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, September 19, 2015

Amalie Robert Estate Climate Update: 2015 Mid-September

Hello and Welcome,

This is the abbreviated Mid-September Climate Update. We wrote it quick, so you can read it quick.
  

We have survived the calm before the storm, the storm, and we shall now begin the Great Cluster Pluck of 2015! If our calculations are correct, we will begin harvest about a week in advance of the Great Cluster Pluck of 2014.

The first half of September continued to show warm days and warm nights, but also started the transition to Okto-vember. Okto-vember is that wondrous 61 day period when we rejoice the year’s bounty and consume an inordinate amount of ARBs (Adult Recreational Beverages.) And duck. There will most assuredly be duck. And maybe a bit of foraged fungus. Yes, duck and fungus – that’s the ticket!

The vines have also picked up on this signal. That and the 0.83 inches of rain we received in the last week or so. As was the case in 2012, 2013 and 2014, Ernie has waited for a little rain before he pulled in any fruit. This allows time for the vines to rehydrate and complete all the internal and external gyrations needed to fully ripen our wine berries. And maybe an ARB to hydrate the harvest team.

Specifically, this means the high concentrations of sugar in the desiccated wine berries have been diluted, all the while allowing for additional hang time to develop aromas and flavors that you can enjoy in the resulting lower alcohol wine. All we can say is that great wines are made in the vineyard. Not so great wines are “fixed” in the winery. Yeah, who’s your farmer?


Now we know that others have started earlier and some have even finished by now. That’s called pre-mature fermentation. But that is good news for us because it means the fixed labor pool of harvesters may be more available to meet our harvest schedule. Don’tcha just love it when a great plan comes together!

And then there is the walnut tree. It channels Mother Nature and gives us the sign that it is time to harvest our wine berries. The yellowing leaves are an age old indicator that it is time to get them off. So we wash the bins and buckets and we select the blocks for our first harvest target package - some Dijon Clones and Pommard. The Wadenswil is special and we are gonna hang that just a bit longer. 


And it’s really not all that hard. The vines are all laid out in a grid like pattern and we have the map.We know where they grow and we’re comin’ to collect!


The numbers, while mostly academic at this point are presented in a fair and balanced way, not subject to debate. They are the A.R.E. numbers and that, from our modest point of view, trumps all. And they show a bit of temperament that seems to be lacking in the media frenzy at this particular time of year. Could the 2015 Hell-bent for Leather vintage be showing a little subtlety? Maybe not yet, but a really sweet spot of ripening is just ahead, on the horizon, not far from here in a reality near you, unless you couldn't wait and have prematurely fermented. Not the master of your own domain? Hmm...

We have recorded 168 degree days for the first 15 days of September, 2015. The growing season to-date has now accumulated a total of 2,165 degree days. Our high temperature was a “blistering” 97.2 degrees and our low temperature was a “cold shoulder” 37.6 degrees. But here is the real reason we have tempered the vintage, in a word, rain.


It started off slow, with a 0.23 inch teaser during the first week of September, but that was not even enough to keep the dust down. But then at the mid-month mark, we collected a nice little shower over a 48 hour period. Long, cool and continuous rain left us with about 0.60 inches in the rain gauge. When we add our 0.83 inches of rain for the first half of September to our August to-date total of 4.53 inches, we finish with 5.36 inches for the growing season to-date. And we still have the rest of September to go with typical showers in the forecast. We should easily get up to 6 inches.

Now, as you find yourself heading into Okto-vember with an ARB firmly in your grasp, you can just imagine all the fun we are having harvesting wine. In fact, you can sing along right here: Now we’re at the seasons’ end with winds and rain, you bet!


Kindest Regards,

Dena & Ernie