Eyrie Vineyards Releases Historic Library Wines!

David Lett, or “Papa Pinot,” as he was known to many, was the trailblazer of the world of Oregon wine. He and his wife, Diana, were the first to plant Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay vineyards in Oregon. When the 1975 South Block Reserve Pinot Noir showed extraordinarily well at the Wine Olympiad in Paris in 1979 and then again in Burgundy the next year, the reputation of Eyrie Vineyards and of Oregon wine in general skyrocketed. David was an avid collector of his own wines, amassing an amazing library that now demonstrates that Oregon produces wines that rival any in the world. These wines also demonstrate the age-worthiness of the best Oregon wines and of Eyrie wines in particular.

Since David’s death in 2008, his son, Jason, has carried on his father’s legacy, honoring the elegant style his father established and vouching safe the continued standing of Eyrie as the reference point Oregon winery. Jason is currently presiding over the careful release of their legendary library of wines, many of which have never been available! He says that these older vintages provide a “context,” as he puts it, for understanding the potential of Eyrie wines to not only endure for decades, but to develop depth and complexity in the process. I was privileged to attend a tasting of the first set of wines to be made available under this library-release program. Jason explained how the wines underwent an extra-ordinary 21-stage process during which, “...each bottle is tasted and the top quality bottles re-assembled in a new cuvee, so that every bottle will be the same going forward without variation. The re-assembled cuvees are rebottled and re-corked with the new DIAM closure that assures no cork taint. The entire 21-step process takes place under inert gas to prevent any exposure to oxygen during the process.” Their brutal culling process (over the course of many months Jason and his staff tasted every single bottle!) resulted in the discarding of hundreds of bottles of wine. So, due to Eyrie’s unique methodology, unlike other older wines, we are assured of the quality of each and every bottle.

      Jason and David Lett

These are a few of my notes on some of the wines I tasted: The 1992 Pinot Gris was a revelation! Who knew that Pinot Gris could achieve this level of depth and complexity, let alone one from Oregon and not Alsace. And this Gris is certainly reminiscent of an Alsatian wine: it showed hints of pear, honey and heather on the nose and palate and it had the rich texture of a late harvest wine without the sweetness. $86.50 each.  Order.

The 1995 Reserve Chardonnay drinks is ripe, complex and would show well along side the world’s finest Chardonnays! The 1975 Eyrie Reserve Chardonnay made their Chardonnays famous when it placed second in a tasting of white Burgundies held by Joseph Drouhin, and they have rarely been available these past 30 years or so. While 1995 was a challenging vintage, given that it rained at harvest, this wine has depth, structure and balance along with the wonderful aged character that great white Burgundies are capable of developing. While at its peak now, this wine is so well balanced, and the re-bottling so meticulous, that I think it will continue to please for at least several more years. We have 6 bottles of this precious wine at $165 each.  Order.

The 1993 Pinot Meunier was another revelation. I have never had an aged Pinot Meunier and was astounded at the charming complexity and depth of this wine. Here again, rain persisted during harvest making for another questionable vintage. Yet, like so many other Oregon vintages initially dismissed only to be later redeemed, the 1993 vintage has become a classic. The nose showed fascinating overtones of persimmons and anise. On the palate I tasted hints of cranberry and sour cherry fruit leather. The finish was long and engaging, with the patina of age showing nicely. They would only sell us three of these beauties. $170 each.  Order.

1999 South Block Pinot Noir - Finally, we come to the Pinot Noir from Eyrie’s iconic South Block. This wine is comprised of a mere 10 rows of Wadenswill clones that only produce a few barrels of wine a year. David didn’t sell wine from the South Block after it became world famous in Paris. On the nose, the sensual smells of forest floor and mushrooms make it an easy comparison to some of the finest examples of Pinot Noir anywhere. Tasting this delicate, alluring wine, with notes of red currents, dried strawberries, and ripe earth, confirmed the analogy. This is quintessential Oregon Pinot Noir and again, while eminently drinkable and delicious now, it will maintain its character and complexity a good number of years longer. We have 6 bottles for sale at $250 each.  Order.

Each of these wines would show quite well with the best of their types in the world. Put in this context, and due to their rarity, extraordinary provenance, and unique process of rebottling, they are actually amazing bargains. Jason Lett’s extraordinary imagination, determination and commitment to his father’s legacy have made possible a unique opportunity to experience the potential of Oregon wines. We are honored to be able to offer these rare gems for sale.

(The Marguerite is a selection of his best, and is David Lett’s tribute to his granddaughter. Exquisite, a true gift to us all!) $81.50  Order.

Older wines available from Eyrie:
  • 1992 Eyrie Estate Pinot Gris - $86.50  
  • 1993 Eyrie Estate Chardonnay - $145  
  • 1995 Eyrie Reserve Chardonnay - $165  
  • 1993 Eyrie Estate Pinot Meunier - $170  
  • 1986 Eyrie Estate Pinot Noir - $215  
  • 1983 Eyrie South Block Pinot Noir - $425  
  • 1999 Eyrie South Block Pinot Noir - $250  

And these current releases warrant consideration:

  • 2011 Eyrie Original Vines Pinot Gris - $31.50  
  • 2011 Eyrie Estate Chardonnay - $25.95  
  • 2010 Eyrie Original Vines Reserve Chardonnay - $45.50  
  • 2011 Eyrie Estate Pinot Blanc - $17.50  
  • 2010 Eyrie Estate Pinot Noir - $31.50  
  • 2009 Eyrie Reserve Pinot Noir - $58.95  
  • 2009 Eyrie Daphne Pinot Noir (Limited) - $75.50  
  • 2007 Eyrie South Block Pinot Noir (Limited)- $215  
  • 2000 Eyrie Marguerite Pinot Noir - $81.50  
You can see all the selections from Eyrie here.

Home | Shop | About Us | Wine Clubs | Recipes | Wine Reference | Contact Us | For Spiders

© 2007-2012 Oregon Wine Merchants - All rights reserved.