Estate Selection Pinot Noir

Estate Selection 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 in small 1.5 ton lots and matured for over 12 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.

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. 

It is usually during the spring when Pinot Noir in barrel begins to reveal the character of the vintage. Much like experiencing the lavender lilac bloom – you notice the color, then the hint of sweetness in the air and as time passes you are witness to the entire bloom – a testament to the season. This is when we begin blending trials for Estate.

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: Sumptuous red. Pungent black raspberry, Bing cherry, plum spice, and cinnamon bear witness to an expansive and pervasive midpalate expression of unknowable depth and breadth. Seemingly endless reprisals ebb and flow providing a thorough and relentless experience of vintage and intention. Ever evolving stem tannins punctuate and provide tenacity in their youth and refinement with the passage of time. PFNA - Pretty Fruit, Nice Acid ®. Unfined and Unfiltered.

Culinary Inclinations: Fire roasted double cut bone-in veal chop with wild mushroom risotto and sesame garlic sautéed snow peas. Fourme d'Ambert for the afters. And perhaps a hit of espresso…

Estate Selection Pinot Noir Accolades:

2015 Estate Selection

Transcending Red. Fully endowed and hugely aromatic bouquet of exotic spices segue into an expansive palate colonizing sortie. Wave after wave of undulating fruit, spice and tannin unite to a create a perfect storm. Whole cluster stem tannins and vibrant acidity provide balance and a satiating repose. Unfined and unfiltered.

          - Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes

2014 Estate Selection

Unruly red. Quaint aromas of spice cake, bright cherry, black raspberry and cocoa are visited upon by 5 spice and cinnamon. Firm on the palate with a strong core of fruit and good density buoyed by firm acidity and stem tannins hinting at the pleasures that await bottle maturation. Unfined and unfiltered.

          - Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes

Brilliant red. Highly expressive red berry, cherry and succulent herb aromas are complemented by building floral pastille, Asian spice and smoky mineral nuances. Spicy and penetrating on the palate, offering zesty bitter cherry and boysenberry flavors that deepen steadily and take a sweeter turn on the back half. Shows sharp delineation and mineral cut on the finish, which features interwoven tannins and resonating floral character. (raised in neutral French oak barrels)

          - Josh Raynolds, Vinous, June 2019 - 94 points

2013 Estate Selection

​Persuasive red. Deeply fragrant aromas of tilled earth, sweet wild raspberries, aged cigar box cedar, dried rosemary and pheromone provide a moment of pause. Energetic and fully engaging the palate with a wild streak of Wadenswil clone prompting the release of endorphins. Integrated stem tannins and balanced acidity sooth during the refractory period. Unfined and unfiltered.

          - Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes

Limpid red. A complex, highly perfumed bouquet evokes fresh red fruit, blood orange and floral pastilles, and a strong suggestion of exotic Moroccan spices builds with aeration. Shows very good depth of flavor but comes off lithe, offering zesty raspberry, bitter cherry and spicecake flavors that take a turn to darker fruits on the back half. A hint of vanilla sweetens a very long, silky, gently tannic finish that leaves five-spice powder and candied lavender notes behind.

          - Josh Raynolds, Vinous, January 2018 - 92 points

2012 Estate Selection

Roadster red (at speed) exhilarates Montmorency cherry, cardamom, semi-sweet chocolate and violet aromas. The shift to the palate is polished and precise leading with an expansive and intentioned mid-palate vibrancy that reverberates. Refined stem tannin with throttled acidity have your cognitive abilities racing at WFO. That is pretty much the point. Unfined and unfiltered.

          - Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes

Brilliant red. A hugely perfumed bouquet evokes fresh red berries, candied rose, allspice and blood orange, plus a zesty mineral quality that builds in the glass. Graceful and precise on the palate, offering spicy red fruit and floral pastille flavors that show zero fat and excellent balance. This weightless, sharply focused Pinot finishes with wonderful finishing energy and very soft tannins.

          - Josh Raynolds, Vinous, October 2015 - 93 points

Ernie’s barrel selection meant to reflect the vineyard. Each block in the vineyard is fermented with whole clusters in small 1.5-ton lots and aged 18 months in French oak barrels. Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Welcoming aromas of black cherry, rose petal, mushroom and pine sap lead to a middleweight styled wine with attacking flavors of black cherry and raspberry. The fine grain tannins are well proportioned, their is seasoned oak in the background, and the wine finishes with a juicy and admirably long finish.

