Oregon’s Argyle Winery continues to provide not only the best values in premium sparking wine, but wines that compete with the world’s finest on a quality basis. However, this time they have outdone themselves on both counts. The 1996 Argyle Extended Tirage Willamette Valley Sparkling Wine is both a stunning sparkling wine and a stunning bargain at $50.
Tirage is the French Champagne term that refers to the time that the wine ages in contact with the lees (the dead yeast cells) in the bottle after the second fermentation that gives sparkling wines its bubbles. This is a process that can add great depth, complexity and texture to fine sparkling wines. “Can” is the operative word here as this is a slow process and the winemaker needs to age the wines for years to attain these attributes.
What makes this wine such a bargain, in addition to its quality, is that while most big brand French Champagnes selling for the same price have not a day more of aging on the lees than the minimum required fifteen months, the Argyle Extended Tirage has been aging on the lees for a full ten years. Compare a bottle of this wine with big brand Champagne and be prepared to be stunned.
Champagne is no longer what it used to be. The rest of the world has finally not only caught, but surpassed the French.
Made from 20% pinot noir and 80% chardonnay, this wine offers great freshness and a lively frothy creaminess from the chardonnay and a rich complexity from pinot noir and extended time on the lees. Unfortunately only 584 cases were produced.