WTN: 2001 St. Innocent Seven Springs

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WTN: 2001 St. Innocent Seven Springs

Postby Jenise » Mon Jan 23, 2012 9:26 pm

After the loser '00 a few weeks ago, we decided to enjoy our last '01 Seven Springs which had been, if not a spectacular vintage, at least a reliable one. Not sure when we last drank one, we'd owned a case; but it probably wasn't more than a year ago. Waited too long. Muddy tones dominate the nose and palate, no fruit, nothing pinot-esque: necrotic and undrinkable. Bought direct from the winery and cellared well, and the cork shows no sign of compromise. Major disappointment!
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Re: WTN: 2001 St. Innocent Seven Springs

Postby David M. Bueker » Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:01 pm

You had best try a 2002...soon
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Re: WTN: 2001 St. Innocent Seven Springs

Postby Jenise » Tue Jan 24, 2012 2:25 pm

:) I get your point, but I didn't buy as many 02's and we drank them at what I thought might be peak. They're gone now.
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Re: WTN: 2001 St. Innocent Seven Springs

Postby James Dietz » Wed Jan 25, 2012 10:39 pm

What do you think is the problem? My impression has always been that SI wines had long lives. Not so?
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Re: WTN: 2001 St. Innocent Seven Springs

Postby Jenise » Thu Jan 26, 2012 3:33 am

James Dietz wrote:What do you think is the problem? My impression has always been that SI wines had long lives. Not so?


Most have had, but not all. '01 was, I think, the first year of the Seven Springs/Anden split, wherein the older vines went one way and the new another. IIIRC, the SS lost it's older vine fruit; Mark may have miscalculated. This 01 reminds me of what happened with the '96 vintage, the wines just lost all fruit and turned into mud. Any other flavor was closer to soy sauce than pinot noir.
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Re: WTN: 2001 St. Innocent Seven Springs

Postby David M. Bueker » Thu Jan 26, 2012 3:39 am

On what basis of evidence did we ever decide that St. Innocent (or really any Oregon Pinot save a select few) made long aging wines? I know that it has been received wisdom for quite a while, but what data led to it?

Faced with a large number of St. I bottles from 2003-2008 (very few being the special selection bottles), I would love to know if there is any real reason to hold them.
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Re: WTN: 2001 St. Innocent Seven Springs

Postby James Dietz » Thu Jan 26, 2012 11:42 am

David M. Bueker wrote:On what basis of evidence did we ever decide that St. Innocent (or really any Oregon Pinot save a select few) made long aging wines? I know that it has been received wisdom for quite a while, but what data led to it?

Faced with a large number of St. I bottles from 2003-2008 (very few being the special selection bottles), I would love to know if there is any real reason to hold them.


I agree it may be urban legend. But I had heard about Eyrie being one, and an amigo (Jason Hagen) I thought thought that SI was another. Maybe he or an OR expert will chime in.
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Re: WTN: 2001 St. Innocent Seven Springs

Postby Jenise » Thu Jan 26, 2012 3:08 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:On what basis of evidence did we ever decide that St. Innocent (or really any Oregon Pinot save a select few) made long aging wines? I know that it has been received wisdom for quite a while, but what data led to it?


My guess: back when only a few Oregon pinots held up five years, St. Innocent's single vineyards (well, maybe not Temperance Hill but Freedom Hill, SS and O'Connor, yes) reliably went to sleep at around 3-4 and woke up around age 8. Some years produced 10-12 year wines, but those were usually the wines least valued in their infancy, like 1997. The rest have tended to peak at 8-9 then do this wierd perp-walk into nothingness, turning into, as I've always called it, "mud". I've actually run into people who like that or at least who won't call a wine that's there dead, but I don't get it. I've never had any St. Innocent that aged like the early Domaine Serene Evanstadts ('92 was astonishing in about 2004) or some California pinots, like Joseph Swan.
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Re: WTN: 2001 St. Innocent Seven Springs

Postby David M. Bueker » Fri Jan 27, 2012 4:18 am

I've heard good things about the ageability of the Eyrie wines.

