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Tasting Latest Releases at Anne Amie Vineyards

The day before IPNC I visited Anne Amie Vineyards and tasted the latest releases with winemaker Thomas Houseman. Thomas is a colorful character who had a career early on as a modern dancer in New York where he learned to make beer with the dance company’s lighting director. Sufficiently intrigued by fermentation and its after products, he enrolled in the enology and viticulture program at University of California at Fresno. His zeal for Pinot Noir led to winemaking stints at Husch Vineyards in the Anderson Valley, Bell Hill Winery in New Zealand, and Ponzi Vineyards in the Willamette Valley.

Pinot Noir is produced primarily from two estate vineyards: Anne Amie Estate in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA on the winery estate property, and Twelve Oaks Estate nearby in the Chehalem Mountains. A total of 120 acres is planted, although not all is in production. Farming is all LIVE Certified Sustainable. The Anne Amie Estate consists of 13.5 acres in production planted between 2001 and 2007 to Pommard and Dijon 115 clones in Willakenzie soil.

Twelve Oaks Estate is in a cooler location than the Anne Amie Estate Vineyard and is divided into five smaller vineyards or blocks. Plantings include Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris. This estate vineyard was planted between 2000 and 2007 and includes Dijon 113, 114, 667, 777, “828,” Wädenswil and Pommard.

2013 was the last vintage that fruit was sourced and beginning with the 2014 vintage, all wines at Anne Amie Vineyards will be made with estate fruit.

Anne Amie Vineyards wines include the entry level Cuvée A Wines, the Classic Wines and the Reserve Wines. Only Classic and Reserve wines are reviewed here. All wines are bottled under screwcap closure.

Thomas told me that the 2012 vintage produced the most concentrated fruit ever. The warm but never hot growing season (100+ days without rain) led to small, intensely flavored clusters (less than 50% of normal size). The wines had so much structure that whole cluster was reigned in from the usual 5% to 20% amount used during vinification. Thomas noted, “The dream vintage combination of a low natural crop load, a warm dry summer, minimal disease pressure, and perfectly ripened fruit came true, with only one downside - there is not enough wine.” My tasting impressions confirm that these are darkly colored, highly hedonistic, luscious and densely fruited Pinot Noirs, yet they retain good vibrancy and balance.

The 2013 vintage was another story. Very early bud break and decent crop set was evident until a window of rain and cool temperatures set in leading to uneven berry sizes in the clusters. The result was balanced crop loads of 1.5 to 2 tons per acre. Summer was warm and dry and optimism ran high until around September 11 when rain showed up on the 10-day forecasts. By September 16, a typhoon was predicted. Grapes were picked before and during an extended warm period after the downpour resulting in essentially three harvests: warm and early, cool and damp, and warm and late.

2011 Anne Amie Marilyn Chehalem Mountains Brut Rosé

12.0% alc., pH 3.01, TA 0.83, RS .02%, 298 cases, $45. Released February 2015. 100% Twelve Oaks Estate. Production was by traditional méthode champenoise, aged on the lees en tirage for 3 years, and a dosage added after disgorgement. Aged a further 4 months in bottle before release. · Pretty pink-orange color in the glass with a good bead. Aromas of blood orange, peach and raspberry lead to a dry, crisp experience featuring flavors of blood orange, strawberry and Damsel plum. The fruit intensity is discreetly concentrated and satisfying, and the wine sports a refreshing finish than really cleanses the palate. I agree with Thomas regarding suggested food pairings: anything! Score: 92

2012 Anne Amie Prismé Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Blanc

14.1% alc., pH 3.25, TA 0.56, 364 cases, $40. Released June 2015. 100% Anne Amie Estate. Barrel fermented in French oak puncheons, lees stirring, 80% malolactic fermentation, and aged 16 months on its lees in 100% French oak barrels, 20% new. · Light yellow color in the glass. Inviting perfume of fresh cut Gravenstein apple, vanilla cream and fig. Slightly viscous on the palate, with a complex flavor profile featuring notes of apple, tropical citrus, pear and pastry cream. The finish shows remarkable persistence for a white wine. A very unique, serious wine that is one of the best examples of this white varietal. Score: 92

2011 Anne Amie L’Iris Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.1% alc., $60. 15-20% whole cluster. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. The nose leads with aromas of cherry, smoke and piney oak. Very elegant, and highly appealing on the palate in a mid weight style with plenty of fresh cranberry and black cherry fruit flavor, and a compliment of spice. Soft tannins make for easy accessibility. Score: 90-91

