This article originally appeared in Robb Report.
With home runs in the books for Pinot Noir and (more recently) Chardonnay, Oregon wine producers should long ago have put them together to make top-notch sparkling wine, the exquisite marriage of the two main grapes in Champagne and California bubbly. One would think. But they (mostly) didn’t, until very, very recently.
The “mostly” in that last sentence refers to Rollin Soles, who actually did place a bet on sparkling wine in the Willamette Valley when he launched Argyle in 1987 and released his first Brut in 1990. All the signs were there, he says, for spectacular bubbly. “Like Champagne, we cannot ripen warm-climate varieties (Cab, Merlot and the like) and we cannot ripen on valley floors. But bloom comes on average at summer solstice—later than in most other New World sparkling regions—giving us the chance to pick Pinot and Chardonnay with ripe fruit flavors without losing high natural acidity.”
Soles reports that his first base wines were spectacular. On tasting them, he says, “Christian Bizot, chairman of Bollinger, declared he believed this was the first region to make sparkling wines with the potential to age as well as Champagne.”