Pinot Gris, Original Vines, 2015

  Eyrie Vineyards

Pinot Gris, Original Vines

Produced exclusively from the Original block of Pinot Gris vines, the very first Pinot Gris vines planted in the New World, fermented with natural yeasts, aged in tank for a full year, before bottling without any addition of Sulphur. If anything the Original Vines is a little leaner and more athletic than the estate bottling, with complex orchard fruit and white currants alongside peach and nettle. The finish is immaculately polished. Dry, long and capable of extended cellar ageing. Sadly the Original Vines parcel is under attack from disease, and production totals continue to decrease.

Contains Sulphites.

About Eyrie Vineyards

Eyrie Vineyards were the first people to plant vines in Oregon. It was back in February 1965 that David Lett planted the very first Pinot Noir in the Willamette valley and since that time the Eyrie Vineyards name has become synonymous with modest yet visionary people, producing some of the region’s most elegant and long-lived wines.

Today little has changed, bar perhaps better understanding of what makes these wines so unique. There remains a deep connection between the work in the vines and the wines in the cellar. Jason, David’s son, has been at the helm since 2005 and has made minor tweaks that contribute to greater precision in the wines, but little else. A gentle touch approach in the vineyards (none of the Eyrie vineyards have ever been fertilized; cover crops provide nutrient balance) is carried through into the winery. Fermentations are spontaneous, extractions are still exceptionally gentle, the whites see skin contact and extended lees ageing, and new oak usage in the cellar remains tiny. In an average year just 5 or 6 new barrels are introduced to the 300 in the cellar. Some of the casks are ancient indeed.

All of this adds up to a precise and detailed approach that is only ever delicately applied. The resulting style of the wines, across whites and reds, is one governed by this patient, hands-off winemaking and articulated in a series of gentle and elegant, yet generous and famously age-worthy wines. Power is eschewed in favour of refinement, force makes way for nuance. The Estate Pinot Noir is joined by a number of highly individual single vineyard Pinot Noir selections. Alongside this sit two less obvious red varieties, Trousseau, inspired by a trip to the Jura, and Pinot Meunier – the finest example of this we’ve tasted as a still red wine. In whites the Eyrie production is also famously long lived, perhaps even more so! The Pinot Gris include an estate bottling and one from the Original Vines block. They offer glorious textures and full bodies but also a calm caressing complexity.

Appellation: Dundee Hills

The red iron rich basalt soils of the Dundee hills were where David Lett first established the Eyrie vineyard back in 1965, and in fact almost all early plantings took place here. A small hill range to the south of the Chehalem mountains, it is generally a little warmer than some other AVAs, by virtue of its protected position and distance from the Van Duzer corridor, but still very much affected by night time fogs which cools the clay in the basalt soils long after the sun has come up. These are some of the most classical wines in the valley, red fruited and perfumed but built on iron rich minerals and handsome structures.

Grape Type: Pinot Gris

Pinot Gris is also known as Tokay Pinot Gris in Alsace though the prefix Tokay was dropped to appease the Tokaji Wine governing body in Hungary. This is a slightly spicier and more expressive version of its stablemate, Pinot Blanc, and actually a mutation of Pinot Noir. It is one of the chief dry white varieties in Alsace, but also produces some deliciously sweet, age worthy, late-harvest styles. It is the same grape as northern Italy's Pinot Grigio, Germany's Grauburgunder or Ruländer and Hungary's Szürkebarát and is starting to become fashionable in New Zealand.