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

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Amalie Robert Estate Climate Update: 2012 Mid-October

Hello and Welcome to Octo-Vember!

This is the climate update for the first 15 days of Octo-Vember 2012.

It seems that 2012 is winding down to be a very, very good year. The rains we so desperately needed arrived just in time, on Friday, Octo-Vember 12th. It was a fairly thorough soaking of about 0.86 inches in 24 hours. We commenced harvest that Sunday with our first 15 tons of Pinot Noir, and it was good. In fact it was so good, we went back for another 15 tons that Wednesday. Listen to what the great Inspector Jacques Clouseau has to say. Make that Chief Inspector.

Now, some folks may believe that rain at harvest is the worst possible thing. We can assure you that is not the case. Having the fuel filter fall off of the tractor, in the rain, during harvest, is much worse (photo and expletives are deleted.) We will try and present the features and benefits of rain just before the harvest window.

This reminds Ernie of his Microsoft days when the “product group” (PG) that writes the application software is ready to release a new version. They first have to give the code to “product support services” (PSS) for final sign off. PSS is the interface with the end user, aka the customer.

Before PSS signs off, there is a fair bit of back and forth with the PG. They say they will fix that bug in the next release. PSS knows how much time and energy it will take to support the end users, er ah customers, and wants it fixed before they will sign off.

When the software features do not work as documented, the phone rings at PSS. When the software does things it is not supposed to do, that is called an “undocumented feature.” The folks from the PG are, by this time, in Hawaii or Corfu and are most certainly incommunicado. For anyone who has enjoyed the benefits of Microsoft software, perhaps you can understand how some of these folks may never get to see the sun.

Feature and Benefits of Rain Just Before the Harvest Window


  • Feature: Recording nearly an inch of rain from Mother Nature 2 days before harvest is set to begin. Listen to what she has say about that. How convenient.

  • Benefit 1: Lower alcohol wine. This separates the early pickers from the rest of us. You will recognize these folks immediately. They are walking around with suntans and ear to ear grins as they have harvested in sunny and dry conditions. They are also in total shock as the sugar levels of these grapes will yield alcohol percentages often reserved for Port style wines.

Even with a parched summer and no measurable rainfall since June, the vines’ need for water will not be denied. The primary use of water is to cool the undersides of the leaves so that photosynthesis can continue. Once the efforts to extract moisture from the soil become too severe, the vines turn to the berries. The result is desiccation and the berries are robbed of their precious water. Queue the Chief Inspector.

  • Benefit 2: Mature flavor development. There is a reason Pinot Noir thrives in cool climates, and that reason is the time needed to achieve great flavors and aromas in the berries’ skin. Here in the Willamette Valley we are looking for 105 days for this to occur. That puts us right about the 12th day of Octo-Vember.

As long as the fruit is free of rot and the sugars are being held in check by the rains, we prefer to take the additional hang time. Each additional day of ripening puts us farther along the exponential curve of flavor and aroma development. Of course, the valley is very diverse in its microclimates and it is always a ticking time bomb trying to time harvest. What kind of bomb?

In summary, the right decision for Amalie Robert Estate was to let Mother Nature catch up on her sleep another time and give us a very nice shower to start things off. This concludes the Feature and Benefits section. Comments, Chief Inspector?




Some of you may be asking about dilution. Dilution refers to the situation where there is too much juice to balance the flavors and aromas from the skins. This can happen over the dinner table when some chronologically disadvantaged person is given a glass of wine cut with water. It can also happen in a fermenter when someone is trying to “fix” a high alcohol wine by adding back water. The result is lower alcohol, but a dilution of the flavors and aromas.

By now, you have most likely copped onto our plan. We wanted to dilute the sugars of our grapes with a little rain water. However, we also wanted to allow the skins to mature and continue developing intense flavors and aromas. The obvious choice was to hold tight through a little bit of rain and take advantage of more hang time. Of course, if you don’t farm your fruit to take a little rain, then Botrytis will eliminate this option for you and you must harvest before the rains.

Did we make the right call? We will know for sure in about 5 years. Today we can say that our sugar levels, measured in Brix, are running mid-23 on average. This will result in final alcohol levels around 13.5%. That is pretty typical for the vineyard at Amalie Robert Estate. The aromas coming off the wild yeast fermentations are wonderful. The colors are a deeply hued ruby red, not that there is anything wrong with that.

This late in the season, the numbers show what kind of finishing touches Mother Nature added to the vintage.

The first half of Octo-Vember gave us 144 Degree Days. Our high temperature was a blistering 92.5 degrees and our low temperature was just above the frost level at 37.60. Rainfall for this 15 day period was 2.13 inches. Total 2012 growing season Degree Days represent a perfect cool climate vintage at 2,068 and rainfall checks in at 11.09 inches. Say What?


If you have not had a chance to experience harvest, please take a moment to watch harvest at Amalie Robert Estate. The video was filmed and produced by VineStories.

It’s not too late to purchase tickets to attend the ¡Salud! Pinot Noir auction this year. If you can not attend, but would like to enter a sealed bid, there is still time. For more information, please follow this link for the Amalie Robert Estate ¡Salud! Cuvee: 2011 Amalie Robert ¡Salud! Cuvee, and this link for more information about placing a sealed bid: http://www.saludauction.org/auction/the-oregon-pinot-noir-auction/auction-items/. You may also contact Lindsay Coon at ¡Salud! by phone at 503-681-1850 or by e-mail at lindsay.coon@tuality.org.

Kindest Regards,

Dena & Ernie