We taste all of our barrels of wine many times throughout the year. We experience the evolution of flavors and aromas and remember the significant events in our vineyard. The excitement of an early bloom, the mystery of a very light fruit set, the discovery of color change at veraison and the rapture of harvest. Tasting each barrel of wine provides us a snapshot in time. We experience the wine’s development. 

Again this year, we selected the barrels of wine that offered supple elegance and presence. After repeated trials, a very special and familiar blend began to emerge. From year to year, we strive to reveal the elegance and grace of Oregon Pinot Noir. Amalie’s Cuvée is this blend.​

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: Untethered flowing coronation robe red. Prolonged and arousing aromas of red quince, rose hip jelly and wild red cherries dusted with cardamom, baking spice and Chinese Five Spice lack restraint. An intentioned and consensual menuetto provides desire and discipline right up until the crescendo drenches the palate with unbridled acidity and a depth of finely attuned stem tannins that only ever-so-slowly recede. Wanna go again? Uncensored, Unfined and Unfiltered.

Culinary Inclinations: Medium rare roasted white Pekin duck breast and confit of duck thigh lollipop with pheasant mousse piped morel mushrooms alongside and hot paprika spiced creamy polenta and braised almond, garlic broccolini. Molten red raspberry flourless chocolate lava cake will not be denied.

Amalie’s Cuvée Pinot Noir Accolades:

2015 Amalie’s Cuvée

Redolent Red. Cinnamon, Five Spice, fresh strawberry puree and quince paste awaken the senses to a seemingly endless and evolving bouquet. Poise and presence captivate the palate in a “Sophia Loren meets Jayne Mansfield” sort of way. Discipline and structure in the form of refined stem tannins halter the indelible expression of vintage and variety. Unfined and unfiltered.

          - Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes

2014 Amalie’s Cuvée

Amalie’s Cuvée showcases the elegance and finesse of our vineyard. Dena looks for barrels that offer complexity and intriguing nuances with layers of fruit and texture. This wine’s allure is in its seductive enchantment. “The Cuvée.”

Amalie Robert red. Enchanting and seductive vacillate as scents of crimson rose, dark cherry, spice and cocoa emerge. A well endowed mid palate presence provides ample fruit and spice while being well supported by graceful tannins and tantalizing acidity. Unfined and unfiltered.

          - Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes

​Shimmering red. Ripe red fruits, star anise, potpourri and a hint of smokiness on the highly fragrant nose. Offers energetic raspberry and redcurrant flavors that are braced by a spine of tangy acidity and a hint of refreshingly bitter blood orange. Sappy, penetrating and sharply delineated, with an echo of peppery spices enlivening the impressively long, gently tannic, red berry-accented finish. (all neutral French oak)

          - Josh Raynolds, Vinous, June 2019 - 93 points

2013 Amalie’s Cuvée

Amalie’s Cuvée showcases the elegance and finesse of our vineyard. Dena looks for barrels that offer complexity and intriguing nuances with layers of fruit and texture. This wine’s allure is in its seductive enchantment. “The Cuvée”

Amalie Robert red. Dark cherry, incense and sweet preserves ingratiated with sandalwood are supported by an immovable core of unadulterated and pure red fruit vibrancy. Elegant and proper on the palate, the background stem tannins begin to assert providing you with a little sass from the glass. Now be-have yourself! Unfined and unfiltered.

          - Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes

Vibrant red. Sharply focused, mineral- and spice-accented aromas of fresh red berries, candied rose and allspice pick up incense and mocha nuances with air. Sappy strawberry, bitter cherry and floral pastille flavors show excellent clarity and energetic lift, along with a suave hint of spicecake. Finishes subtly tannic and quite long, featuring building sweetness and emphatic floral persistence.

          - Josh Raynolds, Vinous, January 2018 - 92 points

2012 Amalie’s Cuvée

Amalie Robert red. The pervasive and permeating aromas of purple lilac, freshly crushed ripe red raspberries, cherry cobbler and sandalwood spice crescendo in a kaleidoscope of inherent beauty. Sweet and rich, yet tart and delineated, red fruits chase blue fruits; the palate is awash in pleasure while the feminine matrix of acidity and tannin linger at the edge of your perception. The enduring and repeating pleasure of the finish is the hallmark of “The Cuvée.” Unfined and unfiltered.

          - Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes

Brilliant red. A complex, seductively perfumed bouquet evokes ripe black raspberry, cherry cola, Asian spices and smoky minerals. Juicy and precise, showing strong lift and cut to the sweet red and dark berry and lavender pastille flavors. The spice and mineral notes add bite to a very long, floral-tinged finish that's shaped and given grip by silky, harmonious tannins. This is a pretty graceful rendition of the vintage, which is populated mostly by deeper, brawnier Pinots.

