2005 St. Innocent Pinot Noir Justice Vineyard- USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley (7/26/2009)
Doubled decanted for approximately 3 hours before serving. The nose on this started out with some dark fruits and spice, but it was quickly overwhelmed by oak. Mainly dill notes that I found very off-putting. The palate, however, did some seem so dominated by oak. It had a clean fruit-dominated profile and was nicely lightweight with plenty of livening acidity. Not really a pleasure to open this one right now. Hopefully it will integrate the oak aromas and come out strong on the other side. We’ll see.
2007 St. Innocent Pinot Noir Temperance Hill- USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley (7/30/2009)
I agree with the previous note, that this wine smells and tastes green. It is sour on the palate and the moment, and it smells that way too. Not really pleasant to drink right now. This may be underfruited and underripe, but it may just need time too. I’ve seen plenty of Burgundies show this way when shut down. Left half the bottle to try again, will update. Update: after a couple days at cellar temperature, this did fill out a bit on the palate to show some pleasant fruitiness, but the nose was still sour smelling and kind of off-putting. Verdict: needs time desperately, but may not overcome its greenness/oak treatment.
2007 St. Innocent Chardonnay Freedom Hill Vineyard- USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley (8/7/2009)
This bottle is quite reticent on the nose, just giving up some baked apple and spice notes. On the palate there’s an initial wave of juicy pear fruit that’s squarely medium in weight, not even close to big, especially since the back end of the palate shows some grippy minerality on the sides of the mouth. The finish lingers impressively with a nice acidic tang focusing everything. Both new world Chard drinkers and Burghounds should find something to like in this wine. And it’s got all the material for a bit of development as well. A very fine vintage for this bottling.
I’ve sensed that I have been migrating my palate (not sure it’s willingly, but there are snail marks on the carpet around my computer) away from the CA stuff I adored for so long, and a return to the OR offerings (heh…other than Rosback’s Sineanns,…which COULD be CA PNs).
You are suggesting a dice roll with SI’s, which I view as one of the better houses…
CA PN producers are pretty much on target each “normal” vintage…other than those who source grapes all over the map…(some are soon to include Zucc’s Finger Lakes grapes, I’m sure…)
Should I GENERALLY be taking along my lucky rabbit foot when I head off to buy OR PNs? A positive response will weigh in on my decision-making, of course…so you might as well wear your Chamber of Commerce hat when you respond…
There was rain, but I wouldn’t classify it as “a lot” - certainly nothing like 1995. True, those who waited benefitted from the wait because things dried out nicely, but that was most of the better producers.
I can’t imagine Mark Vlossak would have picked Temperance Hill early and waited on the rest of his vineyards, but I suppose it’s possible. My experience with St. Innocent is limited thanks to the fact that Mark was rude to me (Karma, I suppose) ten years ago, but what experience I do have tells me that Temperance has a tendency to be a really ugly baby - especially in less ripe vintages - that usually grows up to be a Melissa Theuriau.
Thanks for the notes Jamie. Too bad about the Justice. I absolutely loved that wine 20 months ago. Of course mine was a pop and pour … and finish on the next day. I don’t recall tasting the Temperance Hill but I rarely like it young. In fact stopped buying it for years because I didn’t like the profile. Then I dug out some old bottles and found them to be very nice. Especially considering the price of those earlier wines was sub $20.
I’m very interested in your and others’ thoughts on the Freedom Hill chard. I have some of this and my only TN is pretty close to yours. I wondered if it was closed, and if it might blossom in some way with time. Or is it going to be pretty much as-is, and be a very restrained chard – very nice, to be sure, and in a restrained style?
Would love to hear from those with experience with this chard or some further knowledge about it.
