*95 Points ~ Wine Enthiusiast *Editors' Choice
AVA: Willamette Valley
LOCATION: Burnell Rd.
SOIL TYPE: Bellpine
YEAR PLANTED: 2004
CLONAL MATERIAL: 100% Dijon 115
VINEYARD SIZE: 85-acre vineyard, 14-acre PGC blocks spread over many sections.
VINIFICATION: 1.75-ton open-top fermenters done with 100% whole cluster.
PICKING DATE: 09/29/18
OWNERS: Dan and Helen Dusschee
PRODUCTION: 234 cases bottled
Winemaking and Notes:This is simply perfect material from one single block of the vineyard the East Liberty Block, all Dijon 115 Clone Pinot Noir planted in 2004. This bottling has always emphasized the ability for whole cluster fermentation to shine with fruit from this vineyard. From 2012-2015 this bottling drew from fermenters that were generally 50-60% whole cluster fermentation. In 2016 a few barrels that were 100% whole cluster found there way into the mix. In 2017 we have committed this block of the vineyard and this particular bottling to 100% whole cluster fermentations.
In 2018 we have kept that going. They are simply the most provocative, distinct and thrilling barrels of all the scores of Dijon 115 barrels from which we have to choose. The relationship between this block’s fruit and the tightly wound, highly evocative aromatic quality of Pinot Noir that we know Oregon can produce under the best of circumstances is perfect. The Duchesse’s dedication to increasing the quality of their farming and moving from sustainable farming to organic farming is paying dividends in the health of all their plants and the quality of fruit those plants are producing. This particular block has adapted quickly and the fruit and wine show the results. While Freedom Hill is historically known for its power and structure, it is evolving as it matures as a site that layers beauty on top of that infrastructure. This wine has floral tones, graphite, herbs, red fruit and saline notes all intertwined even at this young age. There is still power, but the tannins are incredibly fine-grained making for a wine of precision, length and complexity.
Wine history: The agricultural history of this area near Salem dates back to the mid-1850s, though it wasn't until the 1970s that winemakers started to discover the area as having ideal growing conditions for high-quality wine grapes. It was around this time that a few modern pioneers, including Don Byard of Hidden Springs, planted a patchwork of vineyards in the Eola-Amity Hills. Soon after, other pioneers followed suite and today this area produces world-class, handcrafted cool-climate varietals. The appellation became official in 2006.
Climate: The Eola-Amity Hills region enjoys a temperate climate of warm summers and mild winters, and 40 inches of annual rain, most of which falls outside of the growing season. Average maximum temperatures are 62 degrees Fahrenheit in April and 83 degrees Fahrenheit in July, which contributes to the ideal conditions for the cool-climate grape varieties that dominate the Eola-Amity Hills. The climate in this region is greatly influenced by its position due east of the Van Duzer Corridor, which provides a break in the coast range that allows cool Pacific Ocean air to flow through. This drops temperatures in the region dramatically, especially during late summer afternoons, helping to keep grape acids firm.
Soil: The soils in the Eola-Amity Hills predominantly contain volcanic basalt from ancient lava flows as well as marine sedimentary rocks and alluvial deposits at the lower elevations of the ridge. This combination results in a relatively shallow, rocky set of well-drained soils, which typically produce small grapes with great concentration.
Topography: The Eola Hills, and its northern extension, the Amity Hills, are part of a North Willamette Valley hill chain that developed out of intense volcanic activity and the collision of the Pacific and North American plates. The main ridge of the Eola Hills runs north-south and has numerous lateral ridges on both sides that run east-west. The majority of the region's vineyard sites exist at elevations between 250 to 700 feet.
Site Characteristics: Freedom Hill Vineyard lies toward the eastern edge of the Coast Range Foothills. While associated geographically with the Eola Hills the site lies south and west of the border of the Eola-Amity Hill Appellation outside the town of Monmouth. The vineyard is planted on a marine sedimentary type of soil known as Bellpine. The vineyard is also located just south of the Van Duzer wind corridor which allows for more consistent average temperatures due to a lack of afternoon and evening offshore breezes rolling through. The vineyard was established in 1982 by the people who still own and manage it to this day, Dan and Helen Dusschee. While they may not have realized it at the time they were ultimately settling onto a site destined to be seen as one of the top Pinot Noir vineyards in the state of Oregon. Their rigorous and professional approach to the management of the vineyard has brought about that greatness and even though the vineyard suffered through a scourge of phyloxera replantings and expansion of the site have shown that there is a clear and indomitable of terroir here. We had the great fortune of being in the right place at the right time with the right need for fruit in 2012 and we have had the great fortune to produce what we consider to be some of the greatest and most focused Pinot Noirs we have ever made.