Friday, September 16, 2011

Disgorging Sparkling Wine With Rollin Soles of Argyle Winery

I was surprised at how little sparkling wine is produced in Oregon. With all that Pinot Noir, and a fair amount of Chardonnay, you would think the region would be ripe for sparkling wines. But only a handful of producers are making it, and the reason for that paucity is often cited to be the difficulty and high cost of production. So those few wineries making sparkling wine are pioneers, risk takers who have accepted the challenge.  It is also good to know that apparently none of the Oregon producers use the term "Champagne" on their sparkling wine labels.

While on a recent press trip to Portland, called Full On Oregon and sponsored by Travel Oregon, I encountered one of the largest producers of Oregon sparkling wine, Argyle Winery. Since 1987, Brian Croser and Rollin Soles, from their Dundee Hills winery, have been producing still and sparkling wines. All of their sparkling wines are vintage dated, and they use only Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes to produce several different styles, from Blanc de Blancs to a Rosé. They do not seek to create a consistent taste year from year, but rather want a sparkling wine reflective of each different vintage.

I had the pleasure to meet and chat with Rollin Soles, pictured above, a Texan native who is the winemaker at Argyle.  He has a Bachelor's in Microbiology from Texas A&M and a Masters of Science in Enology and Viticulture from UC Davis, and has previously worked at wineries in California, Switzerland, and Australia. Rollin was a personable, down-to-earth man with a clear passion for wine making, especially sparkling wines. He was quick with a smile and endeared himself to our group.

Rollin came bearing an antique disgorgement tool and three bottles of Argyle sparkling wine. The tool had a wooden handle with a small claw at the end, to remove the crown cap atop the bottles. In brief, disgorgement is the process of removing the sediment from a bottle of sparkling wine, and Rollin goes into more detail on the video. Basically, you open the crown cap with the tool, and the sediment shoots out because of the pressure in the bottle. But Rollin did not intend to disgorge the wines himself, instead desirous of having three of the media attendees perform.

On this amusing video, you will see Georgia, myself and Linda all disgorge a bottle of sparkling wine, each in our own unique way. This was my first time disgorging a bottle of sparkling wine, and hopefully I will do better on any subsequent efforts. But there is nothing wrong with a little shower of bubbly. It was plenty of fun and I am very glad I had the opportunity to try it. We got to drink the sparkling wine afterwards, a tasty and fairly complex Brut, making me want to try more of their wines.



Penny said...

Good Job! Is there anyone more fun than Rollin Soles?

Ed and I have also had the great pleasure of meeting him after we did one of our sparkler of the month post on the wonderful Argyle Brut. It's one of our favorite wines.

Wine Club said...

Great job and thanks for sharing experiences with the great wine ever.

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