I think there will be some serious "looking into" on 2003 and 2004 (at least) St. Innocent wines at my house in the near future.
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Re: WTN: 2001 St. Innocent Seven Springs

Postby Jenise » Fri Jan 27, 2012 11:10 am

David, good plan. I'd especially look hard at the 03's--that was a hellishly hot vintage and most of the wines from that year were early drinkers. I think the '04's are drinking quite well--they never went to sleep. Neither have the 05's. I don't plan on holding onto them the way I used to.
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Re: WTN: 2001 St. Innocent Seven Springs

Postby Jason Hagen » Tue Feb 05, 2013 10:44 pm

These 01s just seem a little f'ed up. Here is my note from the other side of the vineyard
  • 2001 St. Innocent Pinot Noir Anden - USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley (1/16/2013)
    8 years ago I tried this and commented that it wasn't worth drinking at that time. Well I can say the same thing right now. The nose is off putting. Stinky, mushroomy and woody. With nothing subtle about it. Weird meaty flavors. I did not like this but to be fair, my wife did. For my tastes, I don't see this improving. I do have another bottle that I'll probably just leave buried and open as an experiment some time in the distant future.


James Dietz wrote:
David M. Bueker wrote:On what basis of evidence did we ever decide that St. Innocent (or really any Oregon Pinot save a select few) made long aging wines? I know that it has been received wisdom for quite a while, but what data led to it?

Faced with a large number of St. I bottles from 2003-2008 (very few being the special selection bottles), I would love to know if there is any real reason to hold them.


I agree it may be urban legend. But I had heard about Eyrie being one, and an amigo (Jason Hagen) I thought thought that SI was another. Maybe he or an OR expert will chime in.


@ David re: 03-08s. The 03s are probably dead. Horrific vintage. 2006 is right behind it with regards to being horrible. I think you tried an 06 recently. The 04s are very good and probably in a drinking window. Maybe the 05s too but I think they will last/improve more with time. 08s are incredible but will take a long time to come around.

As far as the long aging of SI in general, it may be too soon to tell. I had some 94s a few years ago and they were great (great vintage) but not sure if that is considered aged. I think the 05s and 08 will make the transition and improve with age. But SIs can be edgy wines and not for everyone. And I don't think the split of the 7 Springs vineyard was good for the wines.

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Re: WTN: 2001 St. Innocent Seven Springs

Postby Doug Surplus » Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:57 am

I never held on to any SI Seven Springs very long, but I did have an 06 Shea a few months ago that was still quite alive. The the 09 Shea I opened last night had too much alcoholic heat and not much promise of a long life.

The '10 Shea, however (opened over the weekend) is quite lively, well balanced, if still young. There's enough promise there for me to buy 6-12 bottles to hold over the next several years to see what happens. Mark predicts 10-15 years on the label, 15-20 in the notes that came with the club shipment. Based on experiences reported here (in this thread and others) I'm guessing 15 years is optimistic, with 10 being more realistic.
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Re: WTN: 2001 St. Innocent Seven Springs

Postby Joy Lindholm » Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:50 pm

I can't speak to a lot of older Oregon Pinots, but while in Willamette Valley last November, we had a 1994 Van Duzer Pinot Noir at the Joel Palmer House that was lovely and still lively. It reminded me of drinking a Burgundy with 10 or so years on it, but with a bit more fruit still.
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Re: WTN: 2001 St. Innocent Seven Springs

Postby David M. Bueker » Wed Feb 06, 2013 2:30 pm

Reading this thread, especially Jason's contribution, I just get more and more depressed about even being on the St. I list as long as I was. I joined because I had tried a few mid-late 90s wines that I really liked, and there was a bit of a buzz. Pretty much everything I still have is 2003-2008, and lately every time I open a bottle (except for the very few Special Selection bottles I have had) I rue the purchases more and more. Occasionally there is a good wine, but no stars, and I could do better with so many other producers. Sigh.
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Re: WTN: 2001 St. Innocent Seven Springs

Postby Hoke » Wed Feb 06, 2013 2:32 pm

Joy Lindholm wrote:I can't speak to a lot of older Oregon Pinots, but while in Willamette Valley last November, we had a 1994 Van Duzer Pinot Noir at the Joel Palmer House that was lovely and still lively. It reminded me of drinking a Burgundy with 10 or so years on it, but with a bit more fruit still.


Joy, some of the older Van Duzer bottlings reminded me very much of Pommard: not particularly elegant when young, kind of stubborn and dumb initially, but sturdy as hell; with age, though, they actually did 'juice up' a bit, lose the whang leather toughness and gain a lovely brown-edged softness and soft cherry fruit.

