One of the best domestic wines I have ever had....
We owe so much to David Lett, our late founding father of Oregon pinot, and his wife Diana. They planted the first pinot noir in the Willamette Valley, put Oregon pinot noir on the global map, and also brought the first pinot gris to the USA. David was a visionary, and the sum of his work has shaped the current Oregon wine scene. David's son, Jason, took over in 2005. David passed away in 2008; read more about his journey in Eric Asimov's article.
It was such a treat the other night to taste David's Eyrie Vineyards 1999 South Block pinot noir. The grapes come from Eyrie Vineyard's south block (formerly an old plum orchard), planted in 1966 and clocking in as the oldest vineyard in Willamette Valley. The farming has always been chemical-free and organic, the winemaking relies on natural yeasts and natural malo. What fascinates me is that these vines are planted on their own roots-- a rarity these days. If it were my job to choose a lineup of wines to support the argument that better and more complex wines can be made from ungrafted vines, this would be in my final flight of evidence.
The Eyrie Vineyards "South Block" pinot noir, 1999 (Willemette Valley, Oregon)
dried cherries, dried leaves, wet earth, mushrooms, truffles, braised strawberries, leather, thyme
Asimov, Eric. (2008) David Lett, Oregon Wine Pioneer, Dies at 69. The New York Times. 2008 Oct 13.