          - Josh Raynolds, Vinous, December 2016 - 92 points

This wine is a barrel selection by Dena that is meant to be approachable upon release. Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The aromas of cherry, rose petal and spice are so enthralling, I was in no hurry to taste the wine. Very seductive, with a core of fresh black cherry, black raspberry and blueberry fruit flavors that saturate the mid palate and return in waves on the extraordinarily long finish. The wine is beautifully crafted with a supportive tannic spine and balancing acidity, but it is the finish that separates this wine from the pack

          - William "Rusty" Gaffney, M.D., PinotFile, September 2016 - 94 points

          - The Wine Advocate, July 2016 - 90 points

          - Wine Enthusiast, August 2017 - 90 points

2011 Amalie’s Cuvée

​Riverside red introduces a sultry and savory bouquet of cocoa dusted almonds, ginger, carmelized brown sugar and freshly crushed black raspberries. A lively palate expression reveals rich red fruits supported by stem tannins that provide presence without the burden of over extraction. The curtains do in fact match the carpet. The transition to the teasing finish is conveyed through a gentle squeeze from the velvet glove of acidity. Unfined and unfiltered.

          - Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes

Limpid red. Fresh red currant and strawberry aromas are complemented by suggestions of Asian spices, fresh rose and smoky minerals on the exotically perfumed nose. Lively and pure on the palate, offering bitter cherry and red berry flavors that spread out slowly on the back half. Made in a graceful, fat-free style, showing excellent focus on the long, gently tannic finish.

          - Josh Raynolds, Vinous, October 2015 - 92 points

Taking the best from each individual clonal selection, this blend shows both muscle and finesse. The chunky core of cherry fruit is fringed with orange peel, lifted with crisp acidity, and finished with a light touch of cinnamon. It’s drinking well, and can best be enjoyed through 2020.

          - Wine Enthusiast, June 2015 – 91 points

2010 Amalie’s Cuvée

Ruby red exposes you to a cornucopia of exotic aromas orbiting around cinnamon, clove, coriander, and baking spices with an overlay of red raspberry preserves. The palate experience is lithe and elegant revealing red currant, tart cherry, and sundrenched blackberries wrapped in an earthy core of baking cocoa. The refined stem tannin provides the structure where the invigorating acidity teases the enduring finish. Unfined and unfiltered.

          - Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes

Bright ruby-red. A complex, expressive bouquet evokes fresh red berries, Asian spices and potpourri, with a hint of smoky minerals emerging with aeration. Offers juicy, incisive black raspberry and bitter cherry flavors that stretch out and deepen with air while picking up a suave rose pastille nuance. Shows excellent clarity and drive on the persistent finish, which is firmed by dusty, harmonious tannins and a jolt of blood orange.

          - Josh Raynolds, Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, July/Aug 2012 – 93 points

Amalie’s Cuvée is a blend of some of the winery’s best lots, and it’s clear that they’ve melded well in this 2010. Light and fresh, it leads with brisk red cherry accents. Its flavors are more assertive but still carry a light tone, marked by a rosy, floral scent. It’s tea-like in its transparency as well as its tannic tension and firmness. An elegant wine for grilled arctic char.

          - Wine & Spirits Magazine, October 2014 – 92 points

2009 Amalie’s Cuvée

Luxurious red. Richly perfumed aromas of deep red cherry, cinnamon, baking chocolate and 5 spice beckon. Supple red fruits engage the palate and entice the senses with an evolving mélange of fruit, spice and refined stem tannins that tussle. The finish invigorates the senses and lingers like the memory of a first stolen kiss. Unfined and unfiltered.

          - Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes

Vivid red. Exotically perfumed bouquet of candied red fruits, Asian spices, potpourri and cola. Pliant, sweet and light on its feet, offering intense raspberry, cherry and rose pastille flavors along with notes of star anise and blood orange. Finishes silky and long, with resonating floral nuances and excellent focus.

          - Josh Raynolds, Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, July/Aug 2012 – 92 points

Representing as it does every vintage, an assemblage of owner Dena Drews’ 10-12 favorite barrels (in this case strongly favoring fruit from vines of Pommard Selection), the Amalie Robert 2009 Pinot Noir Amalie’s Cuvee delivers a strikingly complex nose of bittersweet floral perfume, toasted nuts, fresh red berries, and their spirituous essences along with those of myriad herbs. Silken texted and mouthwateringly salt-tinged, this finished with impressive length and a complexity more than fulfilling the promise made to the nose. I would look for at least a strong six year run.