Again, much like a Pommard to me.
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Re: WTN: 2001 St. Innocent Seven Springs

Postby Hoke » Wed Feb 06, 2013 2:59 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:Reading this thread, especially Jason's contribution, I just get more and more depressed about even being on the St. I list as long as I was. I joined because I had tried a few mid-late 90s wines that I really liked, and there was a bit of a buzz. Pretty much everything I still have is 2003-2008, and lately every time I open a bottle (except for the very few Special Selection bottles I have had) I rue the purchases more and more. Occasionally there is a good wine, but no stars, and I could do better with so many other producers. Sigh.


Interesting, David. I live here in the Valley now and have the great fortune of tasting through the SI lineup (usually in the presence of the winemaker, a man I respect immensely) as they are released. In addition, I frequently am able to select the Shea or the blend (often in half bottles, from many restaurant lists around town. While I'm not in a position to taste the older bottlings on a regular basis, and thus am at somewhat of disadvantage, I haven't lost any of my desire of and appreciation for what SI is doing these days.

Don't know if SI will finally emerge as a mid-term drinker at best. Possible. But in the short to mid-term, they are glorious, and some of the best reflections of vineyard-specific terroir I have found in the Americas.
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Re: WTN: 2001 St. Innocent Seven Springs

Postby Jason Hagen » Wed Feb 06, 2013 3:37 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:Reading this thread, especially Jason's contribution, I just get more and more depressed about even being on the St. I list as long as I was. I joined because I had tried a few mid-late 90s wines that I really liked, and there was a bit of a buzz. Pretty much everything I still have is 2003-2008, and lately every time I open a bottle (except for the very few Special Selection bottles I have had) I rue the purchases more and more. Occasionally there is a good wine, but no stars, and I could do better with so many other producers. Sigh.



The 98s and 99s have progressed well. Some still needing some time. Hopefully in time you'll be pleasantly surprised with the 04s, 05s, 07s and 08s. Keep in mind that as Hoke mentions, each bottling is very distinct by vineyard. Unfortunately you have two vintages that I doubt would suit your palate. Like I said, I would think the 03s are dead and the 06s probably won't show improvement IMO. I am trying to finish of the few 06s I have left (mostly skipped the vintage once I tasted the beautiful 07s in barrel) . Luckily you got out before the 09s which is another vintage that might not suit you. I skipped it for the most part. But the 10s and 11s are spectacular from the producers I buy from, including St. I.

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Re: WTN: 2001 St. Innocent Seven Springs

Postby Joy Lindholm » Wed Feb 06, 2013 6:41 pm

Hoke wrote:
Joy Lindholm wrote:I can't speak to a lot of older Oregon Pinots, but while in Willamette Valley last November, we had a 1994 Van Duzer Pinot Noir at the Joel Palmer House that was lovely and still lively. It reminded me of drinking a Burgundy with 10 or so years on it, but with a bit more fruit still.


Joy, some of the older Van Duzer bottlings reminded me very much of Pommard: not particularly elegant when young, kind of stubborn and dumb initially, but sturdy as hell; with age, though, they actually did 'juice up' a bit, lose the whang leather toughness and gain a lovely brown-edged softness and soft cherry fruit.

Again, much like a Pommard to me.


That was the first Van Duzer I had ever tasted, and we were quite impressed. Especially for the price - if I remember correctly it was priced in the mid $70. On a restaurant list and with that age, we thought it was a steal!
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Re: WTN: 2001 St. Innocent Seven Springs

Postby Joy Lindholm » Wed Feb 06, 2013 6:46 pm

Hoke wrote:Interesting, David. I live here in the Valley now and have the great fortune of tasting through the SI lineup (usually in the presence of the winemaker, a man I respect immensely) as they are released. In addition, I frequently am able to select the Shea or the blend (often in half bottles, from many restaurant lists around town. While I'm not in a position to taste the older bottlings on a regular basis, and thus am at somewhat of disadvantage, I haven't lost any of my desire of and appreciation for what SI is doing these days.


Speaking of the Shea Vineyard wines - am I the only one who thinks that Shea Vineyard Pinot Noirs are somewhat over-rated? I get the exclusivity, but as far as quality goes, when tasted against other single vineyard Pinots from the Willamette by the same winemakers, I think the Shea is a bit lacking in luster - especially for the price. I found this true with St. Innocent and Bergstrom's versions most profoundly.
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Re: WTN: 2001 St. Innocent Seven Springs

Postby Jason Hagen » Wed Feb 06, 2013 7:06 pm

Joy Lindholm wrote:
Hoke wrote:Interesting, David. I live here in the Valley now and have the great fortune of tasting through the SI lineup (usually in the presence of the winemaker, a man I respect immensely) as they are released. In addition, I frequently am able to select the Shea or the blend (often in half bottles, from many restaurant lists around town. While I'm not in a position to taste the older bottlings on a regular basis, and thus am at somewhat of disadvantage, I haven't lost any of my desire of and appreciation for what SI is doing these days.


