Anne Amie Vineyards of the Willamette Valley, Oregon & Dolin Vermouth de Chambery of Alpine France
This week we will explore a combination of four wines from Anne Amie Vineyards and, believe it or not, three very tasty gourmet Vermouths that we recently came across from a French producer named Dolin de Chambery. We assume that many of you, like we were, are familiar with only large-scale, industrial grade vermouths like Martini & Rossi, but we were so impressed with these new products from Dolin that we felt obligated to show them off. Not only are they pleasant to drink on their own, but they truly add something special to cocktails with their botanical flavors and excellent aromatics. Altogether there will be four whites and three reds including a fruit-forward white blend, Pinot Gris, Vermouth Blanc (sweet), Dry Vermouth, two Pinot Noirs and a Vermouth Rouge (sweet).
Dolin Vermouth de Chambery is a superior-quality Vermouth producer located in the French Alps that uses fine wines and botanicals found in the Alpine meadows above Chambery. The blends impart a fresh and elegant nose, with subtle yet complex palates. Dolin is among the few remaining independent producers of Vermouth and the last producing Vermouth de Chambery. They continue to make the authentic product according to the principles which earned Chambery, France’s only A.O. for Vermouth back in 1932- this means the production takes place in Chambery with the maceration of real plants as opposed to pre-prepared infusions, and the addition of sugar as opposed to other sweetening products. The finished Vermouth contains 75-80% wine, much more than those made by large internationally-marketed producers. The base wine is very light, and as neutral as possible, and comes from the Armagnac vineyards of the Gers in addition to local/regional producers. The plants used for the Dolin “secret recipe” come from the herbs and aromatic plants naturally found in the Alpine meadows above Chambery.
Vermouth is a fortified, aromatized wine made from a combinaton of neutral wine, herbs and plants, grape spirits, and sugar. The process begins with a base wine, low in alcohol (10% ABV) and as neutral as possible, to which a selection of herbs and plants are added and left to macerate for several months. The exact recipe is a closely guarded secret, but there are up to 54 different plants used, most notably wormwood, and also hyssop, chamomile, genepi, chincona bark and rose petals. The aromatized wine is then sweetened to various degrees with natural sugar (the Dry much less than the Blanc and Rouge). The color of the Rouge does not come from red wine, but instead from the particular plants used and from sweetening with dark, caramelized sugar. Finally the Vermouths are fortified with the addition of grape spirits.
For centuries Vermouth proved to be an effective form of early, homeopathic medicine. Right up until the 20th century, doctors regularly prescribed Vermouths for all manners of illness, and many people continue to take a glass per day for medical reasons.
Anne Amie Winery of the Yamhill-Carlton district of the Willamette Valley in Oregon was founded in 1999 by Dr. Robert Pamplin. He purchased the historic Chateau Benoit with the vision to create wines of the highest quality to reflect his passion for excellence. Winemaker Thomas Houseman and grapegrower Jason Torsch are in charge of crafting extraordinary Pinot Noir and white wines. Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Blanc are the heart of the Anne Amie production. Some of the grapes are estate grown, and the others sourced from premium sites in Yamhill-Carlton and the Chahalem Mountains, which are all Salmon Safe and LIVE Certified. The estate vineyards, as well as those from which grapes are purchased, receive only the minimal required treatments and yields are dramatically reduced in order to provide fruit with great depth of flavor and complexity. The estate vineyards are located in the rolling hills of the Yamhill-Carlton district and on the steep hillsides of the Chehalem Mountains; their LIVE certified winery (which I’ve been to, by the way!) is located on the Yamhill-Carlton property within a beautiful, scenic setting. Anne Amie Winery is part of the Yamhill-Carlton AVA and the Chehalem Mountains Winegrowers.
We hope you will join us this week for a fun and interesting tasting!
