Anne Amie Vineyards

| September 18, 2010 | 5 Comments

The day was perfection, visually and atmospherically speaking. The pristine air in the valley permitted the earthy colors and hues of the mountains, the fertile land and the ever-changing sky to arrive in our eyes with the luminous clarity of a Thomas Cole landscape. The light crawled lazily across the sky, bathing everything in its path. The composition of cloud and sky was a virtual light show, and even when billowing masses of vapor seemed to prevail, scattered openings of cerulean light spotlighted their targets. A rare visual feast. 


Soon we would be tasting all of this from the grapes that endured many months of unpredictable elements while sustaining themselves off the land their keepers meticulously chose. The fruit records all this exposure in its juicy memory before surrendering it to the winemaker who nudges, ages and bottles a snapshot of its earthly life. Even as we twirl it in a glass, it reminds us that it is alive and its life is still evolving, expanding, and teasing us to contemplate the earthly essence it holds. Breathe in its bouquet for a prelude to the main act. Sip and it arouses our tongues, releasing its pent-up secrets of experience on the vine — like sharing little hints of of its tastes and fragrances for us to solve. This is its personality, its character, makeup, disposition and charm. This is its terroir! 

It’s the Saturday before Labor Day and our merry quartet—three eager tasters and one cherished designated driver—is heading for the hills, the hills of Yamhill County where some of the finest pinot noirs in Oregon are born. Our driver, undesignated on the outbound trip, pilots the van to the first stop on the day’s itinerary with verve and spirit, sometimes conquering the sinuous county roads on two wheels, or so it seems as our cheeks meet the windows and we grab for something solid. At county fairs one must pay dearly for such rides but this one, apparently, is on the house. 

This is our first visit to Anne Amie Vineyards, I’m embarrassed to admit, but we have enjoyed their wines from time to time. Their wines are easy to spot on a shelf with their “Belle Époque”-style labels brandishing two smartly dressed young women of the era, presented in front of a vineyard background. We have always loved the label and found it indicative of the elegant and refined wines Anne Amie produces. 


Anne Amie 2007 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Label


We believe that all great wines start in the vineyards. We are fortunate to have some of Oregon’s best sites, all of which are Salmon Safe and LIVE certified.  Our estate vineyards, along with those we purchase from, receive only the minimal required treatments and yields are dramatically reduced in order to give fruit with great depth and complexity. 

Our vineyards are located in the rolling hills of the Yamhill-Carlton District and on the steep hillsides of the Chehalem Mountains, both nestled in Oregon’s verdant Willamette Valley. Our LIVE certified winery is located on our Yamhill-Carlton property, a few miles from both Lafayette and Carlton, Oregon. 

We are proud to be part of the Yamhill-Carlton AVA, and the Chehalem Mountains Winegrowers. 

Anne Amie Vineyards 

Ksandek Podbielski mans the tasting bar

Our host starts us off with the 2009 Cuvée A Amrita, a blend of six grapes including Pinot Gris, Müller-Thurgau, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer and Viognier. Amrita or Amrit is a Sanskrit word which literally translates as “that which is immortal,” or more loosely as nectar or ambrosia. It appears throughout the Dharmic religions of the Indian sub-continent in Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. As the winemaker suggests, this makes a delightful aperitif and is their favorite match with Pan-Asian foods. Below are the winemaker’s tasting notes, suggested food  pairings and accolades. Vic commented that he tasted hints of grapefruit. This wine is currently an excellent value at $12 a bottle. 

2009 Cuvée A Amrita 

leechee, quince, honeysuckle
honeydew, kiwi, white peach, spice
rich, dry, minerality
oysters,  shellfish, pho, spring rolls, banh mi, fried chicken 


The 2008 Amrita follows and is the same blend as above without the Müller-Thurgau and Gewürztraminer. Priced at $16 a bottle, it’s still a good value. 

2008 Cuvée A Amrita 

jasmine, leechee, quince
honeydew, kiwi, grass, gooseberry, spice
dry, minerality
oysters, shellfish, pho, spring rolls, banh mi, fried chicken

Both of the notes from the winery make reference to “minerality.” My first encounter with minerality threw up flags of “misspelled.” You won’t find it in many dictionaries. I found the following article from The Washington Post entertaining and informative on this subject. The writer says that for him, minerality is wine’s “umami” or fifth taste. “It’s an expression of place, of terroir, that hard-to-define concept that a wine can display characteristics of its vineyard’s soil, climate and vintage.” 

Linger long enough around a crowd of wine lovers, and you’re bound to hear someone say a wine has “minerality.” Others will nod in agreement, and the conversation will continue, most likely without explanation. 

Minerality is the current buzzword of the vinoscenti, used to show off one’s expertise and sophisticated palate. It appears in wine reviews in newspapers and magazines with the assumption that readers will know what the word means. It’s a positive term: Wine lovers use “minerality” to express approval of a wine, just as neophytes say “Smooth!” (Just when you thought you were getting the hang of this, we come up with something new.) So what is minerality, and what does it taste like? 

