2021 Freedom Hill Vineyard Perspicacious Pinot Noir
Site History: 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 settling onto a site destined to be 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 phylloxera replantings, expansion of the site has shown that there is a distinct and indomitable terroir. Few non-estate vineyards in Oregon can reach as far back in history with regards to being bottled as a single vineyard designated wine as Freedom Hill Vineyard. Panther Creek Winery began designating the site in the late 80s. St. Innocent began doing so in the early 90s. In 2013 their son, Dustin, rejoined the farm and began taking over day-t0-day management operations. Even while expanding to slightly over 90 acres over the years, this vineyard remains a family owned, lived upon and operated venture, something that is becoming increasingly rare and, thus, that much more special in Oregon.
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 of 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. This site is known for powerful or, at least, extremely intense Pinot Noirs. Wines tend to be very dark in color and operate on the blue, purple, black end of the fruit spectrum. Tannin structure can be impressive. This vineyard has the capacity to produce some of the most extraordinary wine made in the state.
The Block: Since 2012 when we initially began sourcing fruit from Freedom Hill Vineyard we have chosen a sub-set of the different blocks to bottle based upon the clone within the block. Not all blocks in this (or any vineyard for that matter) are equal. For instance, we get Dijon 115 from three separate parts of the vineyard but the Dijon 115 bottling comes entirely from one of those sections. In 2016 we were offered a block of Wadensvil next to that very block of Dijon 115 that we are impressed by. These two blocks are adjacent and near the highest point in the vineyard. Another winery chose to not renew its lease in this block and we stepped into an interesting situation. The block was, oddly, under much more duress than our Dijon 115 despite its proximity. We devised a plan with the Dusschees to restore the vine health in the block and get this section of the vineyard back on track. In 2017 we did a small bottling from here and by 2018 this Wadensvil block was singing and definitely vies for “best bottling of the vintage” amongst the staff.
Farming Practices: Since 2013 Freedom Hill Vineyard has been moving diligently and consistently from conventional farming practices to organic farming. While not 100% turned to organic practices it is closer to that than it is to so-called “sustainable farming.” Great attention has been paid to specific cover cropping, foliar feeding and cultivation. The result is a healthier vineyard with a greater range of blocks producing single vineyard quality style wines.
Picking Dates, Tonnages, Tons/Acre: September 25 East Liberty Wadensvil 8.83 tons (2.93 tons/acre).
Vinification: The Perspicacious Cuvee is the synergy of vineyard, block, vinification and winemaking. For the 4th iteration of this bottling we chose the gorgeous looking and tasting East Liberty Wadensvil Block. What does not change is that this wine comes exclusively from a single fermenter that was fermented with 100% whole clusters.
Winemaking: There are lots of things winemakers can do to “make” a wine into something. We consistently reiterate our commitment to making real wine. We don’t use any of the catalog of stuff that can Frankenstein wines from one thing to another. However, we don’t also do nothing. In the case of the Perspicacious Cuvee it is identifying a fruit source that can not only take an extra daily intervention but benefit from it in such a way that the resulting wine is a whole measure different and set aside from even fruit from the same block. In this case the fermenter in question is only pigeaged (never pumped over) and instead of our normal 1x/day regiment for every other fermenter it is bumped up to two. This seems like a minor change. It is not.
Barrels: 1 new Francois Freres and a 4 times used barrel.
Notes: The concept behind the Freedom Hill Vineyard, Perspicacious Cuvee was to utilize the rare natural assets this site possesses and to attempt to coax out an even greater level of largesse but without upsetting the natural balance of the wine. The greatest sites in Burgundy have an easy relationship between their natural biochemical makeup, their fruit intensity and their tannic structure. In the United States we have little problem with finding ripeness in most vintages but balance with the internal components and the tannic structure can be quite fine but it is usually not at the preternatural levels of the best sites in Burgundy. We have long felt that Freedom Hill, especially certain parts of it, had a specialness that was there but needed care in nursing out of the grapes. This bottling is an attempt to harness the deep natural qualities of the vineyard and display them in a way that shows off the upper ceiling potential of Pinot Noir in this country. This wine has both tremendous intensity of fruit and deep back palate tannin structure that is rarely found in American Pinot Noir. This is a wine that will require a great level of patience to get the full result from. Our first bottling of this was from the 2014 vintage and it is still many years away from full resolution. Act accordingly. This finished with a TA of 5.9, a pH of 3.51 and was bottled with under 25 ppm free SO2 and less than 70 ppm total SO2.