April Domestic Wine: 2012 Anne Amie Vineyards “Cuvee A ‘Amrita’” Willamette Valley, OREGON

“When Dr. Robert Pamplin, one of Oregon’s most forward-thinking philanthropists and businessmen, purchased the historic Chateau Benoit Winery in 1999, his vision was to create wines of the highest quality to reflect his passion for excellence. To this end Dr. Pamplin has charged winemaker Thomas Houseman and winegrower Jason Tosch with the task of crafting extraordinary pinot noir. Thomas, Jason, and the rest of the crew are absolutely passionate about producing wines of the finest quality and have dedicated their lives to this quest.

Pinot reigns supreme at Anne Amie Vineyards with Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc forming the heart of our production. Complementing the pinot family is Old-Vine Estate Riesling and Müller Thurgau, planted in 1979. As with all great wines, our’s 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.”-anneamie.com

The name Amrita comes from the Buddhist equivalent of ambrosia, or a wine of the gods.  Our Amrita is a unique inspiration each harvest, crafted from different varieties to be an irresistible, lightly effervescent, fruit-forward wine. It makes a delightful aperitif and is our favorite match with Pan-Asian foods.

Vintage Description: After two vintages with some of the coolest temperatures on record, 2012 presented us with warm, consistent weather. It is amazing what 100 plus days without rain will do! A cool spring and rain during flowering led to small clusters, less than 50% of normal size. On the white wine side, we have wines with wonderful fruit concentration and acidity. 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.


Varietals: 26.3% Viognier, 24.1% Riesling, 15.7% Pinot Blanc, 14.3% Chardonnay, 9.2% Müller-Thurgau, 8.1% Pinot Gris and 2.3% Gewurtztraminer

Alcohol: 13.50% by volume

Tasting Notes: Aromas of quince, rose petal, confectionary sugar, passion fruit, and gooseberries. Flavors of white peach, strawberry, key lime, golden raspberry, and kumquats. The wine finishes with great spice and minerality.

Food Pairings: Pair this awesome white with shrimp and grits, Thai food, crab cakes, Carolina BBQ, salad rolls and fried chicken!

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “Welcome in Spring with a lively and aromatic over achieving White! This wine is loaded with flavors of fresh cut pears, minerality and citrus. What a wine! Great with salads and soups! Enjoy!”-JL

April Imported Wine: 2010 Tormentoso ‘Bush Vine’ Pinotage, Agter-Paarl, SOUTH AFRICA

“Cabo Tormentoso” (translated as “Stormy Cape” or “Cape of Storms”) is the original name for the Cape of Good Hope given to it by the Portuguese explorer Bartholomieu Dias who first rounded the Cape in 1488. The story goes that upon his return home, the Queen of Portugal took an immediate dislike to the name and changed it to “Cabo da Boa Esperança” – the “Cape of Good Hope” as we know it today. There are multiple readings of the word Tormentoso: drama, torment, struggle. All of these seem apt when you consider where our grapes are grown.

The vines grow in a dry area with little or no irrigation, but the rocky shale soils of the Agter-Paarl region allow the roots to penetrate deeply, to get to the moisture reserves. The vines have to endure a certain amount of struggle to ripen their grapes, and it’s this torment that produces our distinctive wines with concentrated flavors and aromas.

“We have sought out pockets of excellence from among our growers’ finest  vineyards and have chosen to highlight them in the Tormentoso range. Such as the Tormentoso Old Vine Chenin Blanc, where the grapes come from a 33-year-old vineyard, or the excellent Bush Vine Pinotage vineyard that always produces a bright, clean modern expression of this grape.” Tormentosowines.com/sa

Vinification Details: Grapes were hand-harvested from bush vine vineyards on Malmesbury shale soils. Matured in 40% new, small oak barrels for 12 months. A portion of Shiraz was blended into the wine for added complexity. Fined and filtered before bottling with screw-cap closures.

Vintage Description: Ideal ripening conditions started the 2010 season, with cool temperatures prevailing. Strong wines resulted in some crop loss, but increased concentration of flavors in remaining fruit. Good winter rains in 2009 kept vineyards healthy throughout summer. Overall, quality of wines was very good indeed.

Varietals: 89% Pinotage and 11% Shiraz

Alcohol: 14.0% by volume

Tasting Notes: A full bodied Pinotage with typical black cherry aromas, toasted marshmallows and sweet fruit. Palate shows plums with soft, rich tannins.

Food Pairings: This wine asks for fine cooking. Think of sweetbreads and morel mushrooms, venison, and lamb!

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “Explosive wine here! Loaded with concentration and layers of flavor. I am excited to have you experience Pinotage…one of South Africa’s treasures.  A great wine to drink with rich cheeses or something on the grill. Enjoy!”-JL