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St. Innocent Freedom Hill Pinot Noir 2008

Pinot Noir from Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon
  • W&S93
  • RP91
  • WS90
13.5% ABV
  • WE92
  • JS91
  • W&S94
  • RP92
  • RP94
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13.5% ABV

Winemaker Notes

Freedom Hill Vineyard produces Pinot noirs with structure, depth, and richness as well as a strong sense of minerality. The site is relatively warm from daytime heat that rises up the large, flat valley below. This develops rich skin tannins. Because of its proximity to Oregon Coast range -it is on the edge of the Coast Range of mountains- the vineyard is quite cool at night. This maintains good acidity in the wine. This combination of tannin and acidity produces Pinot noir with great structure. Capturing that intensity and revealing the nuances of the terroir (clay-like earthiness, dried flowers, dark spices) without excess tannins is the key to making great Freedom Hill.

The 2008 has red and black cherry aromas with dark floral, ground spices, pepper and a strong undercurrent of minerality. Dark red fruits on the palate and its signature clay-like earthiness, it finishes with a backbone of ripe tannins and balanced acidity. Perfect for that Porterhouse or T-bone as well as roasts and big pasta dishes. It is best if opened and decanted at least an hour before drinking. Given the ideal ripening conditions in 2008 and the inherent structure of this site, it will benefit from aging up to a decade.

Critical Acclaim

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W&S 93
Wine & Spirits
With hints of mint and thyme adorning forward plum and black cherry scents, this stylish wine, from one of the Valley's oldest vineyards, has a savory core of flavor and a texture that suggests a low center of gravity. It has a fine balance of fruit and savory elements, the sort of balance that would pair with herb-roasted chicken.
RP 91
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2008 Pinot Noir Freedom Hill Vineyard is the first Vlossak has made since 2003 due to the replanting caused by phylloxera. It gives up aromas of pain grille, spice box, incense, black cherry, and black raspberry. Structured and a bit straightforward compared to its peers, even so it is a strong effort that will benefit from several years of additional bottle age.
91+ points.
WS 90
Wine Spectator
This tight red shows edgy tannins around a pulsing core of cassis and blackberry fruit, persisting into the long, savory finish. Best from 2012 through 2018
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St. Innocent

St. Innocent Winery

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St. Innocent Winery, , Oregon
St. Innocent
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.

Napa Valley

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One of the world's most highly regarded regions for wine production and tourism, the Napa Valley is the AVA that brought worldwide recognition to California winemaking. The area was settled by a few choice wine families in the 1960's who bet that the wines of the area would grow and flourish. They were right. The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980's, when vineyard lands were scooped up and vines were planted throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, from large conglomerates to small boutiques to cult classics. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux blends. Whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Within the Napa Valley lie many smaller sub-AVAs that lend even more character specifics to the wines. Furthest south is Carneros, followed by Yountville, Oakville & Rutherford. Above those two are St.-Helena and the valley's newest AVA, Calistoga. These areas are situated on the valley floor and are known for creating rich, smooth Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. There are a few mountain regions as well, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs. Those include Howell Mountain, Stags Leap District, and Mt. Veeder. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from more time in the bottle to evolve and soften.

Bordeaux Blends

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One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine, Bordeaux-inspired blends have spread from their homeland in France to nearly every corner of the New World, especially in California, Washington, and Australia. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and/or Petit Verdot, these are sometimes referred to in the US as “Meritage” blends. In Bordeaux itself, Cabernet Sauvignon dominates in wines from the Left Bank of the Gironde river, while the Right Bank focuses on Merlot. Often, blends from outside the region are classified as being inspired by one or the other.

In the Glass

Cabernet-based, Left-Bank-styled wines are typically more tannic and structured, while Merlot-based wines modeled after the Right Bank are softer and suppler. Cabernet Franc can add herbal notes, while Malbec and Petit Verdot contribute color and structure. Wines from Bordeaux can be bold and fruit-forward or restrained and earthy, while New World facsimiles tend to emulate the former style. In general, Bordeaux red blends can have aromas and flavors of black currant, cedar, plum, graphite, and violet, with more red fruit flavors when Merlot makes up a high proportion of the blend.

Perfect Pairings

Since Bordeaux red blends are often quite structured and tannic, they pair best with hearty, flavorful, and fatty meat dishes. Any type of steak makes for a classic pairing. Equally welcome with these wines would be beef brisket, pot roast, braised lamb, or smoked duck.

Sommelier Secret

While the region of Bordeaux is limited to a select few approved grape varieties, the New World is free to experiment. Bordeaux blends in California may include Syrah, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, or virtually any other grape deemed worthy by the winemaker. In Australia, Shiraz is a common component.

EPC17152_2008 Item# 109410

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