Saturday, September 25, 2010

Cellar report: 2002 St. Innocent "Shea Vineyard" Pinot Noir

Given my usual thirst, a half bottle of pinot noir shared would barely put a dent in my pleasure center. But when it's a half bottle from Oregon winemaker Mark Vlossak and it's from arguably the finest pinot noir vineyard in Oregon, then for once less is more. I've had these half bottles down in the basement for years, and every time I pull one out I am constantly amazed at how youthful they are. St. Innocent has a reputation for producing some of Oregon's most age-worthy pinots, a rep that I can wholeheartedly vouch for. With way too many Oregon producers making pinots that speak more to the availability of discretionary income on the winery owners part (i.e.- forests of new oak), Mark has always, to borrow some '70s vernacular, just kept on keeping on. Pure, perfectly ripe fruit, a very judicious layer of oak, acids and tannins that are always in balance. This St. Innocent '02 "Shea Vineyard" was right out of the bottle practically screaming "I'm from OREGON, dammit!" It has the classic strawberry, plum, and spice aromas and flavors. With the passing of eight years, this bottle is really starting to show some secondary development. The fruit is all there, but hits of earthiness and darker cherry notes are coming through, making something that started out in its youth so good, so much better. The mouthfeel is full and rich, the finish is long and lush, the smile on my face is wide and true. Even in the 375ml format, I suspect that this beauty will continue to provide pleasure for the next 5-8 years, maybe longer. I'm all about the wine LTR, so I'll let you know how we get along, okay?

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