The specific wines for the tasting are:
Dolin Vermouth de Chambery Dry NV– Chambery, France. “Made to the same set of recipes since 1821, Dolin Vermouth de Chambéry has long been the benchmark for fine French Vermouth. Made with fine wines of the region and botanicals found in the Alpine meadows above Chambéry, together they impart a fresh and elegant nose, with a subtle and complex palate. Ideal as an aperitif or in cocktails. In the late 19th century, Dolin Vermouth de Chambéry won medals in Paris, London, St. Louis and Philadelphia and in 1932 earned Chambéry France’s only Appellation d’ Origine for Vermouth.” Jen’s note- Clear in color with floral, herbaceous, and salty scents. It is dry and complex on the palate with nutty hints, and a super-long finish. 17.5% ABV. Tasting $17.99
Dolin Vermouth de Chambery Blanc NV– Chambery, France. “In 1821 Dolin invented Vermouth de Chambery, of which the clear sweet Blanc and dry varieties soon attracted great admiration. The Blanc is famously served with a sliced strawberry, a splash of soda and a twist.” Jen’s note- Clear in color with a spicy, minty nose. The palate is sweet and friendly with floral and peppermint flavors. 16.0% ABV. Tasting $14.99
Dolin Vermouth de Chambery Rouge NV– Chambery, France. “Dolin Rouge imparts a lovely spicy palate amid its light and fresh profile, with a clean finish to complement a drink’s other components. In cocktails such as the Manhattan or Negroni, the light profile makes possible more traditional and balanced proportions.” Jen’s note- Caramel, rusty in color with a complex bouquet of licorice, coffee, savory herbs, potpourri, cinnamon, rose, and pine. It is light- to medium- in sweetness with a sweet and savory finish. Tasting $14.99
Anne Amie Vineyards Cuvee A Amrita 2009– Willamette Valley, France. A blend of 44% Chardonnay, 29% Muller Thurgau, 15% Viognier, and 12% Pinot Gris. “The name Amrita comes from the Buddhist equivalent of ambrosia, or a wine of the gods. The Amrita is a unique inspiration each harvest, crafted from different varieties to be an irresistible, fruit-forward wine.” Jen’s note- Fruit salad aromas of melon, citrus, and herbs are followed by a fruity palate with bright, mouthwatering acidity and a juicy finish. 16.0% ABV. Tasting $13.99
Anne Amie Vineyards Pinot Gris 2010– Willamette Valley, Oregon. “The Willamette Valley Pinot Gris is an elegant expression of this versatile varietal. Intensely aromatic powdery floral notes give way to a palate of asian pear, meyer lemon, and rose petal. Balanced and crisp, this wine is a great match for many dishes from chicken paella or moules-frites (mussels and french fries) to pork roast.” 88 Wine Spectator- “Light and fragrant, with peach and melon flavors finishing with a citrusy lift.” Jen’s note- Aromatic floral and peach scents with bright pineapple and tropical fruits. The thirst-quenching palate offers good texture and acid followed by a savory finish. An outstanding value. Tasting $16.99
Anne Amie Vineyards Cuvee A Pinot Noir 2009– Willamette Valley, Oregon. Blended from 10 different premium vineyards. Aged approximately 10 months in French oak: 13% new, 20% 1-year, and 67% neutral. “A vineyard is made up of many microclimates that produce wines with different characteristics and this blend reflects that diversity. The Cuvee A Pinot Noir is a selection of the most [fruit-] forward and charming barrels of Pinot Noir, blended in a style meant to capture their bright, fresh flavors and aromas.” 88 Wine Spectator- “Light and tangy, with a crisp edge to the delicate guava and tea flavors, lingering silkily.” Jen’s note- Light in color with a savory nose of spice, flowers, and herbs with undertones of earth and tea. A great flavor profile of balanced fruits, spice, savory qualities, and forest is complemented by a savory, tasty finish. A serious style for the money that presents great value. Tasting $18.99
Anne Amie Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2009– Willamette Valley, Oregon. Made mostly from grapes from the Anne Amie Estate Vineyard blended with fruit from 10 other premium sites. Aged for 10 months in French oak: 26% new, 20% 1-year, and 54% neutral. “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!” 88 Wine Advocate- “The 2009 Pinot Noir Anne Amie Estate is reticent aromatically and a bit tightly wound on the palate. Spicy red fruits, floral notes, and cedar inform the nose of a savory, balanced wine that will benefit from 1-2 years of cellaring. If it blossoms as I think it will, down the road my score will look conservative.” Jen’s note- A beautiful nose of bright, juicy, sweet red fruits and botanical undertones. The palate offers great acidity and texture with savory earthy hints. Soft texture and balanced flavors are evident as the wine opens up. Great complexity is evident in it’s long, delicious finish filled with black tea and coffee notes. Tasting $28.99