We have a stellar lineup this month for our valued Wine Club Members. Reviews are below. Note that quite a few folks are having wine held in our nice, cold warehouse because it’s too hot to ship!
2014 Lemelson Pinot Noir Six Vineyards
$21 / bottle
Pinotguy 90 Points
Premium Wine Club
Lemelson delivers the goods at the value end of the price spectrum with this gorgeous quaffer, blended from lots sourced from all of their estate vineyards. It’s juicy, fresh, lively, and shows off the dark red / blackberry fruit character of the vintage. It’s quite open knit and drinkable now, and should age reasonably well for the short-to-medium term. It’s a great value from an upper-tier producer.
Lemelson is a good winery visit the next time you’re being a tourist in Oregon. After checking out the large tasting room with a terrific view, you can spiral down a concrete staircase into the bowels of the earth to see their wine caves, which were formed by taking giant concrete gully sections and burying them — quonset hut shaped, basically, topped with dirt to make a set of caves for wines aging in the bottle. They are also going to brag about their large solar array that provides much of the power to run the winery, as well other steps taken to be green and renewable.
This big spider-like machine pictured here is a mobile platform that lets the rider on top move from tank to tank for punchdowns during fermentation. Designed by Eric Hamcher back in the day, the machine includes a mechanical food — “bigfoot” is what they call it — to actually perform the punchdowns. That’s a big improvement over the traditional but arduous manual method.
2012 Amalie Robert Pinot Noir The Uncarved Block
$32 / bottle
Pinotguy 92 Points
Premium Wine Club
2012 Amalie Robert Pinot Noir Wadenswil Clone
$68 / bottle
Pinotguy 94 Points
World Class Wine Club
I’ve coined a new title for Amalie Robert Winery: Oregon’s Best Top Tier Winery You’ve Probably Never Heard Of.
Consider these qualifications:
- Amalie Robert Gets Scads of Critical Acclaim — in fact, they are in fairly rarified territory given all the excellent ratings they’ve received from Vinous, Stephen Tanzer and Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. Across a wide variety of different wines, different vintages, and a swath of price points, most critics love their wine — just as I do.
- Amalie Robert Makes Many Different Highly Regarded Wines — besides multiple tiers of pinot noir, they also make the rare pinot Meunier, two styles of chardonnay, some viogner, rose, and even a Willamette Valley syrah that tastes good (a rare thing).
Now, OregonPinotNoirDotCom clients are quite familiar with this winery, since we’ve been offering their products from the first vintage. But even our vast reach and influence has not been enough by itself to launch them to cult status.
3. Amalie Robert Is A Bit Isolated — They are located in Dallas, Oregon — on the other side of the tracks in a one mill town that had the mill shut down years ago. It’s a part of the Willamette Valley with only a few wineries. So, very few wine tourists ever make it to their winery. It’s harder to get noticed down there, even with well known neighbors, like Freedom Hill Vineyard, just over the fence line. (The inference here is that they have great dirt, too.)
The Owners / Operators — Ernie Pink and Dena Drews — Work Too Much — When you’re farming, you’re not selling . . .and between the two of them, they do all the farming and all the winemaking and all the selling. That’s a lot. And, Ernie writes all of his own material, too, and he’s funny as well as informative.
It was a tough call to choose which wines to pick for the wine club, because their entire lineup is delicious. But I finally narrowed things down to two wines.
The Uncarved Block Pinot Noir is their entry level wine. Here’s Ernie’s take on the bottling: “This is the story of the sculptor and The Uncarved Block. When a sculptor imagines a block of marble, he sees what others cannot. His chisel removes what does not belong to expose the elegance and beauty of what was hidden. This purity of form is only revealed by careful and thoughtful action.
“In our desire to produce wines of integrity and beauty, we have embraced a vision of the inherently pure qualities of Pinot Noir. Our uncarved block was a cherry orchard that we sculpted into a 35 acre vineyard.
