The locals joked last night at the famous Nick’s Italian Café in McMinnville, Oregon in the heart of Willamette Valley wine country: there used to be a tube, they told me, that connected the Lett family’s winery to the restaurant. Their Eyrie Vineyards cellar is just a stone’s throw away (literally).
David Lett made history when he singlehandedly launched the Oregon fine wine trade in the twentieth century. His story as a pioneer of American viticulture has been told many times and his renown as a winemaker has touched all corners of the globe.
Last night at Nick’s, where the wine list includes the largest vertical library of the Lett family’s wines in the world (they say), we drank the 2016 Pinot Gris and the 2014 Pinot Noir Original Vines.
Such beautiful, pure, and elegant expressions of Oregon grape growing and winemaking, these “entry tier” wines represent the greatest value in American wine today imho. They still land at a “special occasion” price for our family but they are within reach. And I couldn’t think of a better pairing for my meal (Pinot Gris for Nick’s Caesar and Pinot Noir for the locally farmed pork three ways).
Their organically farmed, they’re spontaneously fermented, the whites undergo unprovoked malolactic fermentation (said Jason Lett when I tasted with him earlier this year). They couldn’t be more natural and they couldn’t be more naturally and classically delicious.
Tracie and I drink them every chance we get. And I drank the last glasses of each at the McMinnville Comfort Inn last night, a sweet coda to a long but fruitful week of traveling and working.
No regrets, Coyote. Heading home to Texas, Tracie, and my girls today. I can’t wait to hold them… Wish me speed!