"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.