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 – 2021 Amalie Robert Estate, LLC

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Sub-AVA and Portfolio Update: Vinous Edition 2020

Hello and Welcome, 

This is an Amalie Robert Estate Sub-AVA and Portfolio Update: Vinous Edition 2020. A FLOG communication from Dena and Ernie @AmalieRobert. Oregon Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. 

As many avid readers of the FLOG (Farming bLOG) know, there is a sub Willamette Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA) petition for our area in process with the Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). This is the second petition from our area.

The first petition with the name Mt. Pisgah Mistletoe Ridge was unanimously approved by the petitioners’ group in 2016, however it was summarily rejected by the TTB in 2017. In Monty Python parlance it “…caught fire, fell over and then sank into the swamp.”

Welcome to our idiom. The original petition was rejected due to the name submitted. The TTB requires the proposed name of the bounded area to be currently in use to avoid confusion. The name chosen was not currently in use. However, we did consider petitioning the county to change the name of a road to match the proposed bounded area.


As you might imagine, coming up with a commercially viable name is quite important from a marketing point of view. And it should fit on a label in a font your customers can read. While everyone agreed on the original name, that was not the case on the second name.
As part of the TTB rejection process, the TTB had suggested a name that they would accept. That name was Mt. Pisgah, Polk County, Oregon. Polk County is included because there is a Mt. Pisgah in Lane County Oregon. And Oregon is included because there is a Mt. Pisgah reference in Polk County Florida. Therefore, Mt. Pisgah, Polk County, Oregon to avoid confusion.

The entire Willamette Valley AVA is 3,438,000 acres. The smallest Willamette Valley sub-AVA is Ribbon Ridge at about 3,500 acres. The remaining Willamette Valley sub-AVA’s are:

Chehalem Mountains sub-AVA is about 62,000 acres.
Dundee Hills sub-AVA is about 12,600 acres.
Both the Eola-Amity Hills and McMinville sub-AVA’s are about 39,000 acres.
Van Duzer Corridor sub-AVA is about 60,000 acres.
Yamhill-Carlton District sub-AVA is about 57,000 acres.
For the second petition, the bounded area was nearly doubled from its original size of 4,100 acres. Again, not everyone agreed with that action. The original bounded area from the first petition is depicted below. We will refer to this original bounded area as Mt. Pisgah Prime. Follow the red line to trace the boundary and the blue lines to trace the vineyards.
Due north of Amalie Robert Estate by about 1.25 miles is Mt. Pisgah, Polk County, Oregon standing proud at 835 feet above sea level. Our highest elevation in the vineyard is 654 feet above sea level.
The petition is working its way through the bowels of the TTB. As more information becomes available, we will pass that along. Meanwhile, let’s have a look at some of the wines that come from this 4,100 acre Mt. Pisgah Prime. And not just Amalie Robert wines. This is kind of a “pre-coming out” look-and-see.
Portfolio Update: Vinous Edition 2020
Let’s just get right into this. All reviews are by Josh Raynolds of Vinous Media from May, August and September 2020. There are all manner of wine reviewers out there, and then there is Vinous Media.
“Bob, I think I got here too late. You have your cherry orchard on top of my vineyard!"
We started with a Montmorency cherry orchard in 1999. We planted our first 10 acres of vines at the turn of the century and have kept at it to get where we are today – 35 acres of producing vines and an Estate winery. We grow, ferment, blend and bottle only Estate Grown wine including Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Viognier. And pre-commercial amounts of Gewürztraminer.

