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, March 24, 2017

Amalie Robert Estate: The March Memo - It's a Pinot in Pink Thing!

March brings out many wonderful things in the Pacific Northwest. Mother Nature really puts on a show with her kaleidoscope of colors and textures as the spring blooms intrepidly emerge. Surely the vines, and vintage 2017, cannot be far behind. And what a lovely vintage this is going to be!

As they say, hope springs eternal. But after living through the last Oregon winter, we are hoping for eternal spring! From record lows, and multiple snow events to hail storms and torrential rains, we are over received from old man winter. And then, we were robbed of an hour of sleep in mid-March. Maybe this Russia thing really has gotten out of hand.

As with the color spectrum of spring, the range of colors in Rosé wines can be overwhelming, limited only by the breadth and depth of your imagination. Each variety from Cabernet Franc to Zinfandel emulates a sliver of a rainbow. And if you have ever heard of someone who describes aromas and flavors as colors, then the rainbow of Rosé’s color palette is yours to complete. Alas, it is the same dilemma every year, so many wines, so little time…

And what better time for new Rosé wines than spring? Things are all anew and refreshed after a long winters nap. Brisk mornings and sunny afternoons are the order of the day. Dressing up the garden for an endless summer’s cornucopia of blooms and fresh produce is certainly a gateway activity to enjoying a chilled glass of Rosé as you admire your handiwork. Sunlight is captured and shimmers brilliantly as the wine swirls against a backdrop of apples, cheeses, strawberries and cured meats. If there were ever a reason to look forward to completing the Spring cleaning chores, a refreshing glass of Pinot in Pink Rosé would certainly be it.

First blush: 2016 Pinot in Pink Rosé
As harvest begins, we find there is always a bit of juice and a few wine berries at the bottom of our harvest bins. As it turns out, it is always the most developed wine berries that fall off the cluster and end up stranded in the harvest bins. We rescue these wayward wine berries and juice throughout our Pinot Noir harvest.

Each day that of harvest brings a few more gallons of juice and wine berries. They wait patiently in a fermenter for all of their clonal relations to come together. A few of the Dijon clones are usually represented in the first days of harvest. The Pommard clone is very gregarious and seems to be part of almost every harvest day. But it is the Wadenswil clone that is the hold out. Maybe it is the rootstocks, or the locations on the hill, or maybe they just need a little extra time to develop their magic. Ernie is patient with the Wadenswil clone and tries his best to make sure they get all the time they need. But whatever the reason, it seems Wadenswil is usually the last clone to leave the vineyard.

Once harvest is finally wrapped up, the complete lot of juice and whole wine berries is pressed to release all of their aromas and flavors and then fermented to dryness in stainless steel. The result is a vivacious Rosé with a striking color that presents the essence of Pinot Noir - Pinot in Pink Rosé. And next up will be the Bellpine Pearl, but that is a release for another month.

The 2016 Vintage: Playing chicken with Mother Nature. Vintage 2016 was another barn burner for the record books, but with a twist. The continuing pattern of warm night time temperatures established way back from 2012 was in full effect.  But this year the water spigot did not get fully turned off during the summer and we recorded measurable precipitation every month during the growing season.

We bore witness to the blogosphere reporting the Willamette Valley once again had pre-mature fermentation with one of the earliest harvests on record. And once again, Ernie would not get out the harvest bins until we saw a little mid-September rainfall. Note: Playing chicken with Mother Nature is not for the weak kneed or timid.

And pretty much right on par with 2015, our first significant rainfall occurred overnight on the 16th of September with 0.36 inches being recorded. We could not believe it. The soils were as dry as the day before, but the rain gauge does not lie. The wine berries were drawing up that soil moisture and continuing to develop aroma and flavor, just as if we had planned it that way, which, in fact, we had.

The 2016 harvest began in earnest at Amalie Robert Estate on September 23. It was a young block of Wadenswil grafted onto 44-53 rootstock at the highest elevation of the property that began the show. And then the mystery of the vintage began to unfold. The 28th of September recorded 0.86 inches of rainfall followed the next day by 0.27 inches. The first couple days of October brought another 0.93 inches. That’s over 2 inches of rain in a week! Now, we are getting somewhere, but only if you were able to hold out for the rains.

Is ripeness sugar accumulation or aroma and flavor development with moderate tannins? When and why do you harvest and who gets to make that decision? This is where the motivation behind contract vineyards and estate grown vines becomes apparent. Some blink, some don’t.

And that is when we got with the program. With each passing day of harvest, the sugar concentrations were dropping and the aromas and flavors were coming on strong. And since we leave leaves to shade our Pinot Noir, the aromas and flavors were elegant and perfumed.

The temperatures also began to cool considerably in September. The vintage accumulated 2,177 degree days, but only 300 of those were in September and the last 40 came in by mid-October. The heat came on just like voting - early and often. And then it was over. Vintages have consequences…

You can read the full Harvest After Action Report (AAR) on our FLOG (Farming bLOG):

Kindest Regards,

Dena & Ernie