Sunday, August 17, 2008

St. Innocent Justice Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006

I have been drinking a fair number of Oregon pinots in the past several months and found that my initial enthusiasm for them has become somewhat tempered lately. The problem, I think, is that pinot is so extremely hard to make because its delicacy can easily be overwhelmed or overproduced. Oregon, when successful, can blend the fruitiness allowed by New World heat and the savory earthiness and funk of cool climate old world pinots. However, more often than not these days Oregon pinots are getting more and more over the top with fruity and often cola-like flavours and aromas. Also, the subtle savory flavours frequently taste identical: a basic farm-fresh funkiness without the mushroomy, manure and soil-like layers found in the best pinots from Burgundy. Couple with that ever increasing prices and Oregon is, in my opinion, far less exciting than its neighbour Washington where wine is still being made with cool-climate verve.

This perception now informs all of my Oregon pinot tastings. The St. Innocent offered up classic Oregonian burnt hay aromas, chocolate, cherry, licorice and a little brown sugar on the nose. So, upon sniffing, this was already offering more than most. While the fruit was quite heavy, the wine was also bright and acidic, which balanced out the intensity of the cherry. Big and bold for a pinot, but with a very silky mouthfeel, the wine also offers a moderately tannic back-end. Ultimately, the alcohol needs better integration, but the rest of the wine is pretty nicely balanced, especially for a fruit-forward pinot. The finish was also quite a lot longer than most of the Oregon pinots I've had. A very solid effort, and should improve a lot with some age.
P.S. I forgot to take a picture of this and the only image I could find has a lame watermark on it. So please ignore that!

$50 USD in Seattle


Edward said...


Your note gives a lovely sense of the wine, and the commentary is very perceptive. Was 2006 considered a 'typical' vintage or was it warmer than average?

Shea said...

Thanks Edward,

2006 was warm and dry for the summer, hot for september, and cool and rainy from then until harvest (which was site dependent). Many are considertion 2006 to be a top quality vintage for this century.