2007 St. Innocent Momtazi - Why is this a Controversial Wine?

“I Love this wine.” Steve Saxon, 5/26/11. [rofl.gif]

“Worst Wine I have tasted this year.” RH, 5/26/11

Six poor souls tasted this as part of a tasting of CA and OR PNs dating from 1982 - 2008, some good, more not so good, bit an interesting tasting nonetheless. Notwithstanding Saxon’s comment, this was, without a doubt, at the bottom of the wines, below the DOA '84 Mount Eden Estate and several other wines that were overly sweet, but which I did not not bother writing down (okay, one was an R-M Summa Old Vies and another was a Copain). IIRC correctly, the highest score for thie Momtazi was a 68, which I thought was overly generous. I thought it was a curly joe dirita. In retrospect, it was an emil sitka.

I have always loved St. Innocent Pinot Noirs and began with the 1991 and bought every vintage through 2000. I was always a Freedom Hill Vineyard enthusiast but have enjoyed the Brickhouse, 7 Springs, and my very first was something called O’Connor Vineyard (sp?). Anyway, I loved 1994’s and especially Mark’s 1998’s! This is just background to show I have no axe to grind here.

Tonight we had a slew of Pinots, probably 10 in all with a local tasting group. The 2007 St. Innocent Momtazi like all the others was poured blind. My note is pretty unsavory:

The nose screams pickle juice, no, I’m not kidding. Vegetal aromas and flavors of dill pickle and brussel sprouts. On the palate the vegetal and minerality continued on and the only nice thing I can say about this wine is that it was smooth and nicely textured. In the mouth it was concentrated, with no apparent sign of anything I could possibly relate to as fruit flavor, a tannic mess. It was literally the worst wine I’ve tasted this year. That’s saying a lot because I came home from an international judging competition two weeks ago in Europe and had rated a handful of wines between 70-80. This made those bottlings look palateable. I am not sure if this was a bad bottle but there was no apparent organoleptic flaw beyond it being so badly vegetal, but several people at the table who have had this before swore this was the best bottle they’ve yet to try. I was horrified to think that this could possibly have been made by St. Innocent which has always been one of my benchmark producers in Oregon for Pinot Noir.

I was the the highest score at the table and was chastised for being too generous with my 68 points.

Fuck you Jeff [middle-finger.gif] , I said I loved the wine because it proved my tasting note from before was correct…it was like drinking mud! Worst Or. Pinot I’ve ever had and Roy agreed with me.

This was my 4th bottle of this wine and every time it’s been crap. People talk about bottle variation but I haven’t seen it, all I see is a winery producing a flawed product and trying to justify it. If it’s a bad vintage they should lower the price for the wine…like they do for Bordeaux.

We did have a couple of nice wines though…but they were pre 1990 vintages.

Some serious bottle variation here because my wife enjoyed this and she’s quite sensitive to vegetal aromas and flavors in wine. I thought that the fruit was in the background but still liked it. 89

O’Connor Vineyard now is Zenith Vineyard - we bought it in 2002.

I would be hesitant to judge a producer (St. Innocent, my partner winery and a 25% owner of Zenith) on one wine or one vintage. 2007 was a difficult vintage and if you are Biodynamic like Momtazi you take a few tools out of the tool kit to deal with a wet, late harvest. I’m not aware of any approach within the Biodynamic tool kit that is effective against botrytis. Perhaps that is why Kevin Chambers (CEO of Oregon Vineyard Supply - where we buy all of our chemistry) gave up his Biodynamic certification on Resonance Vineyard.

I would wonder about your source for this wine, Steve, but the problem was not that it was cooked or mishandled after bottling, that I could taste. It was just an unpleasant wine. And I’ll add that I usually like the St. Innocent wines, especially the Shea Vineyard ans Seven Springs wines.

Serenade or Sonata are both OMRI listed and would be fine to use with BD certification.

I bought a 6 pack from Envoyer on close out for $20 per…3 bottles so far and all horribly bad.


Roy drinks a lot of port so it probably wasn’t sweet enough for him.

Steve has no palate, that explains that.

But Twersky? Really Jeff, it was THAT bad?


(Glad I was stuck @ work!)

We were too. [smileyvault-ban.gif]


Strange things are afoot with this wine. As I’ve posted before, 500+ IPNC seminar tasters were subjected to it blind in a very focused setting. Not the fast paced evening tasting, but the seated morning session where you have 30+ minutes to focus on just 4 or 5 wines.

I didn’t hear any protests or claims about the wine being overtly flawed, undrinkable or even objectionable. Such rumblings would be hard to miss considering the close proximity between tasters. My notes were generally positive describing it as minerally and slightly herbal with spiced red fruit and some youthful marginally bitter tannins. I certainly didn’t notice any mud, pickle juice or brussel sprouts.

Still, enough people have tasted Saxon’s particular bottles (or other bottles, apparently from the same source) to confirm that something’s wrong.


This is even stranger than when Harvey Steiman gave 3 Bethel Heights wines scores of between 77 and 83. WTF?

Wonder if anyone has tried returning them? I have a 3 pack. I am curious to open one soon tho.

But 2007’s are all great!

I say you send all of your bottles to Bob Wood!

Richard - you think the IPNC non-feedback was a case of the group not wanting to offend the producer, who (I presume) was right there? Would have seemed ungracious.

Although I haven’t bought tons of his wines, I have generally quite enjoyed Mark’s wines. These things can just happen once in a while.

Jesus Christ, Chris. No one ever said they were all great.

I had this at the IPNC tasting and it did show fine. And back when we had the original discussion on this (4 months ago?), I opened a bottle bought directly at the winery and it showed fairly well - definitely a mineral driven wine, but still showing some fruit. The bottle last night was pretty much devoid of fruit, and yes it was vegetal. For me it was short of pickles and sprouts, but it was not a good bottle of wine.

It probably didn’t help that this was the first wine tasted after a flight of new Cali wines (Windy Oaks, Copain, Alesia, Rivers-Marie) a couple of which - particularly the WO - showed a little sweet - at least compared to the older wines that preceded them.

It may be at least a passingly interesting experiment to open my remaining bottle of known provenance with another of these - since to Steve’s delight I am the ‘sort of’ proud owner of his remaining stash, and maybe throw in an 07 Kelley Fox Momtazi too. But this would seem to be the way the wine has evolved vs just bad bottles.

Too easy.

[rofl.gif] [rofl.gif] [rofl.gif]

Got me.

It probably didn’t help that this was the first wine tasted after a flight of new Cali wines (Windy Oaks, Copain, Alesia, Rivers-Marie) a couple of which - particularly the WO - showed a little sweet - at least compared to the older wines that preceded them.

In all honesty, that did not matter, I went back and forth through the next flight and kept going back to the Momtazi to check in on it. It never improved, no matter what came before it, or after it. Steve S. was sitting next to me, but had zero influence on what I tasted (never does!). This was just bad Pinot Noir. Really bad. newhere

Had I opened this at home, I’d have waited 15 or 20 mins. then poured it down the drain.