Here's what the Murphy's Wine Team is drinking this month...
This bottle of Pinot Meunier is a historic rarity. Only a handful of producers in the world bottle a Pinot Meunier and very few can claim to be the first to plant the vines in an esteemed region. David Lett from Eyrie can lay claim to both.
Eyrie vineyards is the godfather of Oregon Winemaking and vineyard planting. Eyrie was officially founded by David and Diana Lett in 1966 when they planted their vineyards in the Red Hills of Dundee, about 30 miles SW of Portland. The Letts settled on the name Eyrie (EYE-ree) after the red-tailed hawks who make their home in the fir trees near the top of their original vineyard plantings. The winery was built in nearby McMinville and the first vintage to be produced and bottled was the 1970. And just five years later, in 1975, The Eyrie Vineyards produced the first American Pinot Noir to compete successfully with the renowned Pinot Noirs of Burgundy. (Paris, 1979; Beaune, 1980).
This Pinot Meunier speaks of place and varietal. It's just a wonderful light bodied red exploding with fresh herbs, meadow flowers and bright red fruits. Perfect for Pinot drinkers that are looking to change it up or Cab drinkers looking to dial it back a touch and try something new. This wine is from biodynamic vineyards and made with a gentle touch in the cellar.
In 2005, Jason Lett took over from his father as winemaker and vineyard manager at The Eyrie Vineyards, and continues his family’s pioneering legacy. Today, total annual production is around 10,000 cases. All wines are estate-grown and produced. In addition to handcrafted Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay, the Eyrie Vineyards also makes limited bottlings of Pinot blanc, Pinot Meunier and Muscat Ottonel. The philosophy of The Eyrie Vineyards, in the vineyards and in the winery, is to interfere as little as possible with the processes of nature. From the beginning, the wines have been made exclusively from hand-harvested grapes grown without the use of insecticides, herbicides or systemic fungicides. The vines are also grown on their own roots, and are not irrigated.
In 1977, Leonetti Cellar was established as the first commercial winery in Walla Walla, Washington by Gary and Nancy Figgins. Gary’s grandparents, Francesco and Rosa Leonetti immigrated to Washington from Calabria, Italy in the early 1900’s and purchased a plot of land to farm in 1906. Little did they know, over a century later Leonetti Cellar would be producing some of the most prestigious wines in the Pacific Northwest.
Perhaps I am slightly biased; I grew up in Eastern Washington just a few hours away from the quiet, friendly and quaint town of Walla Walla. The drive to my annual family reunion was always curvy and filled with constant ear popping due to the gorgeous rolling hills and steep rocky cliffs. Once you wind around the last bend and finally reach the Walla Walla Valley, it is astoundingly picturesque. Home of Whitman College, a symphony, several beautiful parks and art galleries and many delicious restaurants, this small town has a vibrant, cultured community and offers a lovely place to live for people of all walks of life.
Walla Walla is also agriculturally rich and produces crops of sweet onions, potatoes, wheat and of course our favorite: wine grapes. I particularly enjoy Leonetti’s 2017 Merlot. This wine sees 15 months in oak and is primarily Merlot, yet it has a touch of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon to help support the silky texture it offers. The official tasting note describes this wine as ‘ripe bramble fruits and cream bursting from the glass as if you reduced raspberries and blackberries on the stove and poured them over homemade vanilla ice cream.’ It has subtle tannins and has a hint of dark cocoa powder laced in between pure fruit character and an unbelievable texture.
This description is perfect for the wine, especially this vintage, and also hits home as I feel rather nostalgic thinking of my extended relatives gathering in Pioneer park over ice cream and homemade raspberry jam and chocolate sauce made by my late aunt Nancy.
This is the perfect wine to enjoy with family, friends or your Valentine.
Wine Shop Manager
Delinquente means delinquent in Italian, a nod to winemaker Con-Greg Grigoriou’s tendency to break the rules and do things his own way.
Grigoriou is a native of the Riverland wine region in Australia, which can be very hot and very dry. Therefore he chooses to work only with varietals native to Southern Italy – varietals that are naturally drought resistant, ripen later, and retain more acidity. The resultant wines are lower in alcohol (compared to other Aussie wines) but with loads of freshness and flavor. Grigoriou describes them as ‘crushable.’
The 2021 ‘Pretty Boy’ is a rosé of Nero d’Avola sourced exclusively from The Bassham Family Vineyard. Lush strawberries and cream on the nose; super refreshing raspberry and rose water on the front palate, but it’s the savory notes that are really shining through on this wine and continue to impress – herbaceous and acid driven to keep it all working together. As with all Delinquente wines, it is small-batch and single-vineyard, fermented in stainless steel with wild yeast using only organically farmed fruit.
February is rosé season.