wines for lupe

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I have never met Julio Hernandez, the cellarmaster at the Eyrie Vineyards, but during my visit to the winery yesterday, Jason Lett poured me samples of two new wines crafted on his behalf. The La Luz Chardonnay of Oregon, and the La Luz Pinot Noir of Oregon, are non-vintage, one-time-only wines that offer you the chance to do good while drinking well.

Julio’s wife Lupe, I learned, is on daily dialysis and in urgent need of a kidney transplant. Though much of the cost is covered by insurance, the post-surgery, lifetime cost of anti-rejection drugs is not. In order to build a fund for that purpose, Lett has created these special cuvées.

“The idea was to put something closer to people’s price range and create the biggest impact for Lupe in the shortest time,” he explained. The La Luz chardonnay (la luz means “the light”) is all Eyrie estate fruit, most from 2007. It had been earmarked for Jason Lett’s Black Cap wine program, and would have sold for $60, but is now priced at $35. The La Luz pinot is a blend of estate and purchased (Bishop Creek) fruit, and also sells for $35. All profits from the sale of these wines will go to help cover Lupe’s medical expenses. For purchase information, visit the tasting room or the website.

Lett also opened his 2005 Eyrie Reserve, which is about to be released. He elected to hold it until after his 2006 Reserve had been released and sold out. “I’ve been enjoying the legacy of my father,” he noted with a sly grin – “do whatever you want, as long as it’s good for the wine.”

The 2005 Reserve, which was the first Eyrie wine for which he took full responsibility, was a wine I could neither spit nor dump. Even as we toured the cellar, exploring some of Lett’s ongoing vinous experiments (amazing in their own right), I kept a glass of the reserve in hand. It changed constantly, opening to reveal layers of aroma and flavor that had initially been hidden. It made a perfect finale to another fine day exploring Oregon wine country.

The Eyrie Vineyards

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