Offbeat Bubbles

Offbeat Oregon bubbles. Image: Andrea Johnson.

My latest in Oregon Wine Press:

Offbeat Bubbles

Uncorking Oregon’s Unexpected

by L.M. Archer


Offbeat Oregon bubbles. Image: Andrea Johnson.
Image: Andrea Johnson.

If you think Oregon wine revolves purely around prim Pinot Noir and straitlaced Chardonnay, guess again. The state’s winemakers may be all business up front, but there’s a party in the back, and it’s sparkling.

With an energy akin to France’s hip grower Champagne scene, Oregon’s booming bubbles business makes short work of la méthode Champenoise.

When Dom Pérignon allegedly proclaimed, “Come quickly, I’m drinking the stars!” he was referring to Champagne predominately made from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. According to wine expert Katherine Cole, author of “Sparkling Wine Anytime,” Pinot Noir and Chardonnay continue their sparkling supremacy as they both (more or less) “ripen in cooler climates and make flavorful, high-acid base wines.” She also explains how Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier are low in pigment and full of aromatics, both attributes ideal for the finest bubbles.

However, in unfettered Oregon, more and more fizz makers opt for atypical varieties, creative blends and whimsical labels that shout “Celebrate!” Meet some of these renegade sparkling producers:

1. Valcan Cellars Carmin Sparkling Malbec, Rogue Valley

“When we came out with our white Malbec, I saw a need for new wines,” said J.P. Valot of Valcan Cellars in Corvallis. “After tasting some red sparkling wines that were a little sweet, I thought I could come out with a better option if I use Malbec.”

Valot named the wine “Carmin” in honor of his sister, Natalia’s, favorite color. The key to this brilliantly hued Malbec’s success can be found in the fruit’s maturity. He intentionally picks the grapes at a similar ripeness to that of traditional sparkling varieties Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

“This is not a regular Malbec that I decided to make [into] sparkling,” Valot explained. “This is a wine that was thought and planned, since I envisioned a different kind of sparkling red.” READ FULL ARTICLE HERE.


More by L.M. Archer here.

More about L.M. Archer here.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.