Speaking of the Shea Vineyard wines - am I the only one who thinks that Shea Vineyard Pinot Noirs are somewhat over-rated? I get the exclusivity, but as far as quality goes, when tasted against other single vineyard Pinots from the Willamette by the same winemakers, I think the Shea is a bit lacking in luster - especially for the price. I found this true with St. Innocent and Bergstrom's versions most profoundly.



One thing to keep in mind is that Shea is a very large vineyard (others might be able to elaborate) with vines at different ages. I don't really get any Shea other than from St. Innocent so I can't speak to it being over-rated. I personally like the St I Shea a lot. Of course leaving out 03 and 06.

But I do think there a lot more exciting vineyards now than there was 10 years ago. The eliteness of some of these old Vineyard might have faded a bit.

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Re: WTN: 2001 St. Innocent Seven Springs

Postby David M. Bueker » Wed Feb 06, 2013 7:53 pm

I bet vine age in various plots affects things in such a large site.
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Re: WTN: 2001 St. Innocent Seven Springs

Postby Hoke » Wed Feb 06, 2013 9:53 pm

Shea over-rated? Hmmm.

In the sense of against all other Valley offerings from single sites, maybe, I guess. But I don't look at it that way. And neither does the winemaker.

The SI Shea is always the first one released, always the one that shows its suppleness sooner, and I think always the one that has a fairly simple straightforward black cherry appeal, with comparatively little complexity and depth when compared with the other SVs.

Plus (and I have no way of knowing if this is true or not, because I haven't asked) I get the idea that the Shea gets bottled in half-bottles, so the combo of half-bottles and forward fruit (and price) makes it the most prominent on restaurant lists.

My favorite of the SI is the Momtazi, which is simply amazing; intricate, multi-faceted, spicy as hell, and slow to come around. Can be stubborn and unyielding in its youth, but at maturity it is magnificent, like a Corton can be (but more like Corton with a surreptitious dollop of Hermitage in it, heh heh).

So, Shea over-rated? I wouldn't say that. I'd say that it sits quite firmly at the simpler, more wholesome and fruit-forward edge of the curve of Valley Pinots.

How's that for hedging? :D
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Re: WTN: 2001 St. Innocent Seven Springs

Postby Joy Lindholm » Wed Feb 06, 2013 10:26 pm

Hoke wrote:So, Shea over-rated? I wouldn't say that. I'd say that it sits quite firmly at the simpler, more wholesome and fruit-forward edge of the curve of Valley Pinots.


Perhaps that is why I'm not such a fan - I prefer Pinots from the sites which show more earthy, herbal complexity like Temperance Hill or Momtazi over simple, fruity ones...

Hoke wrote:My favorite of the SI is the Momtazi, which is simply amazing; intricate, multi-faceted, spicy as hell, and slow to come around. Can be stubborn and unyielding in its youth, but at maturity it is magnificent, like a Corton can be (but more like Corton with a surreptitious dollop of Hermitage in it, heh heh).


Agreed! Which is why that is the SI we chose for our wine list (in a 375ml). The funny thing is, I like SI's Momtazi way more than I like anything Maysara puts out, although I accredit that to a very young winemaker (she just turned 30). I'm guessing their wines will improve and show the beauty of the Momtazi vineyard as she gets a few more vintages under her belt.
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Re: WTN: 2001 St. Innocent Seven Springs

Postby Hoke » Wed Feb 06, 2013 10:49 pm

Agreed! Which is why that is the SI we chose for our wine list (in a 375ml). The funny thing is, I like SI's Momtazi way more than I like anything Maysara puts out, although I accredit that to a very young winemaker (she just turned 30). I'm guessing their wines will improve and show the beauty of the Momtazi vineyard as she gets a few more vintages under her belt.


And I, in turn, agree with that. Maysara makes some good wines but I always get the feel that she's leaning just a tiny bit too much to the gushy fruit and not paying quite enough attention to that lovely spicy but almost vegetal/dried herb element that SI develops so well.

But those two examples point to the dual elelemts of terroir and style: both Maysara and SI show the inherent nature of what Momtazi produces, but they do it in two different directions. (You and I just respond more eagerly to the SI direction. :D )
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