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Eyrie Reserve Chardonnay 1999

Chardonnay from Willamette Valley, Oregon
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    Winemaker Notes

    The grapes for Eyrie Reserve Chardonnay come from a section of the vineyard winemaker David Lett singles out as consistently producing superior fruit. The Reserve Chardonnay is aged in Oregon oak, which particularly complements Eyries Chardonnay, and comes from a collection of clones know as the Draper Selection (a variety of European clones imported in the mid 1930s that contributes greatly to the complexity of the wine). Like Eyries vintage Chardonnay, the Reserve has great finesse and balance and emphasizes fruit.

    Critical Acclaim

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    Eyrie
    Eyrie, Willamette Valley, Oregon
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    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.

    Willamette Valley

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    One of Pinot Noir’s most successful New World outposts, the Willamette Valley is the largest and most important AVA in Oregon. With a temperate climate moderated by a Pacific Ocean influence, it is perfect for cool-climate viticulture—warm and dry summers allow for steady, even ripening, and frost is rarely a risk during spring and even winter. Mountain ranges bordering three sides of the valley, particularly the Chehalem Mountains, provide the option for higher-elevation, cooler vineyard sites. The three prominent soil types here create significant differences in wine styles between vineyards and sub-AVAs. The iron-rich, basalt-based Jory volcanic soils found commonly in the Dundee Hills are rich in clay and hold water well; the chalky, sedimentary soils of Ribbon Ridge, Yamhill-Carlton, and McMinnville encourage complex root systems as vines struggle to search for water and minerals. The silty loess found in the Chehalem Mountains, somewhere in between the other two in texture, is fertile and well-draining but erodes easily, creating challenges for growers but necessitating careful vineyard management.

    The celebrated Pinot Noir of the Willamette Valley typically offers supple red fruit, especially cranberry, without the powerful punch often packed by its California counterparts. Elegance is paramount here, and fruit flavors are balanced by forest floor, wild mushroom, and dried herbs—much more in line with Burgundian examples of the variety. Chardonnay too takes its inspiration from the French motherland, focusing on tart, crisp fruit and minerality, rarely relying upon heavy new oak. Pinot Gris here is fleshy and bright, and Riesling is dry, aromatic, and citrus-focused.

    Chardonnay

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    One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it’s grown and how it’s made. In Burgundy, Chardonnay produces some of the finest white wines in the world, typically tending towards minimal intervention in the winery and at its best resulting in remarkable longevity. This grape is popular throughout the world, but perhaps its second most important home is in California, where both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines enjoy great popularity. Oregon, Australia, South America, South Africa, and New Zealand are also significant producers of Chardonnay.

    In the Glass

    When planted on cool sites, Chardonnay’s flavors tend towards grapefruit, green apple, minerals, and white stone fruit, while warmer locations coax out richer, more tropical flavors of fig, melon, and pineapple. Oak can add notes of vanilla, coconut, and spice (as well as texture), while malolactic fermentation can impart soft, buttery acidity.

    Perfect Pairings

    Chardonnay is as versatile at the table as it is in the vineyard. The crisp, clean, Chablis-like styles go well with simple seafood, light chicken dishes, and salads. Richer Chardonnays marry well with cream or oil-based sauces.

    Sommelier Secret

    Since the 1990s, big, oaky, buttery Chardonnays from California have enjoyed explosive popularity. More recently, the pendulum has begun to swing in the opposite direction, towards a clean, crisp style that rarely utilizes new oak. These Old-World style wines have been dubbed the “New California Chardonnays,” and anyone who claims they do not like Chardonnay should give them a try.

    NWL382175_1999 Item# 50690