemaking non-interventist, new oak very minimal to non-existant. The achievement is ageworthy, characterful wines of finesse, elegance and food friendliness. The Eyrie Vineyards was named for the home (eye-ree) of red-tailed hawks that share the Lett's vineyard land in the Dundee Hills.
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Named for the river that runs through the valley from Portland to Eugene, Willamette Valley is home to some of the best Pinot Noir vineyards in the Northwest. While along the same north/south line as Seattle, the Willamette Valley is protected from Pacific rains by the Coast Range on the western border and the Cascade Ranges to the east. Though sunshine is typically plentiful, rainfall can occasionally be tricky, and the wines here vary vintage to vintage. Within the Willamette Valley is a number of sub-regions, including McMinnville, Dundee and Yamhill.
The valley is known for its Pinots – Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. With a climate similar to Burgundy – in rainfall, sunlight hours and other climate factors – Pinot Noir has flourished here. Pinot Noir in Oregon produces wines that are fruit forward, yet complex, some with good agebility.
Other than Pinot Noir, many wineries grow Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. Pinot Gris from Oregon is delightful in its texture and food friendliness. Chardonnay in the valley adapts well to the cool climate and produces lean, elegant wines.
Oregon has long been an agricultural state, producing everything from hazelnuts to cattle. The Willamette Valley in particular is a fertile basin for all sorts of produce. Not quite pegged as a wine state, in 1965, a UC Davis graduate named David Lett decided that the Willamette's climate mirrored that of Burgundy in France. With that in mind, he decided to plant some Pinot Noir clones to see how they did. And a good gamble it was. The Willamette is now one of the only regions in the world to focus solely on Pinot Noir as its red variety. Also known for Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. The southern part of Oregon has been slower in delving into the world wine market, but has been making excellent strides with their Rhone style varietals, like Syrah and Grenache. There are also coastal regions producing promising wines.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.