I cellar a fair amount (for me, anyway) St Innocent, and other OR pinot, so I don’t think you need to think of buying each bottle as a dice roll. What I will say is that I think both of these reds are far too young. I last tasted the '05 Justice about 18 months ago and I thought it was a nice bottle then: restrained fruit, no major oakiness, great acidic balance. St Innocent has a rap for getting a dill note in the nose with age, but I think this is the first time I’ve experienced it. I’m fairly confident that the wine is in an awkward phase and that it will show better with time. In general I think it is too early to be opening the '05s, and this confirmed that suspicion. On the '07, everyone agrees that it’s a lighter vintage that needs time to show its best. My experience tasting OR pinot on release only goes back to the '02s, so I can’t claim to have enough knowledge to analogize to another vintage that might have been similar in its youth. Some say the '93s were fairly thin early in life, but that they have come around to be nice elegant wines with time in the bottle. That said, I don’t typically enjoy the Temperance Hill profile in its youth, and thus I don’t cellar the bottling, so I can’t speak with much authority about this one. I guess I should say that I did not think the tannins were underripe on the '07. That would be my primary concern, since that would be difficult for the wine to overcome. I think it’s a case of the wine struggling with its oak treatment and having its fruit in a shell.
This bottle of the FH Chard was less forthcoming on the nose than my previous bottle. I do think it is made in a more restrained style, but I also think there’s lots of fruit on the palate. I’ve liked this bottling since I first had it in the '03 vintage, but I have never cellared any for any extended amount of time since they have been bottled with plastic corks until '07. The wine has a consistent signature and other vintages have been more effusive and more forward ('03 and '06). The '07 is the my favorite of all the vintages I’ve tasted, precisely for its restraint and firmer acidity.
Their Anden Chard, which is made in a fleshier style and sees more oak, was bottled with natural cork, and some vintages of that have developed well, according to those who cellared them. I remember Jason posting a really positive note on the '99, for instance. I never cared for them in youth so I never bought them.
Well, like I said, I don’t have personal experience cellaring this wine, so anything I say is going to be king of a guess. But here’s what I’m going to do: I really like the wine right now, which is why I’ve opened a few bottles this summer. But I also want to see what it does with some age. So I’ll probably check in on a bottle in about a year. Depending on that showing, I might wait another year before opening one, or I might open more if it seems giving. But I’ll save the majority for another year, and I’ll continue checking in on a bottle a year, hoping to save at least a couple for their 6th birthdays or beyond. My guess is that in 2-3 years the wine will start to show some secondary development while still preserving some of its initial fruit. Hope that gives you some context for my comments.
Well, this thread made me reflect that, after all, it’s been four months since we tried the first bottle. So time for another! And guess what…
2007 St. Innocent Chardonnay Freedom Hill Vineyard- USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley (8/10/2009)
This is much more giving than it was just four months ago… go figure. Green apple and a hint of brioche on the nose. On the palate this is downright wonderful: apple and pear flavors, along with a sense of wet stone, are beautifully balanced with good acidity, and a very nice weight. Excellent finish. This is mighty tasty. (91 pts.)
Thanks for the follow up. Some nice words about this wine. I am assuming I have this … but I haven’t added it to my cellar. Glad to hear it is real cork. Not sure how the Chard compares but the Freedom Hill Pinots were very tannic and would stick around for quite a few years.
As much as I love the SI Chards young … I am laying more down these days. Keep I very much prefer aged chardonnay to young chardonnay.
To be honest, I find St Innocent PN’s to be a bit hit or miss. Certainly, they seem to be made in a manner to REQUIRE long term aging for everything to integrate. I would actually apply a curve similar to a cote de nuits premier cru red burg. Personally, I don’t drink 1er crus burgs from good years until at least age 7-10. And for some wines, that may still be too young for me.
As for SI wines, I find that they all hold indefinitely. The hits are great, but there are misses too. Some of the wines have been too green and never provided enjoyment, for instance, the 1997 Freedom Hill.
On the other hand, some 1995s and '96s have provided really nice drinking experiences over the past couple of years. They seem to be in their prime now.
Glad to hear that you enjoyed your bottle of the FH Chard. As lovely as it is right now though, I’m going to try to wait for a while before opening another.
Given the vintages I have experience with, it’s still too early to call them as hits or misses. OK, well, I might be willing to call the '03s as misses. But even the '02s are still too young to know whether they will integrate all their components and come out drinking nicely on the other side. My continued purchasing of their wines all goes back to a great bottle of the '00 Brickhouse, which was much lighter on its feet than the more recent vintages and showed wonderfully detailed, layered flavors and aromatics. I have hopes that the '02-'07 wines will someday get to that level of balance, but it seems like it might take a while.