Click here for the answer and more. The Washington Post 

Anne Amie Tasting Room

While we are still on whites we are offered a taste of the 2007 Prismé, Pinot Noir Blanc. Pinot Noir Blanc? Really? Not Pinot blanc? No! Pinot Noir Blanc! 

Prismé is the truest expression of the Pinot noir grape. We select only our finest blocks of Pinot noir and gently press the grapes, liberating the free run juice, but not the color or tannins from the skins. It is then barrel-fermented, and aged on its lees in French oak barrels for 18 months. This structured white wine has a backbone of acidity, a voluptuous mid-palate and a long, creamy finish. Prismé is named after the word prism - the splitting of white light into its corresponding colors.  Here we are doing precisely that in reverse, making a rich, textured white wine from Pinot noir. 

“Quelle surprise!” Vic utters while scratching the phrase in his notebook. We three tasters look at each other as if to say, “Can we just linger here with this bottle for the rest of the day and order in the butter-poached lobster in truffle cream sauce?” 

So much for fantasizing. As you will see in the press notes below, this bottle’s a hit. 

2007 Prismé, Pinot Noir Blanc
cream soda, nutmeg, honeysuckle, Bartlett pear
quince, golden raspberry, shortbread, toasted marshmallow, ginger, white pepper
long, rich
butter-poached lobster in truffle cream sauce, Dungeness crab, seared scallops

We continue into reds with the 2008 Cuvée A Pinot Noir. Steve Martin, Executive Director of the Historic Elsinore Theatre, personal friend and the third taster of our quartet, notes that this first red is very pleasant and a great value at $25 a bottle. Here are the vineyard’s notes and accolades. 

A vineyard is made up of many micro-climates that produce wines with different characteristics, and our blends reflect that diversity. Each vineyard block is carefully matched to a suited barrel. Our Cuvée A Pinot Noir is a selection of our most forward and charming barrels of Pinot noir, blended in a style meant to capture their bright, fresh flavors and aromas. 

black cherry, red raspberry, sandalwood, lavender, chocolate, kirsch, sweet tobacco
juicy, plush, licorice, anise, black cherry
long, smooth, silky tannins, chocolate
salmon, burgers, roast game hen, rabbit confit, venison, bacon-wrapped scallops 

Lastly we sip the 2007 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir which Steve gives 3 “very s”. He explains that it takes 3 very s to earn a yes. So we have from Steve a very, very, very nice. Charles adds that the first bottle of Anne Amie he opened at home elicited three wows. For Vic, it only takes one wow for a “more” rating. Both Steve and Charles emphasize that they picked up the Oregon white truffle. Here are the vineyard’s notes. 

2007 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 

The ultimate food wine, this Pinot noir is a brilliant match for any fare. From traditional Northwest cuisine, such as cedar-planked salmon or wild mushroom soup, to smoked or grilled meats - even just a great burger and truffle fries! 

wild cherry, raspberry, Oregon white truffle, maple sugar, sandalwood
pie cherry, cinnamon, raspberry, coriander, thyme, porcini mushrooms
elegantly balanced acidity, lingering fine-grain tannins
roast duck, filet mignon, wild mushroom risotto, planked salmon, burger & fries

Anne Amie is one of many highly regarded producers in the Willamette Valley and if you love Oregon wine, your cellar probably already has some examples from here. Charles was so mesmerized by the 2007 Prismé and Pinot Noir Blanc that he expects to see some under a certain tree later in the year. 

Our day continues with Cana’s Feast which will appear on our next post. From this point forward, Tina Martin, Steve Martin’s charming wife, assumes her role as CC or chosen chauffeur. Thank you, Tina. 

À votre santé, 

— Charles and Victor

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Category: Wine/Wineries

About the Author (Author Profile)

Music, food and photography are at the center of Charles’ life. He performed with the Dallas Symphony, Dallas Opera and was assistant principal bassoonist with the Fort Worth Symphony for more than 20 years. When Charles and Victor moved to Baltimore, Charles created Lone Star Personal Chef and Catering Service and taught cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma. Now in Salem, Charles is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Mountain West Real Estate, taught cooking classes for children at the A.C. Gilbert Discovery Village, and owns and operates Charles Price Photography. Charles and Vic enjoy entertaining and frequently host dinners as fundraisers for local non-profits and charities

Comments (5)

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  1. Mel Wagner says:

    Charles-beautiful scenery, and a great description of your time at this vineyard, and the wines you tasted. My husband and I will have to go check it out sometime.

  2. Charles says:

    Thanks Mel, Your anticipated post on “Mozzarella Martini” is coming up today.

  3. VPanichkul says:

    Wow, was that a hint or what, honey?

  4. What a throrough and extensive review of Anne Amie, Thomas Houseman is an exceptional winemaker (he’s perhaps even more interesting than his wines!). Can’t wait to hear what you have to say about Cana’s Feast (I just started working there as their new Marketing Manager)… Cheers!!

  5. Charles says:

    Thank you Tamara - Will begin on Cana’s Feast soon. As a matter of fact, I’m bringing some friends from TX and AR today, 9-28. I will ask for you.

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