The season is right for an Argyle bubbly

in Wine by

It feels like it’s time to do a bubbly again … to me, anyhow.

It’s been a while, and I know we don’t like to get into any ruts, so, we’ll do a bubbly.

I’m pretty sure we can all come up with something to celebrate. Or just a reason to drink, right?

Since we are going to do a bubbly this week, way off the calendar for any particular occasion, let’s do our very first one from Oregon.

Sparkling wines from the Pacific Northwest are not as numerous as those from California. But they are well-respected and can be exceptional.

The climate in this area is fantastic for sparkling wines. If we remember how far north the Champagne region of France is located, and how much cooler the whole growing season is because of its location, then we can guess that maybe some of the same conditions can exist in Oregon.

Actually, by making sparkling wine in the Champagne region, they were able to save their wine industry and grow it into the great region it is now. Too-cool growing seasons made grapes that were not always ripe enough to even produce enough flavor compounds. Bubbles hid this “flaw” and let what used to be considered lesser grapes make spectacular wines. Thank goodness!

In addition, if we remember from our previous Champagne discussions, the three grapes used for French Champagne are chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier. We should also remember how Oregon’s wine reputation was built on their pinot noir wines.

Besides having superb growing conditions for pinot noir, Oregon also has great sources for Chardonnay. Starting to make sense why Oregon bubbles might be so good?

Overall, bubblies from Oregon can be drunk like any other sparkling wine. But, too, because of their relatively high acidity levels and fresh textures, they are amazingly well-suited to seafood and poultry.

It’s interesting, and good news for us, that even though Oregon pinot noir still wines tend to be a bit higher priced, their bubbles are more reasonably priced, even though they actually are more expensive to produce.

If you were to look up Oregon sparkling wines, one of the very first wineries mentioned is always Argyle.

Argyle Winery was founded in 1987, by Rollin Soles. Located in the Willamette Valley, Argyle was established to make sparkling wines. In fact, they produced Oregon’s first-ever sparkling wine with the “méthode champenoise.” That basically means the bubbles are made in the wine in the bottle we buy it in.

Today, Argyle farms and hand harvests about 400 acres of vines in the Willamette Valley: Knudsen Vineyard in the Dundee Hills AVA, Lone Star Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA and Sprit Hill Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA. They’re the third largest owner/vineyard farmer in Oregon.

Argyle’s sparkling wine is their flagship wine.

It is always vintage-dated. Their fermentation always takes from three to 10 years. And the bottles are disgorged and corked only when they have been ordered for retail sales. Argyle sparkling wines are the highest rated sparkling wines outside of France.

Our wine this week is the Argyle Brut, Willamette Valley AVA, 2012.

The 2012 growing season produced grapes with full flavors and good focus. Overall, good dry weather produced ripe fruit.

Ninety percent of the grapes were fermented in stainless steel and 10 percent in neutral oak barrels. No malolactic fermentation was done on the base wines, so the finished sparkling wine has intense, crisp acidity.

There was some hail late in the growing season, which reduced the yields from some vineyards.

The finished 2012 Brut is 60 percent Chardonnay and 40 percent pinot noir. It is full of yellow summer fruit flavors – white peaches and nectarines, sweet lemons, pineapple – baked apples and cloves and ginger spice. It is creamy in your mouth, and concentrated and fleshy. It has a long finish with a noticeable minerality and a lively acidity. Usually, this wine costs close to $30. But, it’s hot and we can’t put our argyle socks on now. So, for $21.99 we’re good! Enjoy.