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!


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

- Rusty Gaffney, PinotFile - September 2016


"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


"...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


© 2005 – 2017 Amalie Robert Estate, LLC

Friday, January 6, 2017

Amalie Robert Estate: 2017 January Reset

Hello and Welcome,

This is the January “Reset” from Amalie Robert Estate. Happy New Year!

 Go ahead and push it. We know you want to.
Go ahead and push it. We know you want to.

Each quarter we will be updating our website to reflect the transition of the seasons. This e-mail provides you with a glimpse into what’s happening “back on the farm.” You can always check out the full details on our “Back Home” page at And we know it’s been a while since you have been FLOG’d, but rest assured you will continue to receive monthly FLOG’s as the growing season heats up in April.

The biggest, little news we have to share is that the neighborhood came together before harvest this year and completed a sub-Willamette Valley AVA Petition. This was a fairly lengthy process, in that the original motivation arose in March of 2016 when Ernie polled the neighborhood to determine if everyone wanted to be part of a very large sub-AVA being proposed by a very large global wine company, or should we take control of our own destiny and go it alone. After the obligatory bit of yibber-yabber and back and forth, the dust settled and we had agreed boundaries (based on geology, soils and climate) and a name. And the very coolest thing of all is that the geology and resulting soils supporting our sub-AVA are unique not only to our little area, or even the Willamette Valley, but the entire world! Suffice it to say, it is good dirt and we are fortunate to have put our roots down here.

The Willamette Valley stretches about 150 miles from above Portland to down past Eugene. Our perfect little piece of dirt is located in the mid-point of the Willamette Valley, longitudinally speaking, about 60 miles south of Portland and nestled into the foothills on the western side of the valley. Practically speaking, we are about 15 miles west of Salem.

Oh, and it is a tiny little sub-AVA of about 4,100 acres comprised of the following producing vineyards and wineries that you may have heard of: Amalie Robert Estate (100% sub-AVA sourced fruit and estate bottled), Freedom Hill Vineyard (our neighbor to the east with whom we share a fence line), Croft Vineyards (tucked into the corner and bordering Freedom Hill Vineyard), Erratic Oaks Vineyard (across the road from Croft Vineyards and Freedom Hill Vineyard.) Then up and around the corner is Illahe Vineyards and Winery, Ash Creek Vineyards (across the road from Illahe Vineyards and Winery), Open Claim Vineyards (the next property north of Ash Creek Vineyards), and completing the loop is Mistletoe Vineyards, planted closest to Mt. Pisgah which forms the geological basis for our sub-AVA petition. It’s a pretty good crowd, all in all. And yet to bear fruit is Fern Creek Vineyard.

Based on the TTB’s schedule (who reviews these sub-AVA petitions,) we should know more in about 4 years.

It was a late Christmas present when we noticed this come across the wire. Rusty Gaffney publishes the PinotFile covering California and Oregon Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. And he does the work. He travels around his covered territory and not only tastes wines, but meets the people who farm the vineyards and blend and bottle the wines. He seems to be in touch with his agrarian roots. We can dig on that. This is the 2016 Oregon Pinot Noir All-Americans.

And while we typically do not run with the crowd, if you are going to be in a crowd this is another good crowd to be in. Especially if you can get to the top, or as we like to say, “It’s a long way to the top if you got some grapes to haul!” Queue the bagpipes…

What you do not see here, from the voluptuous 2012 vintage, is The Other Reserve. That’s a story for another time. Maybe when our sub-AVA is approved…

The theme for the first quarter of our brand spanking New Year is “Champagne Deconstructed.” Note: this is not to be confused with the Champagne Riots of 1910, which was not nearly as much fun as you might think it could be.

While it may not be a proven fact, it certainly is a known fact that we (as in all of us) liberate more bubbles (release CO2 into the atmosphere) during the holidays than any other time of year (climate change be damned.) What you may not know is that those metal cages that keep the corks secured until that magic moment presents itself, are held in place by six twists. Each and every one of them, from every corner of the planet, as if the planet had corners. Could that be globalization interacting with your wine experience? However if you are brave and daring, the sabre may be your preferred method of bubble liberation.

So here they are. The three grapes you have been enjoying over the past few weeks, whether you knew it or not! Click here to read the story on Champagne Deconstructed:

Chardonnay is the most widely planted variety on the planet. We produce a very scintillating stainless steel fermented Chardonnay called Her Silhouette. Here is the latest press from the 2014 vintage (not so bad for whole cluster pressed, stainless steel fermented Chardonnay):

All stainless-fermented and aged, this deserves to be on your short list of can't-miss choices in a domestic Chardonnay. Year after year it scores well, with fresh, vivid fruit, a crisp and inviting mouthfeel, lively spices and ripe tree fruits. There's a seam of wintergreen running alongside in this new vintage, leaving your mouth feeling scrubbed clean.
          - Paul Gregutt, Wine Enthusiast, August 2016 - 91 points, Editors' Choice

Pinot Meunier mind you, is not damaged goods - used maybe, but aren’t we all? Often the unsung hero in Champagne, it can add body and texture to the final assemblage. And while the Parisians will not come right out and say it, the most acreage under vine in Champagne is planted to Pinot Meunier. This wine completes the “Alt-Red” part of the program.