“As is the case with all of our Pinot Noirs, this bottling is 100% estate grown and hand harvested fruit. The individual blocks were fermented with whole clusters and indigenous yeast from the vineyard. In the cellar, we aged the individual lots in French oak barrels for more than 12 months. The blend is a reflection of our soils, microclimates and stewardship of the land.”
That’s better-than-usual winery writing, and a better-then-usual pinot, too. The wine has cool red fruit flavors, fine structure, and superb balance. There is a fine spice character added by the whole clusters, but also a fine minerality that adds cut and dimension. It is uncommonly concentrated for the price point, with a broad midpalate but also a firm core that will take even a bit more bottle age to show fully. It’s a 2012 with balanced alcohol, and the wine shows all of the flavor that ’12 produced, but avoids the over-done style that a ripe vintage can sometimes create.
Vinous Media gave this wine 90 points with these notes: “Lurid red. Mineral-laced aromas of fresh red berries, candied rose and potpourri, complicated by a hint of blood orange. Fresh and racy on entry, then deeper in the midpalate, offering energetic bitter cherry and spicecake flavors with a hint of floral pastilles. Fine-grained tannins build slowly on the lively finish, which hangs on with very good, spicy tenacity.”
The Wadenswil Clone bottling is a bigger, more concentrated wine that belies the commonly held belief that the Wadenswil clone provides high-toned elegance — this is a fairly burly version of the clone bottled on its own. The wine has seriously concentrated red and dark red fruit that is dense and textured, but that stays lifted and lithe thanks to the acidity. Fine tannins are suffused through the wine as a perfect complement to all the fruit, creating balance. Like many of the top 2012 pinots, this certainly has scads of charm for current drinking, but is nowhere near maturity. It’s going to take another year or three to unwind the formidable concentration, and some years past that to approach maturity. Decant this now, or hold for 1-5 more years.
This wine recieved a Vinous 93 Points, with these notes: “Brilliant red. Potent mineral-tinged aromas of black raspberry, cherry-cola and smoky Indian spices, with a hint of lavender in the background. Concentrated yet lithe on the palate, offering intense dark berry compote and bitter cherry flavors that slowly become sweeter with aeration. Chewy tannins come on late, adding grip to the very long, penetrating, fruit-driven finish.
2012 Chardonnay Her Silhouette — the Northwest’s best unoaked chardonnay. . . $25 / bottle. This wine really lights up the palate! It’s dry, with scintillating acidity, scads of minerals, citrus fruits, and hints of tropical fruits on the palate. It’s long, zesty, and refreshing. And, no oak to muddy things up! https://goo.gl/DA1SW6
2016 Pinot Meunier — fresh, lithe, juicy, the perfect light red for fun drinking . . .$36 / bottle. There’s some loam and minerals to set off the pretty, pure red fruit. This is a gorgeous middle-weight, lightly-structured red for summer drinking. It can handle a slight chill with aplomb, and won’t trash your palate with “big” alcohol or structure. A lively, pleasurable wine. https://goo.gl/dRgosW
2014 Winderlea Pinot Noir
Dundee Hills Vineyard
$45 / bottle
Pinotguy 92 Points
World Class Wine Club
Winderlea is situated in the heart of the Dundee Hills, perhaps Oregon’s most best-known AVA. The vines here are planted on iron-rich soils, which are indeed red. These volcanic soils tend to produce wines that are brighter, with spicy red fruit and moderate structure.
Winderlea is the former Goldschmidt vineyard, purchased by Bill and Cathy Sweat back in the early 2000s. The site was planted in 1974, and thus qualifies as an old-vine vineyard — really old, by Oregon standards!
Winderlea makes a lineup of pinots from various top sites including their own estate vineyard, Maresh, Shea, and others. Bottlings include chardonnay, pinot blanc and rose as well as pinot noir.
This 2014 bottling is well-crafted, early-drinking wine that shows real Dundee Hills character. Red fruits dominate, although they are of a dark-red character typical of the vintage. There are light tannins and good acidity to add some cut and focus, while the overall palate impression is juicy, savory and fresh. The finish is long and balanced. Decant and drink this now, or cellar for the medium-term.