Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Argyle Winery: Brut Rosé Bubbly

There are only a small number of wineries in Oregon which produce sparkling wine, partially due to the higher costs involved in the process. Maybe the most famous producer of sparkling wine in Oregon is Argyle Winery, and on a previous visit to Portland I got to taste a few of their wines and meet their winemaker, Rollin Soles. Recently, I received a sample of their 2010 Brut Rosé, and it didn't disappoint in the least.  

In 1987, Argyle Winery was founded by Brian Croser and Rollin Soles, with a primary goal of creating sparkling wine, but they also created still wines. All of their sparkling wines are vintage dated, and they do not seek to create a consistent taste year from year, but rather want a sparkling wine reflective of each different vintage. For still wines, they produce Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling.

The past year has seen some significant changes to Argyle. First, they purchased a new facility in Newburg, Oregon, to they can expand production capacity beyond their current 50,000 cases. They will continue though to maintain their tasting room in Dundee. Second, in February 2013, Nate Klostermann was elevated to the role of head winemaker, though Rollin Soles will continue working with him, and signing off on all wines.

Third, the winery has redesigned their wine labels, to make it easier for consumers to choose the category of wine that caters to their preferences. One of the changes is that each wine now has one to three diamonds on the label. One diamond refers to the Grower Series "paying tribute to Argyle’s history as growers first." Two diamonds refer to the Artisan Series "which features select wines representing the best examples of the specific craft of Argyle’s viticulture and winemaking." Three diamonds refer to the Master Series which are "only the rarest, most age-worthy wines made in small quantities often from single vineyards."

The 2010 Brut Rosé ($50) is part of the Artisan Series and only 2000 cases were produced. The Rosé is a blend of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Pinot Meunier, and has an alcohol content of 12.5%. The Pinot Meunier is from a small plantiing in their Knudsen Vineyards. With an alluring aroma of red fruit and toast, the bubbly possessed complex flavors of strawberry, cherry and hints of peach. There were also subtle spice elements, a mild toastiness and a lengthy and satisfying finish. The body had some creaminess which didn't overwhelm the palate, and the clean and crisp flavors stood out. The tiny bubbles were refreshing and it an an excellent food wine, with everything from seafood to fried chicken, pizza to burgers.

This is a sparkling wine that is worth the price, delivering high quality, excellent taste and plenty of complexity. It is well worth the splurge.

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