Eyrie South Block Reserve Pinot Noir 2017
100 points Paul Gregutt: "The Eyrie Vineyards 2017 South Block Reserve Pinot Noir – Planted in 1968 and first bottled as a single block in 1975, these 10 rows of Pinot Noir are as special and iconic as any grapes in Oregon. This legendary bottling was for years cellared at Eyrie and not released. Here is a 'young' wine with almost unbounded aging potential. Elegant, subtle, complex, well-integrated components bring rhubarb, raspberry, pie cherry, tea, a touch of cumin and more flavors into play. After 24 hours baking spices and candied fruits emerge. By any measure this is a stunning achievement that can be enjoyed immediately (with decanting!) or cellared indefinitely – a truly magical wine whose track record of ageability speaks for itself."
It's nearly impossible to capture the importance of Eyrie's South Block. One ten-row section of Eyrie's original plantings, with unique soils, exposure and microclimate, was recognized early by founder David Lett and bottled separately as South Block. In 1979, Eyrie's 1975 South Block was entered into an international wine tasting in Paris; it finished above storied Burgundian Grand Crus. Shocked and displeased with the results, the French staged a redo the following year. Eyrie's '75 South Block finished second, again besting epic Grand Cru Burgundies. The world was on notice: Oregon could produce truly world-class Pinot noir.
Interestingly, David stopped selling South Block shortly thereafter, yet continued to bottle it through 2007, the year before he passed away. 2007 was thought to be the final vintage for South Block but David's son, Jason, decided to revive the South Block bottling in 2013 because he believes there are only ten or so years before it succumbs to phylloxera. It is a tremendous tribute to David Lett and as such, bears his signature.