          - William "Rusty" Gaffney, M.D., PinotFile, September 2016 - 92 points

2011 Estate Selection

RFN red provides notice while cinnamon and sandalwood entertain cocoa and five spice. A rich palate offers deep red fruits and integrated stem tannins. A masculine impression of a feminine vintage providing striking presence all the while keeping its knickers on. A long and lingering finish culminates the trinity of acidity, fruit and tannin. Unfined and unfiltered.

          - Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes

Brilliant red. Heady mineral- and spice-laced red berry liqueur and rose pastille aromas pick up a deeper cola nuance with air. Juicy, appealingly sweet raspberry and cherry flavors are given lift and spine by tangy acidity and smoky minerality. Flavorful yet brisk and nervy, this Pinot Noir finishes with a weightless quality, silky tannins and excellent thrust.

          - Josh Raynolds, Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, October 2015 – 92 points

Refined and subtle, this shows the power of Pinot at its most elegant. The fruits are mellow, melded and lightly marked with baking spices. Smooth and showing surprising density, it has the frame and finesse to age beautifully.

          - Paul Gregutt, Wine Enthusiast Magazine, June 2015 – 92 points, Cellar Selection

2010 Estate Selection

The color of cherry so sauvage and aromas of freshly hand hewn Brazilian Cherry wood, Incense, red currant and ripe red raspberry set the stage. The palate experience entertains with a lively and complex weave of red fruits, sandalwood and guarded virtue before abandoning control to persuasive acidity and refined stem tannins that linger effortlessly.

          - Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes

Bright red. Expressive spicy, floral bouquet evokes fresh rose, red berries and incense, with a subtle orange zest note adding lift. Silky, tangy and precise, offering nervy redcurrant and raspberry flavors that slowly flesh out with air. Shows outstanding clarity and lift on the long, spicy finish, which betrays just a hint of fine-grained tannins.

          - Josh Raynolds, Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, July/Aug 2014 – 92 points

2009 Estate Selection

Estate Selection reveals restrained power, richness and balance from the vintage. This is Ernie’s selection of barrels to enliven the palate and provide a lingering finish. Estate Selection is the complement to Amalie’s Cuvée.

“A little bit dangerous” red. The sensory evaluation starts with a delineated array of ripe raspberry, cinnamon, clove and “cerise sauvages noires” that trigger the early warning pheromone receptors - game on.

The palate experience begins innocently with a full spectrum of well developed, yet restrained Pinot Noir fruit that soon reveals the staying power of stem tannin and vibrant acidity. As the finish lingers effortlessly, you return to the edge and WTF (waft the fruit.)

A wine that is “broad at the shoulder and narrow at the hips,” swirling in the glass, ready to meet your lips. Unfined and unfiltered.

          - Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes

Bright medium red. Sexy, intensely perfumed aromas of strawberry, cherry, potpourri and spicecake, with a hint of blood orange in the background. Bright and taut on entry, then sweet and fleshy in the mid-palate, offering seamless red fruit preserve flavors and a hint of candied rose. Shows strong spiciness and floral character on the finish, which lingers with impressive persistence and clarity

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

2008 Estate Selection

Estate Selection reveals restrained power, richness and balance from the vintage. A selection to enliven the palate and provide a lingering finish. Estate Selection is the complement to Amalie’s Cuvée.

Respectful red. Dark cherry and chocolate billow as fresh tilled earth underlies the aroma. A muscular yet exacting embrace is well developed and delineated as the accessible fruit and firm tannins colonize the palate. A precision transition introduces you to a “velvet hammer” finish.

A wine that is “broad at the shoulder and narrow at the hips,” swirling in the glass, ready to meet your lips. Unfined and unfiltered.

          - Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes

Bright red. Complex, perfumed bouquet offers an array of red fruit and floral qualities, with musky underbrush and spice notes and suave mineral lift. Sappy, deeply concentrated raspberry and cherry flavors are impressively lithe and focused, picking up candied rose and spicecake qualities with air. Fine-grained and seamless, with excellent finishing clarity and persistent spiciness. Boasts an impressive combination of depth and energy.

          - Josh Raynolds, Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, July/Aug 2011 – 92 points

This juicy pinot exhibits bright strawberry scents, a dark red earth note and a hint of allspice. The flavors are assertive and brisk, the acidity pushing the wine like wind on a sail, the tannins firmly keeping the wine in line. Its tight construction suggests a long life. Cellar then serve with duck.

