Sweet and Sparkling

Have your dessert and drink it, too

By Karl Klooster

When conducting a tasting that transitions from bodaciously bubbly to succulently sweet, it takes some effort to maintain attention on the original intention. But juxtaposing the one style against the other serves as a reminder that the spectrum of wines is wide and varied.

Oregon isn’t widely known for sparkling wine, and among the few that tackle the time-consuming task, Argyle is the only player of any size.

Though the Dundee/Newberg winery has shown it can hold its own, even rise to the top, in a highly competitive field, there are only so many bottles of Argyle bubbly to spread around a mighty marketplace.

Be that as it may, quality always counts and four of this month’s sparkling contenders impressed the panel enough to become Value Picks.

On the sweet side, a significant number of Oregon wineries are producing dessert wines. They range from lighter aperitif styles to big, bold Port-style wines and a whole lot of other sweet treats in between.

Several of them made the scene for us taste-wise as seen in the following recommendations that should add to the pleasure of fructose favoring aficionados. Regrettably, some of them were made in minuscule quantities.

2011 Argyle Vintage Brut Growers Series  

An immediately enticing, floral aroma leads to a full, dry mouth impression with undercurrents of earthiness beneath flavors of grapefruit, orange zest and fresh-cut grass. Persistent, fine-bubbled effervescence throughout. $27; 13,750 cases

NV Gresser Méthode Champenoise Brut       

Lively bubbles and a yeasty backdrop complement nicely balanced flavors of pineapple and pecan. A tart tang tinged with flint creates an oyster-friendly taste impression. $25; 75 cases

2013 Provincial Vineyards Estate Sparkling Pinot Gris 

Bone dry and crisply clean on the palate with hints of fresh pear and tart green apple bolstered by bubbles and a hint of macadamia nut in the finish. $29; 35 cases

2012 Tualatin Valley Semi-Sparkling Muscat Frizzanté 

Spice and stone fruit-flavored honeysuckle gives distinction to a super-sweet semi-sparkler with enough acidity to stay in balance and deliver a hint of candied pineapple in the finish. $19; 1,747 cases

NV Van Duzer Zephyra Semi-sweet Wine  

Sipping appeal describes this beautifully balanced, sweet but lively wine whose well nuanced flavors include mandarin orange, tangerine and cranberry. $30; 98 cases

2012 Brooks Estate Tethys Eola-Amity Hills Riesling      

While Brooks is known for championing Riesling, their dessert version is viscous, rich and gorgeously golden with a nose of rose and full, fruity flavors of raisins, dates, butter and honey. In short, dessert in a bottle. $25; 250 cases

2013 Wine Fauve Dessert Style Chardonnay  

A new winery with old roots offers up an unusual wine whose intensely rich, viscous flavors grabbed everyone’s attention. Mouth-filling with Honey Crisp apple flavor. Even the bottle shape is unusually chubby. $25; 25 cases

2012 Armonéa Dundee Hills Late Harvest Riesling     

An intriguing entry from Wine Country Farm Estate. Buttery, toasty, syrupy, very sweet, but well-balanced. Label states 14.5 percent residual sugar. $30; 88 cases

2013 Owen Roe Yakima Valley The Parting Glass   

A rare, individual vineyard ice wine from the Gewürztraminer varietal. Banana, strawberry, Turbinado cane sugar and a hint of straw. This really is dessert all by itself. $24; 115 cases

2012 Eola Hills Late Harvest Gewürztraminer 

The Alsatians would take notice of this very varietal Gewürz. A harmonious blend of caramel, baked apple and butterscotch wrapped in spicy intensity. $20; 250 cases

2008 Eola Hills LBV Port-style Wine   

LBV, late-bottled vintage, lives up to its name in a rush of intensely intriguing, flavors Cabernet Sauvignon is the wine, but the noble variety serves as a vehicle for what could easily be mistaken for a Tawny. Milk chocolate, orange zest, butterscotch, dried fruit, all contribute to an amazingly engaging whole. $30; 250 cases

2010 Slagle Creek PINI Red Dessert Wine 

An equal percentage of Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon combine to make a very heady, very Oporto-style wine. Concentrated flavors of maple, mesquite and dried figs. Alcohol noticeable but aging will remove the edge and harmonize a wine whose already praiseworthy character will only improve with time. $18; 350 cases

The Oregon Wine Press tasting panel has selected the following wines based on overall quality and value within their respective categories. To the best of our knowledge, they are currently available in the marketplace. Wine must be: 1) produced by an Oregon winery; 2) priced (retail) $30 or less for reds, $30 or less for Chardonnay, $30 or less for dessert and sparkling wines, and $25 or less for remaining varietals; and 3) currently available to consumers. Recommended wines were selected using a double-blind method and a 20-point ranking system for appearance, aroma, taste, balance and finish.



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