February 22, 2005

Oregon Wine Magazine

Anyone ever read the Oregon Wine Magazine? This is a long running monthly newspaper-like publication that at times mystifies me with its folkiness, but on occasion delights with true insights into the people behind Oregon wine. The lastest example is the February 2005 edition, which features a terrific interview with David Lett.

Unfortunately the editorial staff neglected to include the NAME of Lett's groundbreaking winery, The Eyrie Vineyard. At least until the very end of the multi-page article. Sure, "Papa Pinot" is the legend of Oregon wine, the first to come north and plant vinifera exactly 40 years ago this month. But if you want to preach beyond the choir, don't you want to drop the assumption that everyone knows Lett's winery? Maybe I ought to offer my copyediting services.

Still, that's a relatively minor quibble. The article is classic David Lett, full of strong opinions and no compromise to current fashions in wine. That is, wines made from grapes verging on the overripe, wines that gush fruit flavors but have little flavor complexity, length, or nuance. Wines that hit you over the head, then disappear on your palate. Of course, one man's disaster is another's cellar treasure, so Lett offers one opinion, albeit a strong one. If you don't agree, at least consider his advice - when everyone is planting the hot grape of the month, you should be ripping it out to stay ahead of the curve. If that's not your farming style, I think the lesson might be that when almost everyone seems to be making pinot on steriods, it might be time to take your own winemaking back to Lett's model. Pick ripe but not overripe, age in older wood, ferment with patience to create a wine that's brightly acidic and built for development in the bottle. Who knows, maybe such wines will return to the mainstream, no matter how crazy that sounds today. It's worked for David Lett.

Oregon Wine Magazine isn't on the web, but apparently you can request a free copy through the Oregon Wine Press website - http://www.oregonwinepress.com/COM_0005.HTM

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