2017 The Eyrie Vineyards, Pinot Meunier, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
This is a very distinctly old world style wine, made from 100% Meunier, with burst of tart cherries and an earthy character, reminding me of an old school Fleurie Cru Beaujolais, especially after getting some air it gains dimension of a striking floral nature and a leathery element with added layers of wild plum, red current and strawberry fruits, accented by herbal tones, mineral, baking spices, violets and orange peel. Tangy fresh and with silky tannins, even in warm and ripe year this wine shows off is vibrant natural acidity, making for a medium bodied wine that is wonderfully detailed and balanced, best served slightly chilled and with food, which will allow the fruit to fill out and open up its complexity. The Eyrie estate vineyards are all certified organic, and two of the three local growers they purchase fruit from are also certified organic, while the third is organic, but not officially certified. Lett uses native/natural fermentations and old barrels for aging with a small percentage of whole cluster, with his Pinots especially this works brilliantly to showcase vintage nuance and terroir and this Meunier benefits from his approach and I am very impressed with the raw allure of this dark garnet and sultry wine.
Jason Lett, winemaker here at Eyrie, is a second generation winegrower, his dad David Lett, an Oregon legend, pioneered both Pinot Noir and its white wine cousin Pinot gris in the Willamette Valley, the two grapes that have defined Oregon wine the last three decades. David established the style of authentic wines with his artisanal, individualistic, transparent and even idiosyncratic in the state, that many later arrivals here been inspired by. David and Diana Lett founded Eyrie in the early 70s and had even back then believed in sustainable farming, an idea that was way before the current push toward holistic wine growing. Lett the younger is very much keeping the faith and things at The Eyrie Vineyard remain purposefully rustic and charming with a set of iconic Pinot Noirs, as well as still doing Pinot Gris, with some bottlings seeing skin contact for both a orange wine and a delicate Rosé like version, plus some interesting alternative varietals, like this Meunier, a Chasseles Doré, Trousseau, Pinot Blanc and Muscat. In fact, Jason Lett planted the Willamette Valley’s first Trousseau vines and his version of this Jura grape is highly coveted, and I think if people get this Meunier in their glass it will also attract a significant following, if it already doesn’t. This rare 2017 The Eyrie Meunier, the lesser known Champagne grape, has lots to admire, which the Dundee volcanic soils add to, makes for a deviously good wine and I look forward to seeing what the next vintage looks like.
($40 ESt.) 93 Points, grapelive