Oregon Pinot Lightens Up

on 24/02/11 at 6:52 pm


Oregon Pinot Noir is shifting back towards the lighter style upon which it originally built its reputation, according to the son of the winemaker who originally put this US state on the world wine map.

Visiting the UK on the 46th anniversary of his father David Lett’s pioneering first vineyard plantings in the Willamette Valley, The Eyrie Vineyards owner and winemaker Jason Lett suggested of his compatriots: “We might have taken the wrong turn a little with our Pinot Noir style. “We swung very far in the direction of extract and power, with alcohol creeping towards 15% and the colours you’d associate with a Cabernet.”

However, Lett now observes: “Estates which associated with that style are shifting back.” He attributes this change to the situation where “owners are gaining the trust of their investors,” adding: “I always felt the winemakers never wanted to make those wines; it was the guys with the purse strings.”

Moreover, Lett is confident that Oregon can maintain its reputation for quality, thanks in part to blending restrictions which are the strictest in the US. While other states are allowed to include up to 25% of different grape varieties to the one mentioned on the label, the Oregon authorities stipulate that this level can be just 10%. “And I don’t know anyone who blends any at all,” adds Lett, observing: “I think we do feel compelled to represent the high ground.”

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