Argyle Brut

 Nice sparkling wines from the Willamette Valley, Oregon


Argyle Winery has been making wonderful Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays, and Sparkling wines such as Argyle Brut in Dundee, Oregon, in the Willamette Valley, since 1987. The Willamette Valley is the state's most populated region, and is in the northwest. East, west, and south are large mountain ranges, and the valley is very fertile primarily due to conditions from the last Ice Age's flood carried sediments and alluvial deposits. The climate is always mild with very little snow or days above 90 degrees Fahrenheit and the temperature is below freeing only once every 2 to 3 decades.

There are about 200 wineries in the Willamette Valley, one of them being Argyle Winery, and the valley is known worldwide for their Pinot Noir. The Dundee Hills, a sub "American Viniculture Area" or AVA ( a designated grape growing region recognized by law), where Argyle is, has approximately 25 wineries and is particularly noted for their Pinot Noir.

Argyle has 3 vineyards: The 120 acre Knudsen Vineyard which was first planted in 1972 and 1974, and the high elevation portions are large components of their Sparkling Wines. They are planted with Dijon grape clones, both old wine and newer plantings which provide higher yields. The Stoller Vineyard, to the south of Knudson, was first planted in 1995 and contains Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Lonestar Vineyard, 15 miles to the south, is mostly Dijon Clones of Pinot Noir. It was added to Argyle in 1996 and encompasses 160 acres.

Grapes are harvested by hand, chilled overnight to preserve the ripe fruit characteristics and guard against oxidation, and crushed the next day.

Argyle is also a common place name, with over a dozen in the US, many in Canada, one in Malaysia, and more, as well as being a popular pattern for socks and more. Of course we are talking about the winery here!

Along with their well known Pinot Noirs as well as Chardonnay and Riesling, they produce several Sparkling wines by the traditional Méthode Champenoise, all vintage dated.

These include the entry level Argyle Brut with a tasting note below, the Black Brut, a Blanc de Noirs entirely sourced from the Knudsen Vineyards, a Blanc de blancs also entirely sourced from the Knudsen Vineyards, an Extended Tirage Brut which routinely earns mid 90 point scores from Wine Spectator, a mainly Pinot Noir based Knudsen Vineyard Brut, and the Argyle Brut Rosé. All their sparkling wines are vintage dated.

I haven't tried these all, and although I'm not particularly an Oregon fan clearly I can recognize high quality wines from this region. I love even the entry level Argyle Brut.

Argyle Brut 2006Tasting Note: Argyle 2006 Brut
11 November 2011

Light yellow with plenty of small fine bubbles. Mostly Pinot Noir with the rest Chardonnay.

On the nose, chalk, just like a Champagne, and slightly creamy vanilla. Maybe a touch of cookie dough.

Brisk and fresh on the palate. Clean and clear, with some apple, pear, orange citrus, a touch of candied orange peel. Nice, round, and long as it warms. Appropriately sweet to balance the natural acidity. Very well balanced.

A great deal at $25-$30, and I'm not usually a West Coast Sparkler fan, but this has always impressed me.