St. Innocent Winery

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Wine Time -Last updated 9/2011

By Vintage:
The Classic or "Great" Oregon vintages (good acidity paired with excellent skin maturity) are 1985, 1994, 1998, 2002, and 2008. They will hit their peak in 10-18 years.

The way other vintages age depends primarily on amount heat during the ripening phase of the growing season. This occurs during the last 4-5 weeks before picking. Prior to this, the grapes are really more like the green part of the plant than a fruit. Because the time of bloom varies by a month or more, this can occur in September into the first half of October.

In vintages that were warm like 1992, 2003, and 2006, the evolution of wines in the bottle will be more rapid. This is because the heat reduces the acid level in the finished wine and acidity is one of the main factors that affects aging (tannin is the other and primarily skin, not oak tannin).

In the cool vintages, with leaner and less ripe skins, waiting 4 years from vintage to begin drinking the wines will allow the fruit components to emerge more fully. They will also evolve more slowly than other vintages. These were 1989, 1993, 1995, 1999, 2004, 2007, and 2010. If the grapes were clean and the level of maturity was good (i.e., they were actually ripe), wines from these vintages will evolve over 12-20 years. As an example, I just showed the 1989 Pinot noir, O'Connor at a diner at Lure in NYC and it was beautiful, with focused and nuanced fruit and very supple on the palate. The 1998 Pinot noir, Freedom Hill was just hitting its stride and was a lovely match with their award-winning cheeseburger and steak. The 2000 Pinot noir, Seven Springs was still a bit closed. Some of my wines will age a long time if stored in a cool, dark place.

Here are some notes on specific vintages that have their own nuances:
By now you should have enjoyed all your 1988 through 1990 and 1992 Pinot noirs. The '91 and '93 vintage wines are at their peak and you should enjoy these with a "special meal"; you are in for a treat.

The 1994's are always going to be tannic, but can be enjoyed 2-4 hours after decanting. I opened the Freedom Hill and enjoyed it thoroughly.

The 1995's are showing very well for a difficult vintage. The Seven Springs is especially lovely.

As much as regretted the job on did on the 1997's, they are actually quite decent now. The exception in the O'Connor Vineyard that was affected by the indigenous yeast, Brettanomycetes and is too funky for my palate.

1998 was a great vintage; the wines are lovely after being closed for several years, just decant them and give them 2-3 hours to develop. They are all still young and the Shea Vineyard will probably last through another decade, so you do not be in a hurry to consume them. 1996 and 1999 are still closed up and are best left alone for 1-3 more years. I over-extracted the 1996's and they need more time for the tannins to resolve. 1999 was the most perfect aging vintage I have ever seen, and they just need more time, probably an additional 2-5 years. I will let you know when to start opening them.

The 2000's are very reflective and their terroirs and I love their nuances - they are still evolving and can stand 2-4 more years. The 2002's are spectacular, but pretty closed up. Give them 2-10 years depending on the site.

The wines after 2002 are not listed as they are all still youthful and can be enjoyed now or left to develop further. 2003's are nice with big, expressive fruit. The 2004's are like 2000 - moderately structured, nuanced and will age well. If you want to buy wines to age, look for any 2008 Pinot noirs that are still in the market. If you want hedonism, buy 2009.

Some of my Pinot noirs go through a closed up stage from 5-8 years after vintage (esp. Seven Springs). For magnums, add 2-3 years to the aging recommendations.

By Vineyard:
Pinot noirs from Temperance Hill develop over ten or more years. Brickhouse Seven Springs, and Freedom will improve for 10-18 years. White Rose has very old vines and will probably age well, but it tastes so good why wait? Justice and Zenith still have fairly young vines, so I would drink in 8-10 years. Shea appears to last forever, easily 15-20 years and evolves more slowly than the other sites.

THE bold 'NOW' wines are my favorite picks. 'Drink' means drink (soon).

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Notes and Condition

Best Years to Drink


Made 1990-1998. The 1991 is quite interesting for a mature white wine.

(should be long gone)

Seven Springs

Made 1988-2000, then the vineyard was re-named Anden. Our last vintage is 2006. Made from all Dijon-Clone fruit beginning in 1998. Acids soften with age and textures increase until 6-8 years of age.

'88-'97 should be gone. All of the Dijon clone wines are lovely

Freedom Hill

Made 1992 through current vintage. The early wines (through 1998) from the 108 clone did not age well. Current style of no new wood began in 2003. More complex textures, fruit increases for 4-6 years of bottle age.

'92-'97 should be gone. All Dijon clone wines are lovely.

Dijon clone

Picked earlier at greater ripeness, beautiful fruit w/great texture

Any and All

Pinot Noir - Add "Years until Peak" to 2009


Notes and Condition

Years until Peak

1988, W.V.

Had sweet Pinot fruit with nice depth. I have no more.

Past its prime

1989, O'Connor

Smoky bouquet with great evolved fruit. Very balanced

Was a "WOW"

1989, Reserve

Complex black fruit and spice, white pepper, getting old

Past, but good!

