Oregon Wine Club – May 2013

2007 Amalie Robert, Amalie’s Cuvée Pinot Noir
When we put Amalie Robert’s 2006 Dijon Clones Pinot in the club back in December 2009, we wrote about how the winery (pronounced AIM-a-lee Robert, with a “t”) planted their first vines on Earth Day, 2000, in former cherry orchards about fifteen miles southwest of Salem, in the central Willamette Valley. The winery was the realization of a dream of Ernie (Robert) Pink and Dena (Amalie) Drews, formerly denizens of the high tech corporate world. Committed to responsible farming practices from the beginning, their estate is completely dry-farmed and, as they point out, “Ernie manages the vineyard, but Mother Nature handles the irrigation program.” Their meticulously-grown fruit was soon in demand by other, more established winemakers in the area. But Ernie and Dena’s own estate-grown wines are now taking center stage. In fact, Wine and Spirits magazine named them as one of their Top 100 wineries in 2011. The two winemakers collaborate on most of their wines, but they also produce “His” and “Hers” reserve wines. Amalie’s Cuvée is Dena’s blend, in which she strives to showcase the elegant side of Pinot. A blend of Pommard and Wadenswill clones, Dena says her blend “has to show pretty fruit and balance.” We think she nailed it. This $55 Pinot has beautiful aromatics and lovely, soft fruit. It is on the lighter, delicate side, and would be perfect for salmon (of course), or game hen.

2011 Penner-Ash, Viognier
We’ve featured several Pinots from Penner-Ash over the years, but this is the first time we’ve included their Viognier. After working for four years as enologist at Napa’s Stag’s Leap Cellars, Lynn Penner-Ash made her way to Oregon in 1988 to take over as winemaker at Rex Hill. While still at that winery, she and her husband founded Penner-Ash in the Chehalem Valley in 1998, with a mission of producing limited quantities of carefully crafted Pinot Noir and Syrah. They have their own estate vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA planted to Pinot Noir, and they also source from some of the top vineyards in the Willamette Valley. For their Viognier, they look to the warmer south, in the Rogue River Valley AVA. Their original plan was to co-ferment the Viognier with Syrah for a northern Rhône-style red, but to their surprise, the 100% Viognier has become their most popular white wine. We are not surprised. It is fresh and vibrant, with lush aromatics, and a mineral-laced creaminess that keeps it nicely in balance. It is $31 and would be a perfect spring or summer sipper with scallops, cheeses, or Moroccan chicken.