St. Innocent Freedom Hill Chardonnay 2000
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.
St. Innocent produces small lot, handmade wines: seven single vineyard Pinot noirs and a blended Pinot noir called the Villages Cuvée, two Chardonnay from Dijon clone plantings, two Pinot gris, and a Pinot blanc.
The philosophy behind the winemaking at St Innocent is that the function of wine is to complement and extend the pleasure of a meal. The characteristics of a wine should enhance different food and flavor combinations - this interaction amplifies the pleasure of a meal. To this end, St. Innocent wines tend toward higher acid levels, and more diverse and balanced flavors.
Running north to south, adjacent to the Willamette River, the Eola-Amity Hills AVA has shallow and well-drained soils created from ancient lava flows (called Jory), marine sediments, rocks and alluvial deposits. These soils force vine roots to dig deep, producing small grapes with great concentration.
Like in the McMinnville sub-AVA, cold Pacific air streams in via the Van Duzer Corridor and assists the maintenance of higher acidity in its grapes. This great concentration, combined with marked acidity, give the Eola-Amity Hills wines—namely Pinot noir—their distinct character. While the region covers 40,000 acres, no more than 1,400 acres are covered in vine.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it is grown and how it is made. While it tends to flourish in most environments, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. California produces both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines. Somm Secret—The Burgundian subregion of Chablis, while typically using older oak barrels, produces a bright style similar to the unoaked style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy Chablis.