Amalie Robert 2015 Viognier Late Harvest Our Muse: (375 ml.) Pale yellow-gold. Deep-pitched yellow apple pear nectar honey and nougat aromas lent vivacity by a gingery nuance. Smooth supple and appealingly sweet orchard and pit fruit flavors take a drier turn on the back half picking up a hint of green almond. Lush and weighty but surprisingly firm finishing long and subtly spicy with a lingering hint of orange pith. January 2017 – 91 points
Pretty cool (climate), right?
Dijon Clone 777 Pinot Noir – at 21 degrees Fahrenheit
First out of the gate was team Vinous publishing the feature article “Oregon: Beyond Pinot Noir” written by their lead dog for Oregon, Josh Raynolds. Josh goes in depth, as he is known to do, in Oregon’s “Alter Ego” wines including, but not limited to, Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and of course Syrah. This is significant for the Willamette Valley, as it is the first time an esteemed and well respected publication has paid serious tribute to not only Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier, but also our cool climate, Côte Rôtie themed Syrah. Here is a little excerpt regarding Oregon cool climate Syrah and Viognier:
[Syrah] “I have become increasingly enthused by Oregon’s performance with Syrah, especially because so many of the wines are being made with a strong nod to the northern Rhône. Whole-cluster fermentations are mostly the rule here, and many of these wines show the cool, spicy, floral character that distinguishes some of the Rhône Valley’s best examples of the variety, especially those from Côte-Rôtie. As I mentioned earlier, the Rogue Valley is producing most of the best examples of Syrah, and a number of the Willamette Valley’s best Pinot Noir producers have been buying fruit from the Rogue Valley in recent years as they expand their own winemaking repertoire, often with noteworthy success.”
David’s exposé covers three Willamette Valley producers of cool climate Syrah including Amalie Robert Estate. Ernie even got his picture in the article holding two clusters of Syrah, one black and one white.
David discovered our cool climate Syrah with the exceedingly cool 2010 vintage while he was writing for a publication not to be named. He was intrigued - to say the least.
[Viognier] “As the number of Oregon Viognier bottlings has increased (even though plantings actually dropped from 257 acres in 2014 to 241 in 2015), so too has the overall quality of the wines. In the past, too many bottlings were dull and tired, with early drinking mandatory. Many others were the polar opposites of these flat wines, showing shrill, high-acid character due to underripe or overcropped fruit, while still others were subjected to brutal oak treatment that masked varietal aromatic character, which is what Viognier is really all about.”
Not to be scooped by an online publication, the February issue of Wine & Spirits Magazine published "Syrah Follies" by David Schildknecht:
“Back in 1995, when Markus Goodfellow started buying syrah from a Yamhill vineyard, he dubbed the resulting wine “Fool’s Errand.” That pretty much summed up the prevailing feeling about the variety in Oregon’s cool climate. And yet, today, the state is turning out some of the most exciting examples in the US.”
While January was a cold month in the Willamette Valley, the wine press was turning up the heat.
Amalie Robert 2010 Satisfaction Syrah: Even with a November harvest – which seems to be de rigeur for these vines, given that even the 2009 was picked in that month – the Amalie Robert 2010 Syrah Satisfaction barely reached 12% alcohol. (And that’s even with some – accidentally – inter-planted Viognier, for more about which and about this project generally, consult my Issue 202 review of the 2009.) That sounds like a recipe for ripeness-deficient trouble, but instead was one for a Syrah unlike any other I can recall, and whose ilk I have only remotely approached from Schneider Vineyards on Long Island or in Saint Joseph and Côte Rôtie of three decades ago. Smoky Latakia tobacco and peat; burley tobacco and beef blood; plum and cherry; grapefruit rind and bittersweet floral perfume combine for a
Amalie Robert 2012 Satisfaction Syrah: Vivid ruby. Heady spice- and mineral-accented raspberry and cherry scents show excellent clarity and pick up subtle woodsmoke and cola nuances as the wine opens up. Alluringly sweet and precise on the palate offering intense red fruit liqueur blood orange spicecake and violet pastille flavors that show a suave blend of richness of vivacity and no rough edges that I can detect. Finishes very long sappy and smooth with fine-grained tannins lending gentle grip. January 2017 – 92 points
Amalie Robert Estate Latest News - Cool Climate Syrah Update
brightly juicy, if lean; dazzlingly diverse and interactive show. The tannins here are perfectly placed to invigorate without engendering roughness, and the combination of salinity and marrowy depth captivates the salivary glands in a sustained finish. But bear in mind my initial comment: this is certainly unlike any contemporary Syrah, and those drawn to it will probably think my score miserly while others will think I got carried away. How this will evolve in bottle can only be guessed at, but I would certainly encourage anybody lucky enough to make its acquaintance to follow at least a couple of bottles through at least 2018. - David Schildknecht, TWA, October 2013 – 92 points
Cool climate Syrah from the Willamette Valley – Maybe it’s really a thing?