Our Wines

2016 Chardonnay Freedom Hill Vineyard


The Freedom Hill Dijon clone Chardonnays are Meursault-like: darker fruit with a stony minerality and rich textures in the mouth. Mark struggled with the specific style for Freedom Hill Chardonnay until his visit to Burgundy and Chablis in 2003. There he tasted a grand cru Chablis fermented entirely in used barrels. Our chardonnay is now fermented in the same manner. Mark finally feels that he has captured the terroir of Freedom Hill . After settling, pure juice (no SO2) was barrel fermented with indigenous yeasts. The wine finished malolactic fermentation (wild) and was aged sur lees for eleven months entirely in used French oak barrels. It is unfined and lightly filtered before bottling.

Vineyard Details

Freedom Hill Vineyard is located in the foothills of the coast range 10 miles southwest of Salem, Oregon. The Chardonnay blocks have a southeast exposure at an elevation of 510' and benefit from heat rising off the valley floor. Hills to the east protect the vines from strong coastal winds. The vines were planted in 1999 and 2006 with Dijon clones 76 and 548 on well drained silty clay loam. Eight years ago, we began replanting the 108 clone of Chardonnay originally planted in Oregon with French 'Dijon' clones. Experimental wines had been made in Oregon from these clones in the 1980's. I believed they would produce wines with fully ripened fruit and also have the rich textures found in white Burgundies. Since 1999, all of St. Innocent's Chardonnay vines are producing fruit exclusively from the Dijon clones. I am now convinced that the results were worth the huge effort it required.

Vintage Description

2016 was the third in a string of warm summers and early harvests. It produced the smallest crop of the three. The harvest began with a bit of heat and dehydration in the fruit. This immediately resolved with cooler temperatures and the rest of the harvest produced well balanced fruit with lovely flavors and ripe tannins. We finished picking at the end of September, producing a total of 10,200 cases. In general 2016 produced lush, early-drinking wines with lovely aromatics and accessible fruit, spice and floral notes. They can be aged and are quite approachable in their youth.

Tasting Notes

Our 2016 Chardonnay Freedom Hill Vineyard has seductive aromas of yellow peach, mango and peach preserves with hints of cinnamon stick and white pepper. Embracing your entire pallet with bright yellow fruit, fresh acidity, and Buttercup. This wine has a racy richness clearly differentiating it from "normal" Chardonnays. Impeccably balanced with the warmer fruit and floral notes persisting long into the finish. It would be a great match for fish tacos with mango salsa, grilled tuna pasta or pizza margherita. As lovely as it is now, it can be enjoyed over the next 8 years.