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December 24th, 2013 LYLA ROWEN | Drank
 

Drank: Sparkle Party

Tiny local bubbles to fuel your first toast of 2014.

dish_champagne_4008ILLUSTRATION: August Lipp
It’s the pop that does it. Even if you spend the rest of the night drinking Scotch or mead, when the clock strikes 12 on the last night of the year, you’re going to want to loose the cork on something fizzy, pale and—if you’re like us—local.

Champagne comes only from Champagne, in Northeast France. But among Oregon’s vines, you’ll find a handful of wineries that make sparklers suitable for sipping as you search for your midnight kiss.

Some are takes on classic Champagne, some are just a little effervescent. We tested a diverse range of sparkling wine based on price and style to find a favorite. Ratings are on a 100-point scale. 


2010 Argyle Vintage Brut

Find it at New Seasons, $24

Rating: 86.7 points

Argyle’s flagship sparkling wine is made with chardonnay and pinot noir from vineyards in the Dundee Hills. This is Oregon’s go-to sparkling wine for good reason. We found it dry, citrusy and very effervescent.

Tasting notes: “Beautifully dry, like an old farmhouse cider but with thousands of tiny bubbles.” “Would be good for a first toast and a midnight toast.” “Smells like apple juice.”


2009 Argyle Brut Rosé

Find it at Zupan’s, $45

Rating: 81.1

Argyle’s fancier take on sparkles is a delicious feat, lightly balanced between 30 percent pinot meunier and 70 percent full-hipped pinot noir. Though we preferred its less expensive cousin as a sipper, Argyle’s brut rosé would hold up much better against the odd midnight snack.

Tasting notes: “Walks nicely across the palate, dry in the back then moving forward across the front.” “Becomes more complex as it warms.” “Faintly rosé—light to the point of being barely there.”


Capitello Oregon Brut

Find it at New Seasons, $28

Rating: 80.9

Originally from New Zealand, founder Ray Walsh moved to Oregon 20 years ago and now makes a wide variety of wines at his Eugene vineyard where—if its website is to be believed—wine bottles are used for target practice. Capitello brut had the most vibrant sparkle among the wines we tasted, with hearty bubbles.

Tasting notes: “Awesome.” “The more I drink, the sweeter it gets.” “Quite sparkly.” “Really nice pop.”


Sokol Blosser Evolution Sparkling Wine

Find it at New Seasons, $19

Rating: 80.7

Evolution wine is a midtier spinoff of the pioneering Sokol Blosser Winery in the Dundee Hills. If you want to stay under $20 a bottle, this is your best bet.

Tasting notes: “Tight, tiny bubbles.” “Sweet, mild flavor.” “Kinda oily.”


Wine By Joe “Joe’s Secco”

Find it at New Seasons, $15

Rating: 63.1

Joe Dobbes started his Dobbes family of wines in 2002, growing grapes on an ambitious 214-acre vineyard just west of Salem. He’s only been making sparklers since 2010, however, and some of us responded strongly to musty notes in the secco; this led to the fruits of Joe’s cellar receiving the lowest score among the non-muscat wines we tried.

Tasting notes: “Banana peel?” “Better than André, but only barely.” “Very clear color—sort of like a dirty diamond.”


2011 Tualatin Estate Semi-Sparkling Muscat Frizzanté

Find it at Fred Meyer, $16

Rating: 60.6

At 40 years old, the 200-acre Tualatin Estate Vineyards in Forest Grove is among the old guard in Oregon wineries. The semi-sparkling muscat rings in at a modest 6.5 percent ABV, and will be found in the white wine section, rather than among the sparklers. There’s no cork, sadly, which blunts the festivities a bit: It’s a screw cap.

Tasting notes: “Tastes like grape Hi-Chew candy. This is not a bad thing, but it’s also not a good thing.” “Like soda syrup, undiluted and without carbonation. I could take a shot-sized portion at dessert, no more.” “Is this made by Kern’s?”


Silvan Ridge Early Muscat Semi-Sparkling Wine

Find it at Fred Meyer, $10

Rating: 41.6

The little Silvan Ridge Winery, southwest of Eugene, prides itself on the diversity of grapes grown in its vineyards, and its willingness to experiment with different barrels and yeasts. The muscat is priced at the bottom of its assortment, however, and even at 6.8 percent ABV, the wine’s sickly sweetness feels like a hangover waiting to happen.

Tasting notes: “This is a waste of time.” “Not even bubbly.” “The flat Sprite of sparkling wines.”

 
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