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Château de Brézé has a long and storied history, first being mentioned in texts in 1068, lauded by King René of Anjou in the 15th century and served at all the royal courts. In 1957, when the AOC of Saumur Champigny was established, the owner of Château de Brézé refused to be part of the appellation, saying that his estate's vineyards were the best and deserved an appellation all their own. And he was probably right. Unfortunately, the wines from those exceptional vineyards were terrible. Lucky for us, the winery sold in 2009 to Le Comte de Colbert, who recruited Arnaud Lambert from nearby Domaine de Saint Just to make the wine. He changed the vineyards over to organic farming and began producing truly stellar wines worthy of their source. The 2012 Château de Brézé Clos David is all estate-grown Chenin Blanc raised in stainless steel to preserve freshness. It has the slightly-oxidized note of a great White Burgundy and a lovely richness that allows it to pair with a variety of foods.

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Thursday
Mar182010

Winery to Watch: Amalie Robert

"Luck is when an opportunity meets a prepared mind."

This is the guiding principle of Ernie Pink and Dena Drews. It’s what led them to buy a cherry orchard 15 miles south of Salem, Oregon in the Willamette Valley, convert it to a vineyard and start making wine. It’s what led our domestic buyer Bryan Brick—on a never-ending quest to fine great Pinot—to find them, and we’re sure it’s part of what will get you to take a chance on their wine.

Still, it wasn’t all luck for the Amalie Robert estate. It took passion, diligence and an attention to detail to get started. Like a lot of people in the domestic wine business, Ernie and Dena weren’t raised in the wine life; they were Pacific Northwest computer nerds first. Trading in keyboards and operating systems for shovels and dirt, they planted grapes: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay and Viognier to silty Bellpine soils. Their first harvest was in 2002. They sold their dry-farmed fruit to a who’s who of Oregon wineries—Elk Cove, Erath, Cristom and Beaux Frères—and made a little wine on the side, always true to the soil and expressions of the vintage, but never enough to make a dent in the marketplace. In 2006, the couple completed construction of a winery as well as their first estate crush, the results of which have just arrived at K&L.

The Amalie Robert wines are only available in a handful of states and have only recently become available here in California. We’re thrilled to be among the first retailers to discover them. These Pinots are elegant, feminine and built to last, whisking the Pinot-lovers on our staff away to their happy place. The 2006 Amalie Robert “Amalie’s Cuvée” Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($54.99) has a sexy sous bois/musk note to complement the lighter, more ethereal strawberry chiffon, cotton candy and talc aromas that comprise its bouquet. It the mouth it is bright and lovely, with pretty, resonating acidity on the attack. Tart cherry, raspberry and red currant fruit fill the palate like Red Riding Hood’s basket with a lingering finish redolent of lavender and wisteria. This is a very special wine showing much more balance than typical for the vintage.

The 2006 Amalie Robert “Dijon Clones” Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($42.99) is dominated by clone 777, with smaller proportions of 667, 114, 113 and 115, and each selection adds something to the blend. Spicier on the nose than the Amalie’s Cuvée, the Dijon Clones wakes your senses with prickly notes of clove and nutmeg. There’s a nice tension as the wine opens up between the spice and pure red cherry fruit and an alluring fried mushroom umami quality. The wine expresses the vintage by being very ripe, but does it well with spot on flavors and nice drive. It is tangy and fresh with plum, cassis and currant fruit on the pretty, refined finish.

 

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