          -Wine Advocate, August 2012 – 91 points

2008 Amalie’s Cuvée

Sultry red. The high toned aromas vacillate between freshly crushed ripe red raspberries and a newly opened tin of Darjeeling tea underscored by bittersweet baking chocolate. The palate provides a full frontal lobe experience witnessing the well endowed richness of the vintage in the corset like confines of tannin and acidity. The finish has length and presence without excess baggage, like the lingering memory of a first stolen kiss.

A seemingly higher IQ bottling of “The Cuvée”, it commands your attention and strives to enchant you with its charms. Unfined and unfiltered.

          - Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes

The 2008 Pinot Noir Amalie's Cuvee offers greater depth and concentration. A captivating nose of wood smoke, allspice, brown sugar, violets, and assorted black fruits leads to a plush, moderately structured wine that will benefit from another 1-2 years of cellaring. This pleasurable effort will be at its best from 2012 to 2020.

          - The Wine Advocate, October 2011 - 91 points

Earthy and savory, this has beguiling woodland scents along with rosehip tea and lemon peel. While the aromas are complex, the cherry jam and vanilla flavors feel broad. Cellar to serve with roast salmon.

          - Wine & Spirits Magazine, October 2011 - 91 points

Oregon Wine Awards, May 2011 – Double Gold

2007 Amalie’s Cuvée

Perfumed aromas of violets, crimson rose, sandalwood, cinnamon, tart cherry and freshly grated ginger enliven the palate. Lively and focused Maraschino cherry (with the stem) and raspberry cocoa are the initial layers of Pinot Noir fruit followed by rich cherry compote and a hint of underbrush. A persistent and evolving finish of integrated tannins, dried tea leaves and firm acidity allude to lithe bottle development.  Or, more simply put, “Pretty Fruit, Nice Acid ®.”  Unfined and unfiltered. 311 cases produced.

          - Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes

Limpid red. Suave, complex scents of fresh red berries, potpourri, incense and licorice. Palate-staining strawberry and raspberry flavors are lifted by notes of orange peel and white pepper, with a deeper cherry pit quality emerging on the back. Suave and accessible right now, finishing with very good cut and length.

          - Josh Raynolds, Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, July/Aug 2010 – 91 points

This vivid red has an ethereal perfume suggesting spice notes of bergamot, violets and black tea. The flavors of wild strawberry contrast savory olive and bay laurel scents, the finish as complex as it is attractive.

          - Wine & Spirits Magazine, February 2011 – 93 points, Year’s Best Pinot Noir article

Northwest Palate, Sept/Oct 2010 – Highly Recommended, Stellar Selection

Oregon Wine Awards, May 2010 – Double Gold

2006 Amalie’s Cuvée

​Ruby red in the glass leads to aromas of crushed wild raspberries, dried cherries and freshly tilled vineyard soil. On the palate candied Montmorency cherries overlay a sweet core of concentrated red currants laced with Five Spice. The finish is mouth coating tannins punctuated by vibrant acidity providing balance to the mid-palate richness.

Unfined and unfiltered. 255 cases produced. Pommard (45%), Wadenswil (28%) and Dijon Clones 113 & 667 (27%).

          - Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes

Vivid red. Intensely perfumed bouquet displays fresh raspberry, cherry, rose and magnolia scents, along with a suave, smoky mineral underpinning. The red fruit repeats in the mouth, picking up candied flowers and licorice with air. Impressively pure, with excellent finishing sweetness and persistence. As alluring as this wine is today, I'd give it another three or four years in the cellar.

          - Josh Raynolds, Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, May/June 2009 – 92 points

The 2006 Pinot Noir Amalie's Cuvee is a barrel selection aged for 12 months in French oak. Dark ruby-colored, it exhibits an aromatic array of cedar, black cherry, black raspberry, and violets. This is followed by a fleshy, ripe, balanced Pinot Noir that has enough structure to evolve for 1-2 years but can be enjoyed now.

          - Wine Advocate, October 2009 – 90 points

Executive Wine Seminars (Parker), March 2009 – 93 points

Oregon Wine Awards, May 2009 – Gold

Amalie's Cuvée Pinot Noir

Amalie’s Cuvée is an exclusive barrel selection of Pinot Noir representing the unique qualities of our vineyard. Every block within our 35 acre vineyard is individually hand harvested at its peak of flavor maturity and intensity. Block by block, the fruit is fermented by indigenous yeast in small 1.5 ton lots and matured for over 18 months in French oak barrels.

Every vineyard block and clone/rootstock combination showcases something unique and special from the vineyard. After fermentation is complete, the wine is placed into a selection of barrels to mature. We source French oak barrels from several coopers. The wine takes a different path to maturity in each barrel, developing its own nuances. Our use of whole clusters in each fermentation provides a continuously evolving tasting experience.