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 – 2020 Amalie Robert Estate, LLC

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Amalie Robert Estate Climate Update: April 2020 & Library Pinot Noirs

Hello and Welcome, 
This is the Amalie Robert Estate Climate Update: April 2020. A FLOG Communication from Dena and Ernie @AmalieRobert Estate. 
It has just been a lovely Willamette Valley start to the growing season. Wind, rain, sun and clouds provide an ever-changing landscape of environmental conditions that afford us the opportunity to conquer the agrarian challenges of getting the vineyard ready to bear fruit. And of course, it would not be springtime in wine country without a visit to the shop for some equipment maintenance. Then just wait until you see the numbers! They are just one sig-fig this year, but they are stunning.

First off, we have a little housekeeping to attend to. We have begun using Evite to help us manage in the times of COVID-19. Evite allows us to send invitations to help manage visits to the winery, so that we can comply with social distancing requirements, while not being socially distant. We have yet to figure out how to schedule specific times, so if you RSVP please indicate your preferred time. We also send an Evite to announce new releases. Note: We are not shipping any wine without your approval.

When you receive an Evite invitation, please notice there are often multiple pages to the invitation. The cover card is just the first page of the invitation (and notice the Pinot Noir stamp on the envelope). The second and third pages will contain details about releases or visits to the winery. Label images or other artwork are sometimes included. From time to time Ernie may insert a coded message, such as the timeless “Be Sure to Drink Your Ovaltine”. Also, we are introducing The Big Blue Button.

And while we are on the topic of cards and wine, we would like to point out that Mother’s Day is Sunday May 10th. Most of the country is still under lockdown and that means someone has to figure out how to make brunch for Mom. We suggest cinnamon spiced waffles with fresh strawberries and homemade whipped cream. Super easy and a very colorful presentation with purple lilacs for the table or a dozen pink roses - like Pinot in Pink Rosé, the perfect brunch wine.

There is still time to up your waffle making game before Sunday, and we are confident in your corkscrew abilities. You’ve got this! But if you need some Rosés, we are here to help. Pinot in Pink Rosé 6 packs are still $100, shipping included. Just press the Big Blue Button.

Digging in the dirt. That is springtime in wine country. The vineyard floor has been recycled to release the nutrients from last fall’s post harvest cover crops. Then Ernie prepped the soil and drilled the new spring cover crop. And the rain played right into Ernie’s plan to germinate the new seeds. Rain in April doesn’t actually require a lot of planning, just being ready to go when the sun peeks out is usually good enough. And so now we have about 18 acres of vineyard floor that is growing fertilizer for the vines. Once their above ground usefulness is at an end, these cover crops will be tilled under and the natural nutrient recycling lives on.

We recorded bud break on April 13th. The vines are starting to wake up and they have their pre-programmed plan. They know exactly what they are going to do and when they are going to do it. We have our plan as well. We know what we are going to do, we just don’t know when we are going to do it. We are in the driver’s seat, but we are certainly not in control.

Next on the vines’ agenda is flowering. We usually have to wait until Dena’s birthday in June, but sometimes we have to wait longer, and sometimes we don’t. That’s farming where we remember fondly, the words of Yogi Berra who once said, “You can observe a lot by just watching”. We will know it when we see it, and we will let you know when we see it.
Why yes, we have a little equipment maintenance to do. Of Ernie’s 3 Italian tractors, two of them have sequestration stations, aka cabs. And both of these tractors are equipped with air conditioning. (You would think the glass would offer UV protection like your vehicle’s windshield does, but hey this is agriculture.)

And it just so happens that both of the cab tractors need their air conditioning compressors replaced this year. These things usually run in three’s, but the third machine is an open station crawler, so the air conditioning is “au naturel”.

The alternative to not restoring the air conditioning function is to operate the tractor as a full-size convection oven. The heat is from the tractor engine and drive train, and the sunlight is unfiltered and magnified through the glass. The fan, while not providing any cooling, does distribute the heat evenly throughout the cooking space. Replace SPF 15 sunscreen with olive oil, salt, pepper and a dash of paprika and you end up with braised winegrower by mid-August.

And wouldn’t you know it. One tractor has a hydraulic pump attached to the crankshaft pulley. There is no way to just slip on a new belt. That means to change the belt that runs the air conditioning compressor, the entire front end of this machine has to be disassembled. And then reassembled. Correctly. While this is unfortunate, it is not uncommon in farm equipment.

The first thing to cover for the Vintage 2020 numbers is that 2020 is a leap year. If you were born on February 29th or have a wedding anniversary, this is your Special Year! Enjoy it now, as 2024 is a long ways off, and “the future ain’t what it used to be”. On February 29th we recorded a high temperature of 45.3 degrees and a low temperature of 29.7 degrees. We hope you made the most of it.

For the first month of the growing season, April 2020, we logged 133.5 Degree Days. The high temperature for the 30 day period was 79.3 degrees and the low temperature was 30.7 degrees. The first half of the month was cooler registering 41.6 Degree Days and recorded the low temperature. The second half of the month registered 91.9 Degree Days and recorded the high temperature.

And it seems Ernie’s prior vintage rain dances have a half-life. April rain slogged in at 1.33 inches. Note: The rainfall will continue to be expressed in 2 sig-figs. There is no reason for it, it just seems like the right thing to do. Kinda like some lockdown regimes.

Cleaning up the cellar. The COVID-19 SIP regulations have given us an opportunity to raid our cellar and we imagine you may have too. We have tucked into a little Spanish wine from the 1980’s which is sublime, and Ernie’s favorite Northern Rhône Côte Rôties from the 1990’s and somehow we found a bottle of Bordeaux from 1982. We tucked that one back away as it seems it has another 100 or more years to go.

And then we found this. From the very corner, bottom shelf of our library racks we uncovered a cache of our very early vintages. Only a few bottles of some blends and just a handful of cases in total of 2006-2007-2008-2009 vintages. There is an odd magnum or two to be had as well. Of course, we immediately performed the necessary Quality Control measures and are able to report that these wines are just singing!

The first vintage in our estate winery was 2006. That was the year, trial by fire. But it worked out pretty well. We made our first vintage of The Reserve in 2006 – just about 24 cases worth. So, we sent our first vintage of The Reserve, Amalie’s Cuvée and Estate Pinot Noirs off for review. And we sent them to the toughest critic of them all – Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar. The best review and highest score awarded from the 2006 vintage was a 93. And we were very, very pleased to see that our inaugural vintage of The Reserve earned that score. Our individual wines, Amalie’s Cuvée and Estate both came in at 92 points. As far as inspiration goes, 2006 was a very significant year for Dena and Ernie at Amalie Robert Estate. And then there was Ernie’s favorite vintage, 2007 where The Reserve once again earned the top score from the vintage from not only Stephen Tanzer, but also Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. Just sayin’.

Please have a look at the following availability. We are offering these wines first come, first serve. If you see something you like, just press the Big Blue Button and an E-mail window to Dena will open where you can indicate your selections. Please specify 750 ml or 1.5 liter format. Dena will confirm back with pricing and availability. Happy Hunting!

And here is a Vintage Scorecard to help you in your quest. You can also check out the Vintage Vestibule to review past vintages.

We have all SIP’d and pulled together to flatten the curve. Well done one and all! However, there could be another curve to pay attention to later this year. And that will be in the form of increased maternity ward activity just about 9 months after your local SIP order was issued. Time to find the waffle maker and get busy in the kitchen. Somebody put the kettle on.

Kindest Regards,

Dena & Ernie

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