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

The 2008 Pinot Noir Estate Selection offers up greater complexity and aging potential. Lovely aromatics and good richness on the palate suggest that this impeccably balanced wine will deliver enjoyment through 2023.

          - The Wine Advocate, October 2011 – 92 points

Oregon Wine Awards, May 2011 – Double Gold

2007 Estate

Estate reveals the fully developed power, richness and balance from the vintage. We select barrels that enliven the palate and provide a lasting finish. Estate is the complement to Amalie’s Cuvée.

Pungent incense, five spice powder, candied red cherry and sweet cigar box cedar segue to a lithe palate experience. Candied red fruits, dried herbs and a sweet core of freshly tilled soil drench the plate. The rich mouth feel also shows focus and an effortless transition to the many layers of this wine. The mid-palate tension leaves a sense of something more just below the surface, waiting to be revealed. The expansive finish continues to develop underscoring the balance and power hidden in this vintage. Or, more simply put, “Pretty Fruit, Nice Acid ®.” Unfined and unfiltered. 277 cases produced. 

          - Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes

Vivid red. Exotically spiced red berry and cherry aromas are complicated by notes of cola, sassafras, star anise and cinnamon. Juicy, impressively precise red fruit flavors are framed by silky tannins and lifted by a zesty suggestion of blood orange. Fine-grained and lithe, leaving sweet red fruit and candied floral notes behind. This sexy wine is drinking very well today but is balanced to reward another five years of aging.

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

Oregon Wine Awards, May 2010 – Double Gold

2006 Estate

Estate reveals the fully developed power, richness and balance from the vintage. We select barrels that enliven the palate and provide a lasting finish. Estate is the complement to Amalie’s Cuvée.

The rich and brooding black cherry hue introduces aromas of dark chocolate covered espresso beans, dried Bing cherries and spices framed by cigar box, cedar and underbrush. A well rounded and fully developed palate offers richness and layers of Pinot noir fruit. Mouth coating tannins and firm acidity frame the powerful finish and reinforce this wine’s staying power.

Unfined and unfiltered. 235 cases produced. Dijon Clone 115 (57%), Dijon Clone 114 (16%), Dijon Clone 113 (16%) and Wadenswil (11%).

          - Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes

Medium red. Fresh strawberry and raspberry aromas are complicated by dried rose, underbrush and licorice notes. Fleshy, gently sweet red berry flavors coat the palate and are framed by fine-grained tannins, which are slowly absorbed by the fruit. The sweet berry flavors linger on the finish, which is broad, velvety and edge-free. This is delicious right now.

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

The 2006 Pinot Noir Estate delivers an aromatic array of spice box, smoke, cherry, and raspberry. Medium-bodied, on the palate it has good concentration and depth, savory red fruit flavors, light tannin, and an easy-going personality. It will provide pleasure over the next eight years.

          - The Wine Advocate, October 2009 – 90 points

This is essentially a reserve, similar to the Dijon Clones bottling but given more time in oak. It is a powerful, muscular wine, and the strawberry and cherry flavors are sweet and candied. Almost half the oak was new, and adds a chocolaty twist to the finish.

          - Wine Enthusiast Magazine, October 2009 – 91 points

Northwest Palate Magazine, May/June 2009 - Recommended

2005 Estate

The 2005 growing season was a welcome relief from the recent warmer vintages and was a return to cool climate viticulture. The resulting wines show beautifully developed aromatics, lush red fruits and trenchant acidity. Look for great aging potential in these wines.

“Estate” shows richness and power from the vintage and is the complement to Amalie’s Cuvée.

A rich red hue leads you to aromas of bittersweet baking cocoa, dried cherries, vanillin, Five spice and underbrush. On the palate the flavors are sweet dark fruit and dried black cherries around a core of earthiness and baking spice. The finish shows well integrated and finely grained tannins. well balanced acidity provides sound structure. Unfined and unfiltered.

          - Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes

Bright medium red. Black raspberry, kirsch and Indian spices on the nose, with a subtle floral undertone gaining strength with air. Red and dark berry flavors offer medium body and good depth and sweetness, with the suave, velvety finish displaying sneaky mineral lift, a strong blackberry quality and no obvious tannins.

          - Josh Raynolds, Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, May/June 2007 – 90 points