Please note that the wines identified here were grown in our vineyard and our neighbor’s vineyard where the shared property line to our east separates the vines. The Willamette Valley sub-AVA petition for our area (Mt. Pisgah, Polk County, Oregon which includes our neighbor), is winding its way through the process. As this image of Ernie standing in front of our Bellpine soil reveals, we have some pretty good dirt to work with.
And it doesn’t seem to matter that much on the clones. Coury, Pommard or Wadenswil can all do well on our sedimentary Bellpine soils. Dena favors the Pommard clone, and Ernie is a Wadenswil man. The jury is still out on Dick Erath’s clone 95, but we will have some of that fermenting up this fall. Who knows, maybe yet another 95 for clone 95 is in the works.
Let’s move right along to the cool climate Syrah program. They say luck favors the prepared mind. At Microsoft it was said, it is better to be lucky than good. A little trip to the Northern Rhône produced a very fortuitous meeting with Marcel Guigal. Somewhere in all those tea leaves the Syrah program took form.
“Syrah has emerged as a serious, if obscure, wild card in Oregon, and while there are still just a few examples being produced, some of them are among the best the New World has to offer. Gargantua, a new-ish project from Josh Bergstrom, of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir (and Chardonnay) fame, is producing a truly stunning Syrah, as are Amalie Robert, Cristom and Penner-Ash. Then there’s the Rogue Valley, which, as I noted above, is solidifying itself as an attention-worthy source for Syrah, especially at Cowhorn.”  - Oregon Outside the Pinot Noir Box. By Josh Raynolds | September 03, 2020
The basis of our cool climate Syrah is 4 clones of Syrah that Marcel Guigal had identified to Ernie and a slight mix-up at the grafting bench that introduced Viognier into the mix. Dionysus, the Greek god of all things vinous, must have lent some divine intervention. The net result: Côte Rôtie from Oregon. It is with a great debt of gratitude that we check in on the Guigal single vineyard wines of Côte Rôtie.
When it comes to Oregon Chardonnay, we are not alone in Mt. Pisgah Prime. Check out the map to find Open Claim Vineyards. The Heirloom Cameo is our BFC. That’s Barrel Fermented Chardonnay for everyone not hip to the cellar lingo. We use a 500 liter puncheon to ferment and mature the Heirloom Cameo for 14 months. A nifty little trick that we lifted off the Burgundians for imparting just the right amount of new oak, while keeping the wine’s focus on the palate texture and elegant but persistent finish.
Pinot Meunier: The “Champagne Deconstructed” option. While it is true that Dena has a soft spot for Champagne, we have yet to pull the trigger on a secondary fermentation. Oh sure, we have made the base wine from Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir and we label that as the Bellpine Pearl. As a platinum hued white wine, it is our pearl from the soil – without the gas.
“Pinot Meunier, a cousin of Pinot Noir, is a no-brainer when it comes to potential in the Willamette Valley, and the examples being made by Eyrie and Amalie Robert speak to the great possibilities that exist here. But given market realities, I’m not holding my breath that many growers will soon turn much of their attention to this variety at the expense of Pinot Noir.” - Oregon Outside the Pinot Noir Box. By Josh Raynolds | September 03, 2020
The Pinot Meunier stands alone. One of the most outgoing of the Pinot family of wines and pairs with oh-so-many culinary inclinations. One of the first to grow Pinot Meunier in the Willamette Valley was David Lett. His wine style of this variety always struck us as elegant and perfumed and we were drawn to this style of letting Meunier be Meunier. In other words, don’t muck it up!
As is de rigueur for these pages, we end with the numbers and a handy scorecard for future reference. For those more graphically oriented, you can check out all of our bottlings and past vintages on the Scorecard.

Club 95. This is the first year we have gained admittance to this exclusive collection of wines. We have three entries from two vintages.
2016 Pommard Clone Pinot Noir
2016 Wadenswil Pinot Noir
2014 The Reserve Pinot Noir
With a score of 94, we have been here before. Note the Top Barrel Syrah remains the highest rated Estate grown Willamette Valley Syrah. Our first 94 point Top Barrel Syrah was from the 2012 vintage.
2015 Amalie’s Cuvée Pinot Noir
2015 Estate Selection Pinot Noir
2014 Top Barrel Syrah
Following closely along in third position is the field of 93’s. Here we see the variety of wines our sedimentary Bellpine soil is able to produce. Maybe that 5C rootstock is all it’s cracked up to be…
2015 Heirloom Cameo Chardonnay (BFC)
2015 Dijon Clones Pinot Noir
2015 Satisfaction Syrah
2014 Satisfaction Syrah
Here come the sweepers holding a quite respectable position 92.
2016 Pinot Meunier
2015 The Uncarved Block Pinot Noir
Kindest Regards,
Dena & Ernie

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