The Vintage: Playing chicken with Mother Nature. Vintage 2016 was another barn burner for the record books, but with a twist. The continuing pattern of warm night time temperatures established way back from 2012 was in full effect.  But this year the water spigot did not get fully turned off during the summer and we recorded measurable precipitation every month during the growing season.

We bore witness to the blogosphere reporting the Willamette Valley once again had pre-mature fermentation with one of the earliest harvests on record. And once again, Ernie would not get out the harvest bins until we saw a little mid-September rainfall. Note: Playing chicken with Mother Nature is not for the weak kneed or timid.

And pretty much right on par with 2015, our first significant rainfall occurred overnight on the 16th of September with 0.36 inches being recorded. We could not believe it. The soils were as dry as the day before, but the rain gauge does not lie. The wine berries were drawing up that soil moisture and continuing to develop aroma and flavor, just as if we had planned it that way, which, in fact, we had.

The 2016 harvest began in earnest at Amalie Robert Estate on September 23. It was a young block of Wadenswil grafted onto 44-53 rootstock at the highest elevation of the property that began the show. And then the mystery of the vintage began to unfold. The 28th of September recorded 0.86 inches of rainfall followed the next day by 0.27 inches. The first couple days of October brought another 0.93 inches. That’s over 2 inches of rain in a week! Now, we are getting somewhere, but only if you were able to hold out for the rains.

Is ripeness sugar accumulation or aroma and flavor development with moderate tannins? When and why do you harvest and who gets to make that decision? This is where the motivation behind contract vineyards and estate grown vines becomes apparent. Some blink, some don’t.

And that is when we got with the program. With each passing day of harvest, the sugar concentrations were dropping and the aromas and flavors were coming on strong. And since we leave leaves to shade our Pinot Noir, the aromas and flavors were elegant and perfumed.

The temperatures also began to cool considerably in September. The vintage accumulated 2,177 degree days, but only 300 of those were in September and the last 40 came in by mid-October. The heat came on just like voting - early and often. And then it was over. Vintages have consequences…

You can read the full Harvest After Action Report (AAR) on our FLOG (Farming bLOG):

Tasting Notes: Waxen honeycomb adorns while pungent aromas of quince paste, kumquat zest and Casablanca lily entertain. Inspiring on the palate with a generous mouth feel and intense varietal character, tingling acidity saves the day with a teasing finish. Succulent but not sweet, here’s a wine you would like to meet!

Culinary Inclinations: Smoked black cod salad of butter lettuce, Belgian endive, radicchio and fennel frond topped with finely chopped Marcona almonds and crumbled Shropshire cheese drizzled with lavender infused olive oil and white balsamic vinegar.

Our Muse Viognier Accolades:

2016 Our Muse

(all stainless steel) Pale green-tinged yellow. Bright and precise on the nose, displaying fresh white peach, tangerine and pungent floral qualities along with delicate honey and white pepper flourishes. Juicy, focused on light on its feet, offering juicy orchard and pit fruit flavors that are given tangy cut by an orange zest nuance. Finishes silky and long, featuring lingering florality and a hint of candied citrus fruits.

          - Josh Raynolds, Vinous, February 2018 – 91 points

          - Wine Enthusiast, April 2018 – 93 points, Editors' Choice

2015 Our Muse

The fruit for this wine was left to hang through the warm and dry month of October to create a Beerenauslese style late harvest wine. The desiccated and slightly botrytis infected berries were whole cluster pressed. The resulting nectar was settled overnight and fermented in stainless steel. Due to the concentration of sugars, the fermentation was arrested at about 15% alcohol leaving a trace of residual sugar. The wine is bottled in 375 ml bottles and finished with a traditional gold capsule.

Voluminously tropical aromas of star fruit, orchid, white peach, and hibiscus accented with anise permeate. The unctuous and viscous texture embraces the palate with rich and unrelenting island fruit flavors and exotic spices supported by cleansing acidity.

          - Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes

(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.

          - Josh Raynolds, Vinous, January 2017 – 91 points

2014 Our Muse

Platinum blond highlights supple honeysuckle and white peach aromas accented with a zest of lime. Enchanting and mesmerizing aromas lead to an envelopingly rich and persistent palate experience that enlivens with supporting acidity.

          - Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes

There's never more than a barrel of this outstanding wine to go around, but it's well worth hunting down. Powerful and lush, it's got a silky, voluptuously fruity mouthfeel. Candied citrus and apple pie come to mind, as the flavors continue rushing through, finishing with a spicy lift and a whiff of menthol.

        - Paul Gregutt, Wine Enthusiast, August 2016 – 91 points

2013 Our Muse

A quick swirl radiates platinum blond and some very long legs. White lily, Meyer Lemon, quince paste and grated nutmeg start the show. An ample, yet texturally elegant and easygoing mid-palate exposes the culmination of a schizophrenic growing season, our sedimentary soils and a pure expression of Viognier. The transition from hedonistic fruit and texture to lingering acidity is seamless.

