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Eight years ago, we began replanting the 108 clone of Chardonnay originally planted in Oregon with French 'Dijon' clones. Experimental wines had been made in Oregon from these clones in the 1980's. I believed they would produce wines with fully ripened fruit and also have the rich textures found in white Burgundies. Since 1999. all of St. Innocent's Chardonnay vines are producing fruit exclusively from the Dijon clones. I am now convinced that the results were worth the huge effort it required.
The Freedom Hill Dijon clone Chardonnays are Mersault-like: darker fruit with a stoney minerality and rich textures in the mouth. The Seven Springs Dijon clone Chardonnays have a Puligny-like charactor: sweet fruit and spice with great length. They are both a huge qualitative improvement over the old clones.
The mineral aromas remind me of granite and marble. Intermixed are aromas of pear, citrus, and melon. It fills your mouth with amazing viscosity-an almost oily texture. The fruit components are deeper, almost visceral. This is one of my most food friendly wines. I will frequently open it along with several of my Pinot noirs at dinner with visiting customers and it is always the first bottle empty. I am very aware that Chardonnay is not the wine that many serious wine people buy for enjoyment. However, if you try it, you may be amazed. This is simply a great food wine.
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