We do this too. In fact it is the highest rated still Pinot Meunier from Oregon according to Vinous and the Wine Advocate. This Forbes article “The Grape Divide” featuring Dena is also a good reference for this variety.

2014 vintage: Deep red. Aromas of dried cherry, redcurrant and rhubarb, with a mineral element adding vivacity. Bitter cherry and anise flavors are enlivened by juicy acidity, picking up a smoky nuance on the back half. This lively, focused wine finishes with very good cut and smooth, late-arriving tannins.
          - Josh Raynolds, Vinous, January 2017 - 92 points

Pinot Noir, be still my beating heart. With the exception of the miniscule plantings of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, Syrah, Viognier and 24 Gewürztraminer vines, the rest of our 55,000 estate grown and produced vines are Pinot Noir. And on our farm, we make some blends - EIEIO. And they are all pretty farmin’ good - EIEIO.

And just like wine, there are all kinds of different dogs for all kinds of different pee-poles. Note: This is Ernie seeing if you are still paying attention.

Today we are talking about the Dijon Clones bottling - One of the most diverse Pinot Noirs in our portfolio. It is a blend of all 7 of the Dijon Clones we grow throughout our 35 acres of producing vines. Each small block of vines represents a single clone and is grafted onto a rootstock to best match our undulating soils. Fermented in small 1.5 ton fermenters, punched down by mere mortals with indigenous yeast and whole clusters for that ever evolving stem tannin goodness. Matured for a year and a half in barrel to soften those alluring stem tannins and another year in the cellar before release. The Dijon Clones is a consistent performer and built to evolve gracefully over time.

2008: Light, bright red. Seductively perfumed, expressive aromas of dried red berries, allspice and cinnamon, with a slow-mounting floral quality and a hint of blood orange. Light in body but potent, offering sweet redcurrant and raspberry flavors that stain the palate. An intense spicy overtone carries through the nervy, mineral-driven finish. Lots of flavor intensity here but there's zero fat on this wine.
          - Josh Raynolds, Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, July/Aug 2011 – 92 points

2009: Bright red. Sexy, spice-accented aromas of red berry preserves, potpourri and sandalwood, with a touch of cola in the background. Shows very good intensity and sweetness, offering lithe raspberry and cherry flavors and a hint of bitter blood orange. Closes on a spicy note, with excellent clarity and persistent sweetness.
          - Josh Raynolds, Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, July/Aug 2012 – 92 points

2010: Bright red. Heady, exotic aromas of fresh red berries, Asian spices and potpourri, with subtle smoke and mineral nuances adding complexity. Silky, expansive and appealingly sweet, offering intense raspberry and rose pastille flavors and a strong spicecake quality that builds on the back half. Pure, focused and strikingly persistent on the finish, which is firmed by fine-grained, harmonious tannins.
          - Josh Raynolds, Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, July/Aug 2014 – 92 points

2011: Bright red. Potent red berry, floral pastille and incense aromas, with an exotic hint of blood orange emerging slowly. Lithe and sharply focused, with its intense raspberry and bitter cherry flavors communicating a suave blend of power and finesse. Delivers a wallop of sweet red fruit character without any excess weight and finishes spicy and very long, with a bright mineral note.
          - Josh Raynolds, Vinous, October 2015 – 91 points

2012: Vivid red. Pungent red and dark berry scents are complemented by underbrush, mocha and sandalwood, with a mineral element adding lift. Juicy and concentrated on the palate, with spice-tinged black raspberry and bitter cherry flavors becoming sweeter with aeration. Dusty tannins sneak in late on the long, focused finish, with the berry and spice notes echoing emphatically.
          - Josh Raynolds, Vinous, October 2015 – 93 points

2013: Vivid red. Smoky red berries and cherry cola on the pungent, mineral-tinged nose. Pliant and seamless in texture; a spicy element emerges on the back half and adds bite to sweet raspberry, cherry and floral pastille flavors. Sappy and very well-balanced, displaying impressive depth for the vintage. Closes long, floral and seamless, with supple tannins adding gentle grip.
          - Josh Raynolds, Vinous, December 2016 – 92 points

And that, in some combination, is what you have been enjoying – with gas of course. Hopefully it was Rosé. We love a good Rosé. In fact we have two of them queued up for Q2 - Scooby Do!

Happy New Year!

Dena & Ernie