Introduction

Winemaking: The Continuation of Terroir by Other Means.®

Welcome to the Amalie Robert Estate Farming Blog, aka FLOG. By subscribing, you will receive regular FLOGGINGS throughout the growing season. The FLOGGING will begin with the Spring Cellar Report in April. FLOGGINGS will continue each month and detail how the vintage is shaping up. You may also be FLOGGED directly after the big Cluster Pluck with the yearly Harvest After Action Report. Subscribe now and let the FLOGGINGS begin!

Rusty

"This is one of the Willamette Valley’s most distinguished wineries, but not one that is widely known."

- Rusty Gaffney, PinotFile - September 2016

Josh

"Dena Drews and Ernie Pink have been quietly producing some of Oregon's most elegant and perfumed Pinots since the 2004 vintage. Their 30-acre vineyard outside the town of Dallas, abutting the famed Freedom Hill vineyard where Drews and Pink live, is painstakingly farmed and yields are kept low so production of these wines is limited. Winemaking includes abundant use of whole clusters, which is no doubt responsible for the wines' exotic bouquets and sneaky structure…"

- Josh Raynolds, Vinous - October 2015

David

"...Dallas growers Dena Drews and Ernie Pink... showed me this July three of their reserve bottlings and thereby altered my perception of their endeavors. Since these are produced in only one- or two-barrel quantities, they offer an extreme instance of a phenomenon encountered at numerous Willamette addresses, whose really exciting releases are extremely limited. But they also testify, importantly, to what is possible; and what’s possible from this site in these hands revealed itself to be extraordinary!... And what a Syrah!"

- David Schildknecht, The Wine Advocate - October 2013

Wine & Spirits

"Finding that their whole-cluster tannins take some time to integrate, Pink and Drews hold their wines in barrel for up to 18 months - so Amalie Robert is just releasing its 2008s. And what a stellar group of wines: Bright and tart, they possess both transparency and substance, emphasizing notes of rosehips and sandalwood as much as red berries. The pinot noirs alone would likely have earned Amalie Robert a top 100 nod this year. But the winery also produces cool-climate syrah that rivals the best examples from the Sonoma Coast. And the 2009 Heirloom Cameo, their first attempt at a barrel-fermented chardonnay, turned out to be one of our favorite Oregon chardonnays of the year. Ten vintages in, Amalie Robert has hit its stride."

- Luke Sykora, Wine & Spirits Magazine – September 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Amalie Robert Estate Vintage Update: 2005 Harvest After Action Report (AAR)

Hello and Welcome,

We would like to start this 2005 Harvest Review by introducing you to “The Torch” at Amalie Robert Estate. As near as we can tell, “The Torch” grew out of an abandoned squirrel’s nest. What grew from that nest is 6 trunks that form a single root system and a magnificent tree. During the summer, this giant of a tree leafs out a full canopy that is deep green. As harvest approaches, the leaves turn to yellow and “The Torch” is revealed. It is a reminder to us not to harvest our grapes until the flavors in the fruit are fully developed.

Let’s start with the numbers. The 2005 growing season at Amalie Robert Estate was significantly cooler than past vintages. Our heat units this year registered just over 2,000 degree days. This is about 250 degree days less than 2004, and 700 degree days less than 2003. I am not sure what this says about global warming, but the 2005 growing season is a return to cool climate viticulture.

Regarding rainfall and soil moisture, 2005 started off very dry. With very little rain in the winter, the soil was not fully recharged (19.10 inches v 39.76 inches, historical average). From the vines point of view, this is like starting a cross country journey with only half a tank! For a dry farmed vineyard, this was not very good news. Please see the table below:

Rainfall
Q1
Q2
Q3
Q4
Historical Average: 28.38” thru Q3 (1961-1990)
19.72”
5.91”
2.75”
20.04”
2005 Growing Season: 21.76”
9.52”
10.35”
1.89”
---
Delta
(10.20”)
4.44”
(0.86)
---
Note: One inch of rainfall is 27,200 gallons per acre.




2004 Growing Season: 23.64” (for comparison)
14.38”
6.36”
2.90”
9.58”

Well, not to worry. As Ernie reached out to some of the “veterans” in the Willamette Valley, he heard some calming words: “Oregon gets about the same amount of moisture every year. You just don’t know what month you are going to get it”. It was true! We had a surplus of rain during bloom that filled the tank. We were good to go, nearly spot on for rainfall as compared to the 2004 growing season. It’s nice to have friends that have been doing this for a long time.

For the ultra-technical among us, here are the key dates for this year: budbreak March 15th, Bloom June 11th, Veraison August 10th, and harvest began in earnest on September 30th and was finished on October18th.

Now let’s talk about the grapes. As we close our 7th year, we have learned a few things. One of those things is to listen to good advice when it comes along. Our good friend Dick Erath said “Wait to remove the “double shoots” this year. The vines are packed with nitrogen and will not set fruit if you remove these “energy sinks” too early”. He was right, of course.

Our Pinot Noir fruit set this year was just about 1.7 tons per acre. We thinned excess clusters from the “double shoots” and wings from all the main clusters. We removed the portion of the crop that would be a burden to the vine and not fully ripen in this cool vintage. Mother Nature provided her one/two combination of rain and heat at just the right times. Even though we do not understand her timing, we are confident she got it right. The rest, as they say, is history.

The wines are now all barreled down for a long winter’s rest. Once again, we made the Dijon Clones Pinot Noir blend in the field. We have 7 specific blocks in the vineyard planted to Dijon Clones of Pinot Noir. Since we farm the vineyard, we have intimate knowledge of how these blocks are progressing and more importantly how their flavors are maturing. This year we chose to base the wine on Dijon Clone 777. There will also be Dena’s favorite, Clone 115 as a major part of the blend. We will round out this wine with clones 667 and 113.

There is also something very special in the winery this year. Ernie’s favorite Dijon Clone of Pinot Noir is 114. Block 11 is planted to 114 on 5C rootstock, all 891 vines worth. Due to poor set last year, we only had 200 pounds of 114. The fruit was stunning in the vineyard this year, and there was enough for a couple of barrels. We will have more on these wines, the Chardonnay, and Amalie’s CuvĂ©e, in the spring.

We end this 2005 Harvest Review with some exciting news. We are planting “The North Orchard” to Pinot Noir in the Spring of 2006. The North Orchard is about 8 ½ acres of our highest elevation vineyard site. The soil is Bellpine, a well drained silty clay loam, much like the rest of the vineyard. There are two slopes, one facing due south and the other with a predominantly east facing aspect. We have tracked temperatures on these two slopes for last couple of years. The south facing slope is about 200 degree days warmer. Good to know…

For those of you wondering why we would name a vineyard block “The North Orchard”, here is the inside story. We purchased our vineyard site from an older gentleman who had farmed this ground for 30 years. When we found our vineyard, he was growing Montmorency cherries on it. The last cherry block he had put into production was in 1982. He called it The North Orchard, and so do we. Thanks Bob.

Kindest Regards,

Dena & Ernie