1990, O'Connor

Lovely sweet fruit is fading, velvety texture

Past its prime

1990, 7 Springs

Complex black fruit, pepper, spice, and earth. Has softened significantly

Now, getting old

1991, O'Connor

Big red fruit , smoke, spice, rich flavors


1991, 7 Springs

Very rich with big fruit, very complex, the best until '93


1992, Alison's

Some cherry fruit, getting old

Past its prime

1992, O'Connor

Nice red fruit, smoke, but showing signs of age

Getting old

1992, 7 Springs

Wild berry fruit with pepper, spice, mushroomy


1993, W.V.

Tastes old with brawny tannins

Past its prime

1993, O'Connor

Smoke and black cherries with great depth


1993, 7 Springs

Still INCREDIBLE! Very concentrated, lovely fruit showing

NOW !!

1994, Temperance

Black cherry, medium tannins, great length

Now, getting old

1994, O'Connor

Huge black cherry and smoke, biggest tannins ever for O'Connor

Now to +2

1994, 7 Springs

Big and tannic with wild berries, pepper and spice, very dense

Now to +3

1994, Freedom Hill

Deep black cherry and rich earthiness, fruit opening w/air

Now to +3

1995, O'Connor

Fading black cherry fruit, medium weight

Now, getting old

1995, 7 Springs

Needs a bit of air, then shows spice, dark fruit with lovely balance


1995, Freedom Hill

Layered black cherry, very smooth, some leather


1995, Brickhouse

Very beautiful with rich fruit, Burgundian layers, and lovely finesse. A truly great '95


1996, Temperance

Sweet fruit, accessible, very nice balance


1996, O'Connor

Big structure with typical flavors-an ager vintage

Now to +1

1996, 7 Springs

Well structured, lots of wild berries, pepper and spice, needs air


1996, Freedom Hill

Layered black cherry, earthiness with big structure


1996, Brickhouse

Spice, white pepper, raspberries, complex, quite rich

Now to +2

1997, Temperance

Some sweet fruit, fading

Past its prime

1997, O'Connor

Still has coarse tannins of vintage, soft fruit and smoke

Past its prime

1997, 7 Springs

Wild berries, pepper and spice, Hold to see if it gets better

Now to +1

1997, Freedom Hill

Edgy tannins, not my best vintage

Past its prime

1997, Brickhouse

Nice berries w/typical spice, white pepper, and mushrooms

Now to +3

1998, Temperance

Loads sweet fruit, spices, layered complexity


1998, O'Connor

The last and best O'Connor ever, a bit closed

Now to +3

1998, Shea

Amazing, complex, sweet dark fruit and flowers, very deep

Now to +10

1998, 7 Springs

Best wine I ever made. Very young and vibrant

Now to +4

1998, Freedom Hill

Rich black cherry, spice, earthiness with sweeter tannin structure

Now to +3

1998, Brickhouse

Silky texture w/ black raspberries, cinnamon, and pepper

Now to +4

1999, Temperance

Nice black cherry, hints of floral

Now to +3

1999, Shea

Sweet red and black raspberries and dark flowers, getting tight

HOLD 2-10

1999, 7 Springs

Second only to the great '98, now very tight, hold

HOLD 2-5

1999, Freedom Hill

Rich black cherry, big structure with lots of tannin

HOLD 2-5

1999, Brickhouse

Very Burgundian, layered raspberry, spice, with many layers

Now to +4

2000, Temperance

Black cherry, purple flowers, first vintage grown by Dai Crisp


2000, Shea

Sweet red and black fruit and dark flowers, getting tight

Now to +3

2000, 7 Springs

Very typical terrior and well balanced, the last from both blocks

Now to +4

2000, Freedom Hill

Rich black cherry, big structure with more nuances

Now to +3

2000, Brickhouse

Lovely barnyard, cloves with many layers

Now to +4

2001, Temperance

Nice black cherry, a bit rustic


2001, Shea

Wild and gamey aromas, somewhat coarse tannins. Some Brettanomycetes character. Was filtered so this will not evolve.

Now to +4

2001, 7 Springs

Very typical terrior, less forward fruit

Hold 1-4

2001, Anden

Wild berries, spice with rustic tannins that are softening. Not my best effort.

Hold 1-4

2001, Freedom Hill

Black cherry, earth, one of the best wines from the vintage

Now to +6

2001, Brickhouse

Lovely barnyard, cloves with many layers, the best Brickhouse ever!!

Now to +4

2002, Temperance

Black cherry, purple flowers, first vintage grown by Dai Crisp

Now to +2

2002, Shea

Rich, sweet red and black fruit and dark flowers, great depth

Hold 2-10

2002, 7 Springs

One the best wines I have ever made.

Hold 2-8

2002, Freedom Hill

Rich black cherry, big structure with more nuances. Spectacular!!

Hold 2-6

2002, Anden

More earthy, wild fruit, pie spice, and white pepper. One of the best wines. Late release. Not reviewed by WA.

Hold 5-10

Méthode Champenoise


Notes and Condition


Drinkable at release, better vintages improve with bottle age for 5 years
Best Vintages: '89, '90, '98 through '00. The 1998 Reserve Demi-Sec is quite nice (8 years on the yeast).

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