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St. Innocent Freedom Hill Chardonnay 2009

Chardonnay from Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon
  • WS90
13.5% ABV
  • WE92
  • WS92
  • WE92
  • RP88
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13.5% ABV

Winemaker Notes

The Freedom Hill Dijon clone Chardonnays are Meursault-like: darker fruit with a stony minerality and rich textures in the mouth. I struggled with the specific style for Freedom Hill Chardonnay until my visit to Burgundy and Chablis in 2003. There I tasted a grand cru Chablis fermented entirely in used barrels. The ripe fruit and intense minerality balanced perfectly with the lees component and textural enhancement derived from barrel fermentation.

The 2009 Freedom Hill Chardonnay has a nose of ripe pear and peach with hints of spice and citrus blossom. It enters your mouth with ripe peach, pear and apricot flavors with an undercurrent of peach and apricot pit minerality. These flavors extend across the palate and the minerality broadens into the finish. Texturally complex with a nice backbone of acidity and an extended finish. The combination of layered fruit, length, and complex undercurrent of minerality makes it a good match for richer white meat dishes. Match with rich fishes, wild birds, risottos and cheeses. Drinkable at release, it will develop over 6 years.

Critical Acclaim

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WS 90
Wine Spectator
Light and bright, balancing its pear and nutmeg flavors against lively acidity, lingering enticingly on the finish. Drink now through 2014. 861 cases made.
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St. Innocent

St. Innocent Winery

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St. Innocent Winery, Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon
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St. Innocent Winery was founded in May 1988 by Mark Vlossak, the current winemaker and president, and eight investors. Ten tons of grapes were crushed the first fall, producing 396 cases of still and 176 cases of sparkling wine. Production increased to our full capacity of 6800 cases in 2004. The winery is located in Salem, Oregon, at the southeast corner of the Eola Hills, in the mid-Willamette valley.

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.

Eola-Amity Hills

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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 VanDuzer corridor and assists the maintenance of higher acidities 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.

Chardonnay

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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 practically every country in the wine producing world grows it, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. As far as cellar potential, white Burgundy rivals the world’s other age-worthy whites like Riesling or botrytized Semillon. California is Chardonnay’s second most important home, where both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines enjoy great popularity. Oregon, Australia and South America are also significant producers of Chardonnay.

In the Glass

When planted on cool sites, Chardonnay flavors tend towards grapefruit, lemon zest, green apple, celery leaf and wet flint, while warmer locations coax out richer, more tropical flavors of melon, peach and pineapple. Oak can add notes of vanilla, coconut and spice, while malolactic fermentation imparts a soft and creamy texture.

Perfect Pairings

Chardonnay is as versatile at the table as it is in the vineyard. The crisp, clean, Chablis-like styles go well with flaky white fish with herbs, scallops, turkey breast and soft cheeses. Richer Chardonnays marry well with lobster, crab, salmon, roasted chicken and creamy sauces.

Sommelier Secret

Since the 1990s, big, oaky, buttery Chardonnays from California have enjoyed explosive popularity. More recently, the pendulum has begun to swing in the opposite direction, towards a clean, crisp style that rarely utilizes new oak. In Burgundy, the subregion of Chablis, while typically employing the use of older oak barrels, produces a similar bright and acid-driven style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy its lighter style.

FBR103048_2009 Item# 109409