2012 Anne Amie Twelve Oaks Estate Boisseau Vineyard Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.1% alc., pH 3.51, TA 0.62, 125 cases, $40. Released March 2015. From the Brousseau block at Twelve Oaks Estate. At 750 feet elevation, Anne Amie’s highest elevation Pinot Noir planting and a cool site that does best in warmer vintages. Pommard 4, 667 and 777 clones. 100% de-stemmed, 5-day cold soak, aged a total of 16 months in French oak barrels, 54.5% new, and racked into neutral French oak barrels after 10 months. Bottled unfined and unfiltered and bottleaged for 12 months before release. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Lovely aromas of fresh cherry, strawberry, spice and toasty oak. Vibrant and clean on entry with a core of black cherry fruit that really makes a statement. Beautifully crafted with a seamless composure, finishing with amazing generosity. Score: 93-94

2012 Anne Amie Twelve Oaks Estate Louise Vineyard Chehalem Mountains Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.7% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.61, 150 cases, $40. Released March 2015. Louis Vineyard is the lowest elevation planting on the Twelve Oaks Estate making it a warmer site. Pommard 4 and Dijon 777 clones. Grapes were de-stemmed, cold-soaked for 5 days, aged a total of 16 months in French oak barrels, 45.5% new, racked into neutral French oak barrels after 10 months. Bottled unfined and unfiltered and bottle-aged for 12 months before release. · Dark reddish purple color in the glass. Slightly brooding aromas of black raspberry, cassis, underbrush, pine and spice. Bursting with luscious dark fruits, but somewhat reticent at this stage. A little more tannin and more oak overlay compared to the Boisseau Vineyard bottling, but a similar well-endowed finish. Score: 91-92

2012 Anne Amie Anne Amie Estate Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.7% alc., pH 3.57, TA 0.64, 150 cases, $40. Released March 2015. Clones are Pommard and Dijon 115. Aged 16 months in 100% French oak barrels racked into neutral French oak barrels after 10 months), 16.6% new, 66.7% 1-year, and 16.7% neutral. Bottled unfined and unfiltered and bottle-aged for 12 months before release. · Deep, dark violet color in the glass. Very restrained aromas of sous-bois, black cherry and blackberry lead to a full-bodied style that is plush with purple and black fruits. The tannins are rather rugged and muscular at this stage, even chewy, but are offset by a good vein of acidity. The long finish suggests potential with further cellaring. Score: 90-91

2013 Anne Amie Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

4,000 cases, $28. Crafted in a different style than in previous vintages (softer and more demure) and priced less. Softer and more demure. Aged 9 to10 months in barrel rather than 16 months as in previous vintages. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. A solid, forward-drinking wine with pleasant cherry aroma and flavor framed by soft, supple tannins, finishing on a brisk and refreshing note. Score: 88

2013 Anne Amie Winemaker’s Selection Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., pH 3.57, TA 0.59, 2,435 cases, $28. Release October 2015. 37% Anne Amie Estate, 53.7% Twelve Oaks Estate and 9.3% Huntington Hill. Multiple Dijon clones, Pommard 4 and Wädenswil 2A. Fruit was de-stemmed, an extended postfermentation maceration, and aged on the lees in French oak barrels for 10 months, 14.8% new. Once bottled, the wine was aged 6 months before release. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. The nose shyly reveals aromas of darker fruits and cardamom spice with the slightest sweet oak. Luscious and opulent on the palate, with a mid weight plus charge of black cherry and blackberry fruits nicely spiced and complimented by a touch of anise-laced oak. Very enjoyable now. Score: 89-90

2013 Anne Amie Two Estates Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

13.3% alc., 2,000 cases, $N/A. 68% Twelve Oaks Estate and 32% Anne Amie Estate. About 20% whole cluster. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 30% new. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with effusive aromas of cherry, rose petal and spice. More intensity, structure, and length than the Willamette Valley bottling, featuring inviting flavors of cherry, raspberry and spice. Forward drinking, with invitingly juicy acidity making for a vibrant, fullflavored wine. Score: 90-91

A side note. On the Thursday evening before IPNC, a number of special dinners are held throughout the Willamette Valley which are separate from the IPNC event but have become a tradition. This year I attended the Counter Culture event at Anne Amie Vineyards which is a celebration of urban street food and wine. This is a casual, walk-around affair on the winery’s property which offers entertainment as well as superb food and wines from some of the participating wineries at this year’s IPNC. Photo below courtesy of Andrea Johnson Photography

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