Fermented in a 15 gallon “tank,” the 2013 Our Muse Viognier production is 61 bottles and in fact may be the rarest wine in the world.

          - Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes

2012 Our Muse

Gold leaf filigree adorns the glass. White peach marmalade, quince paste, honeysuckle, Easter Lilly and tangelo zest provide a dizzying array of aromas to organize and are indicative of our North Willamette Valley sedimentary soils. A scintillating and voluptuous mouth feel is commensurate with the aromas that remain swirling in your mind, each struggling for control. The richly textured palate experience is tempered with Asian pear revealing exquisitely integrated acidity and an enduring finish. This is clearly the finest Viognier to be offered from Amalie Robert Estate. 13 case production.

          - Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes

Minute quantities of these rare Viogniers are produced, which is a shame, because they are distinctive and enlightening. Deep gold and intensely aromatic with brilliant floral notes, this is a beautifully balanced wine, with the acidity and skin flavors to put a crisp frame around the ripe peach and apricot fruit.

          - Paul Gregutt, Wine Enthusiast, June 2015 – 93 points

2011 Our Muse

Liquid platinum coats the glass. White nectarine, calla lily, kumquat zest and Russian tarragon express the scintillating aromatics of a cool growing season. Voluptuous and expansive on the pallet with lively impressions of tangerine, Myer lemon and tart cherry pulp puree. The lingering finish is punctuated with fennel frond and cleansing acidity. 34 cases produced.

          - Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes

Not picked until mid-November, the Amalie Robert 2011 Viognier Our Muse delivers a heady, at once musky and sweetly perfumed nose of acacia, lily and narcissus, along with intimations of honeydew melon and apple that then share billing with inner-mouth floral perfume on a silken and (at just 12.4% alcohol no wonder!) buoyant palate. A lovely streak of salinity lends saliva-inducement but I confess that I was getting so excited about this wine that the totality its finish very slightly disappointed. Still, this Viognier in a delightfully distinctive key should offer versatile delight over the coming 12 - 18 months, and quite possibly beyond.

          - David Schildknecht, The Wine Advocate, October 2013 – 90 points

2010 Our Muse

Golden Brioche in the glass leads to delicate scents of Calla Lilly, apricots and white nectarine. The viscous mid-palate sensation provides richness to tame the sweet and tangy fruit. The rich palate gently transitions to a lingering sensation of clean minerality.

          - Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes

The Wine Advocate, Not picked until November 7 but still at only 13.3% alcohol, the Amalie Robert 2010 Viognier Our Muse – from a small parcel on the warmest part of their hillside – delivers a metaphorically cooling nose and subtly oily yet buoyant palate featuring honeydew melon, apricot, mint, acacia, and white pepper. Nut undertones, piquancy of apricot kernel, and pronounced salinity push the finish here into mouthwatering and invigorating prolongation and left me licking my lips in anticipation of the next sip. This distinctively delicious offering ought to prove highly versatile over at least the next 12-18 months, though I’d be very interested to learn whether it evolves positively thereafter.

          - David Schildknecht, The Wine Advocate, August 2012 – 90 points

2009 Our Muse

Platinum in the glass tattletales the sun ripened skins and fully developed aromatics that await. White flowers and honeysuckle are alluring and beckoning. The palate is unctuous, saturating and unrelenting with tropical jack fruit, mango and guava, and at he same time steeled with minerality. The transition to the lingering finish is seamless and evokes a longing to make another memory. 22 cases produced.

          - Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes

2008 Our Muse

The bouquet opens with intense honeysuckle, passion fruit, yellow citrus and fresh ginger. The wine is rich and coating on the palate with a mélange of tropical fruits and spice. The finish is laser focused and unyielding, providing balanced acidity and due heft. 17 cases produced.

          - Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes

2007 Our Muse

Brilliant straw in the glass introduces the delicate aromas of lemon grass, melon, and a hint of freshly grated ginger. The palate is bursting with ripe white nectarines, crisp tropical fruits and a rich unctuous mouth feel, finishing with balanced acidity.

          - Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes

Our Muse is estate grown Viognier. This variety is at first lush and playful. Richness on the palate leads to a sense of enchantment. Lest you be confused, Our Muse is at the same time stiff in the spine and not to be taken whimsically.

Viognier is the traditional white wine from Condrieu in the Northern Rhône Valley of France. This variety develops beautiful and delicate aromatics with a rich unctuous mouth feel when grown in Oregon’s cool Willamette Valley. Among our 35 acres of vineyard, we have planted just 0.41 acres (594 vines to be exact) of Viognier.

The wine was fermented at cool temperatures in a very small stainless steel tank to retain its delicate aromatics. Viognier is a wine that favors enjoyment upon release, much like your inner child. 

Our Muse Viognier