-6-Jason and David(dec’s) in2005 photo by Yoshiji Sato © The Eyrie VineyardsJason enjoying a whole bunch ferment.photo by Yoshiji SatoYoshiji SatoYoshiji became a freelance wine writer in December 2018, after working as theeditor of the wine section in the alcohol industry publication Shuhan News for over20 years. He also oversaw the Australia and New Zealand section of the JapaneseSommelier Association textbook, and was a member of the steering committee forthe Pinot Noir Celebration Japan. The 2015 event included a seminar with JasonLett, and he formed a close relationship with The Eyrie vineyards. During his stay atEyrie, he made 2 barrels of Pinot Noir under Jason’s supervision.◆ Jason’s father was a hero to himWhen I asked Jason ‘What do you think about your father?” he answers in a moment “I loved him.” I asked him the same question on a different occasion, and his answer was immediate and the same. I think it is a quality to envy. Jason explains, “since I was born I’ve seen my father making wine and the winery has been my playground.” For Jason, his father was clearly a hero, and he was inspired by his father’s winemaking.I don’t know all the details, but in 2005 David gave Jason the keys to the winery and complete control of the winemaking. Until that time David had been very demanding of Jason, and when I’m working with Jason I see he has inherited David’s rigor in his approach to winemaking.In my interviews with great winemakers in different countries I have noticed they share commonalities. They all have a strong discipline and processes in place. For example, in the analysis room, how to clean flasks, where to put them, and even how to handle the flasks. From an outsider’s perspective these may be very small things, but for each task they have very clear ideas on how it should be done. Whatever you are doing, each activity is approached with the same clear principles, and over time this creates a sense of order throughout the winery that guides and informs the staff and the winemaking.I think the ability to create this ‘order’ is essential to a being a great winemaker, and Jason has it in the way he values discipline and precision as the main drivers for all activities in the winery. This sense of order started with David, and in applying David’s principles, I can see Jason’s respect for his father. In fact, in both his methods and his mannerisms, I sometimes see David in Jason.As an example, when measuring the acidity of the must (grape juice) using phenolphthalein reagent, accuracy and precision are required to use the flask and pipette (and the flask must be called Erlenmeyer!). I don’t know how many wineries are still doing classic acid titration tests with this reagent on a daily basis, but Jason’s work is beautifully precise and intuitive, and seeing him working I feel the lessons and soul of David. Jason has a very refined sense of smell and taste, and the time spent with his father and accumulative memories of aromas and flavours are at the heart of his very strong drive to make the winemaking process even more precise, even better than his father and hero David. I think this is the reason why the Eyrie style has been so vividly maintained. While I was preparing tests in the analysis room, I saw Jason’s youngest daughter come in to play several times, and also enjoy the experience of pigeage ‒ pressing grapes with your feet. So I really look forward to the future at Eyrie.I asked Jason: “as a second generation, what kind of things are you working on?”“In my father’s time for a single varietal we only made Standard and Reserve wines combining all the plots. These days, it is possible to express the individuality of the wine from a single vineyard bottling by careful picking and winemaking, to bottle and share it with the world. Though we only produce about 10,000 dozen a year, within these small quantities we can clearly shows the characteristics of different vineyards. Pinot Noir especially shows a lot of individual expression, and this is what I would like wine lovers to taste and experience.”◆ The brightness of Original Vine ChardonnayDavid was a pioneer of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris in Oregon, which led to them becoming the predominant varietals in the region. As a result, even though Eyrie produces a Chardonnay of equal quality, its reputation is shaded by them. The Eyrie Original Vines Chardonnay is made from the first Chardonnay vines planted at Eyrie, which still produce golden fruit in spite of the vine age, with huge bunches of grapes that fill the hands. The taste of the wine is impressive, combining a sense of scale, distinguished style and delicacy. It shares these characteristics with the Original Vines Pinot Noir.To objectively evaluate the qualities of the Chardonnay, Jason shares the grapes with local producers he trusts. He wants them to make a Chardonnay from these grapes to spread awareness of their quality. I accompanied Jason while he delivered a barrel of grapes to a winemaker who took a quick look at the grapes, tasted them, and said “I like these a lot.” He offered to pay Jason for them on the spot, which surprised Jason. This short exchange gave me a clear insight into the strong relationships of trust he builds.◆ Pioneering the Trousseau varietal from JuraJason is also actively working to introduce new varietals, planting the first Trousseau vines, a red varietal from the Jura region in France, in the Willamette Valley in 2012. The Jura and Burgundy regions face each other across the 100km span of the Bresse Plain, and have a similar geological age. Jason says he likes the low alcohol, freshness, and mouthfilling characteristics of Trousseau. As a new varietal introduced in to Oregon, I was impressed by the sharp focus of the first vintage in 2016. It seems other producers have already begun planting Trousseau, so in the future Jason could well become the pioneer of Trousseau in Oregon.Spending time with Jason, he is very understated and modest. He is quite happy to listen to others talk, to hear what’s on their minds without saying much. Rather, I think the depths of his personality and philosophy are expressed in his outstanding wines. No matter what variety you prefer, I guarantee you will find something to tickle your fancy among the Eyries.How did Jason Lett follow in the footsteps of his pioneering father David as a second-generation winemaker and further develop the delicate and elegant style of Eyrie Vineyards wines? I think the short answer is that Jason’s personality is a major factor. To conclude my story on Eyrie Wines, I’d like to share my thoughts on generational change at Eyrie. (Yoshiji Sato, Wine Writer)Through my experience in the winery, I learnt the essence of the Eyrie Vineyards. Part 2.Jason Lett and the second generation at Eyrie.The Eyrie Vineyards (Willamette Valley, Oregon)LocalReport

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