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St. Innocent Winery

December 12, 2010

A couple of years ago, when Amelia was in her first year of graduate school at the University of Washington School of Information Sciences in Seattle, we rented a home on Bainbridge Island for a week at Christmas. It was our first real introduction to the Pacific Northwest and we spent a memorable week exploring the coastal communities and trtying out the best that Seattle had to offer. Kate flew in from Alaska, Amelia’s boyfriend, Jon, and his parents, along with our great friends, the Scotts, all joined us on the island for Christmas dinner and it almost felt like home.

Somewhere along the line, one of us bought a Pinot Noir from St. Innocent Winery, in Oregon. The wine turned out to be the beverage hit of the trip and before we left, we stopped into, Delaurenti’s,  a small wine merchant near Pike Place Market downtown and picked up a bottle of Justice 2006 – the same bottling and vintage we’d been lucky enough to try, and I tucked it into a travel bag to bring home. Only, like an idiot I made an attempt to carry the bag on the plane, and needless to say it was confiscated. Unfortunately, I couldn’t even get the TSA folks  to share it; they were prohibited from doing so – and it ended up in the garbage.

Anyway, several weeks ago, we took delivery of our 2008 allocation – when we returned home from Seattle, I promptly went on-line and pre-ordered a mixed case of the 2008s. Boy am I glad we did.

We opened a bottle of the Justice 2008 last weekend and while our choice of a meal to have it with was found wanting (turkey leftovers, good on their own but not up to a great pinot noir), the wine was a mouthful. Now this wine is very different from most american Pinot. For one thing it’s basically indistinguishable from a good burgundy. I’m not saying it’s a Romanee Conti, but the wine is well structured with  loads of raspberries mixed with plum and other berry flavors. The level of concentration is up there with many of the solid Burgundies from some of my favorite winemakers such as Jean Marc Pavelot, Paul Guaradet and Rene Engel – the wonderful folks who modernized Burgundy and made affordable Pinot Noir wines from small shares of vineyards in places like Volney, Savigny les Baunes, Vosne Romanee and Gevrey-Chambertin in the 1990s (don’t try to acquire their better offerings in a good vintage today without $100+ to spend).

And best of all, most of St. Innocent’s wine is affordable – especially if you live close by and can get it straight from the winery without having to pay for shipping. The wine has made it to the east coast as well. My favorite wine merchant in New England, Kenny Kirk at Action Wine and Spirits, has managed to find some from time to time so ask around.

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 21, 2010 1:55 pm

    Thanks for the kind words about Pacific Northwest wines. They tend to be under-appreciated on the East Coast.

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