By: John Majeski | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 9/8/2014 | Send Email
David Lett was barely twenty-five in 1965, fresh out of UC Davis, with a smart detour in Burgundy under his boots and a strong, irrepressible passion to make great wine. So the next year he and his wife Diana transported a few thousand Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and other varietal cuttings up to northern Oregon and christened them on a few acres of pristine, southern-exposed slopes in the Red Hills of Dundee, thirty miles south of Portland. These were the very first Pinot vineyards in the Willamette Valley, and David Lett remained an outspoken, influential and wise presence in the region until his untimely death in 2008, affectionately nicknamed "Papa Pinot" by those who knew, respected and treasured him. I visited Eyrie this spring with several K&L staffers, and was met by David Lett's son Jason, who took over the winery in 2005 and was shepherding it through yet another growing season. Having grown up in the vineyards, he spoke with gentle ease about the sense of bestowed responsibility and challenges—always small production, a distinctive sense of place, uncompromising ethics—that faced the winery as it entered its fifth decade, and of the importance of maintaining the Eyrie style of natural, lithely-textured, aromatically pure, age-worthy wines. A superb example that expressed the magnificent 2012 vintage, the Eyrie "Estate" Pinot was both rounder and riper than in 2011, with more lavish spice, silky red and black cherries and raspberry on the palate, pleasant acidity and a touch of iron earth and bramble on the fine, flavorful finish. A marriage of suave and sensual, and although age-worthy, this promises considerable charm now, as the tannins are well-integrated and impressively smooth. Lett it be!