What better way to celebrate the start of the new year than popping open a bottle of sparkling wine! The new year begins with a sense of hope and adventure. A glass of bubbles seems to be the perfect way to say goodbye to the past year and prepare for the upcoming year.
Sparkling wine is made in many countries, from many different grapes and comes with many different names. Champagne (France’s Champagne region), Cremant (France-anywhere other than Champagne region), Sparkling Wine (US), Cava (Spain), Prosecco (Italy), Spumante (Italy) and Sekt (Germany/ Austria) are some of the more common versions of sparkling wine.
Sparkling wine can be made by injecting a gas into still wine. But, more often sparkling wine is made by fermenting wine a second time, which creates the beautiful bubbles.
Chardonnay and pinot noir are the two most popular grapes used in making sparkling wine and are the two classic grapes used in Champagne. For this reason, it’s easy to see that Oregon has what it takes to be a powerhouse in the sparkling wine market.
Argyle, located in Dundee, is Oregon’s best known sparkling wine producer. Argyle makes a number of different sparklers, but my favorite is their Brut Rose is a beautiful salmon colored wine made mostly from Pinot Noir. This hard to find bubbly delivers creamy flavors of strawberry that makes it a perfect choice to be enjoyed by itself or with food.
Kramer Vineyards, from Gaston, makes sparkling wine from Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but my favorite is their Muller-Thurgau Celebrate. Using Muller-Thurgau as a base grape for sparkling wine is unconventional, but it works. The bubbles are delivered in a brut style, packed with flavors of apricot, apple and pear. This sparkler is great with food and is very popular with customers who aren’t looking for the creamy style of a classic sparkling wine.
Capitello Brut, made in Eugene, is another hard to find selection. Ray Walsh is one of my favorite winemakers in Oregon and I love it when he makes this bubbly. Made in a classic style, Capitello Brut is a creamy, delicious blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that stands up nicely against its competitors from Champagne.
Another favorite is Sokol Blosser Sparkling Evolution. Sokol Blosser, located in Dundee, throws all of the conventional rules out the window with this wine. Where other wineries package their sparkling wines with high end foils, labels and heavy bottles to create the image of sophistication and class, Sokol Blosser goes the other way. No foil covers the cork cage, no heavy bottle, no elegant label. Instead of focusing on fancy, Sokol Blosser’s Sparkling Evolution delivers fun. Made from a blend of about every white grape grown in Oregon, this sparkler delivers citrus, apricot and peach flavors in a crisp brut style. Delicious by itself, this sparkler is a perfect companion to sushi, salads or spicy foods.
Start the new year with a delicious bottle of Oregon bubbly. You’ll quickly learn that it’s not just for a celebration anymore. Cheers!
Please don’t drink and drive. If you think you’ve had too much bubbly, give your keys to a friend.