Amalie Robert iPinot Pinot Noir 2009
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The Amalie Robert 2009 Pinot Noir iPinot Noir – of which there is also a Chardonnay counterpart – is so-named because the winery sold (or is selling) its 400 cases exclusively on-line. Juicy fresh cherry seems macerated with rose hip and tinged with cinnamon, black pepper, and smoked meat, as well as nicely integrated vanilla and caramelized resin from one-third new barrels. There is a hint of warmth to an otherwise delightfully sustained finish, and the tannins here are much more mannerly than in the corresponding “Reserve” bottling. Mark this down for enjoyment through at least 2017.
It was the spring of 1999 when Dena and Ernie happened upon Bob and his Montmorency cherry orchard. They had been studying soils and climate in the Willamette Valley and doing their level best to evaluate as many wines as they could. It didn’t take too long before Ernie said, “Bob, I got here too late. You have your cherry orchard sitting on top of my vineyard.”
They chose the Willamette Valley because it was the last best place on the planet to grow Pinot Noir. All of the other planets had one issue or another - soils, climate or the proximity to established markets were some of the most significant drawbacks. And so it began. April of 1999 is when they became cherry growers for just long enough to bring in the harvest. From there on out, their singular focus was to develop the 60 acre property into a world class vineyard and traditional winemaking operation that they would own and operate themselves.
The benefit of starting with a cherry orchard is that they did not buy someone else’s vineyard and deeply rooted mistakes. They had the opportunity to make their own mistakes - and learn from them. From those humble beginnings they decided on their own rootstocks, vineyard spacing, trellis design, varieties of wines to grow and specific clones. They learned how to farm wine to showcase the inherent qualities of their vineyard. They had help from some great and patient mentors including Bruce Weber, Dick Erath, Mike Etzel, Steve Doerner, and many, many others.
When it came time to design the winery, they only wanted to build one, so they found the best architect with the most experience in the Willamette Valley and that was Ernie Munch. Aside from the aesthetics and site placement, the guiding principle was gravity flow. Their crown jewel is the 1,200 tons of below grade concrete that maintains their naturally climate conditioned barrel cellar and the 500 or so barrels entrusted to mature their wines.
In their second careers, the guiding principle is stewardship – they are winegrowers. They tend 52,000 vines and use only estate-grown fruit for Amalie Robert Estate wines. They believe in sustainable viticulture practices that preserve the inherent qualities of their vineyard site. They plant cover crops to reduce soil erosion and feed the soil. The soil feeds their vines. They strive to do right by the land. They use a single criterion in their decision making: “Will this action respect the character of the site and improve the wine?” They are stewards of the land, and Mother Nature provides the irrigation program. Efforts in the field are rewarded with Pinot noir that is “True to the soil and true to the vintage.”
And what about the name? Amalie Robert is a combination of Dena's middle name, “Amalie” (pronounced AIM-a-lee) and Ernie's, “Robert.” They are the team.
Home of some of the planet’s most amazingly elegant and expressive Pinot noir, the Willamette Valley is a pastoral, mixed landscape of green, bucolic rolling hills, dramatic forestlands and small, independent, friendly wine growers. As a leader in environmental stewardship, the valley has some of the nation’s most protective land use policies, with two-thirds of its vineyards farmed sustainably and over half, organically. While the valley claims a cool, continental climate, and is heavily influenced by the cold, moist winds of the Pacific Ocean, its warm and dry summers allow for the steady, even ripening of Pinot noir.
The potential of Willamette Valley Pinot noir continues to attract the investment of serious growers and winemakers both locally and from abroad, as naturally the finished wines bring accolades from professionals and enthusiasts. With a range of styles from delicate dried cherry, raspberry and hibiscus to stronger notes of truffle, mocha, plum and spice, a fine Willamette Valley Pinot noir is a perfect expression of both character and grace.