Wine Down Eugene August 7-13
This has been the summer of sparkling wine. Each time I meet up with friends for lunch, frequent local wine bars, relax on my deck, or head out to some of the many stellar wineries in our area, I find myself wanting a glass of chilled bubbly more often than not – it’s crisp, refreshing and downright delicious on a hot summer day.
Ranging in style from sweet to dry (Brut), the common characteristic in all sparkling wine is bubbles. Sparkling wine goes through two fermentations: the first is for the production of the still wine (also called the base wine), and the second turns the still/base wine into a wine with bubbles. Depending on the preferred production method used by the winemaker, second fermentation can either happen in the tank (Charmat Method) or in the bottle (Champagne Method, also known as Méthode Champenoise).
Tank fermentation (Charmat Method), is quick and efficient and used to produce bulk sparkling wines that are fairly inexpensive, sometimes even under five dollars a bottle. Bottle fermentation, or Méthode Champenoise, has been used to make Champagne for hundreds of years. It’s a labor intensive and costly process that requires aging before being available in wine shops around the world; therefore, the prices are much higher than sparkling wines that are tank fermented, and can range from twenty to several hundred dollars a bottle.
From Champagne in France and Cava in Spain to Sekt in Austria and Asti in Italy, different terms for sparkling wine indicate the wine region where the sparkling wine was produced. Here in Oregon, we simply call it Oregon Sparkling Wine.
Last Friday (which is steadfastly becoming a Friday family tradition), I packed up our lawn chairs, a small cooler and a frisbee and headed out to Veneta’s Domaine Meriwether – the only local winery that focuses on sparkling wine. I knew before our arrival that I’d be ordering a bottle of Domaine Meriwether Non Vintage Discovery Cuvee Brut – one of my favorite sparkling wines. With a view of the Coastal Range foothills and live music each Friday, there’s no better place to enjoy a glass of fresh, crisp, delicious bubbles. Made using Méthode Champenoise, the Discovery Cuvee is a steal at just $24 dollars a bottle.
With family in town visiting from Arizona, we celebrated their arrival with popping the corks on two other divine Oregon Sparkling Wines: R. Stuart Rosé D’ Or Non Vintage Brut and Sokol Blosser Evolution Sparkling Wine. Each was produced using Méthode Champenoise, and coincidentally, they were both produced by winemaker Rob Stuart of R. Stuart & Company. While the Evolution’s fruits are boisterous, forward and fun, the Rosé D’ Or’s fruits are mellow and subtle with loads of finesse. Both are equally delicious and end with clean, crisp and refreshingly dry characteristics. Just like Domaine Meriwether’s Discovery Cuvee, both are a steal at $35 dollars for the Rosé D’ Or and $20 for the Evolution.
As Oscar Wilde once said (which is also on the back label of the Rosé D’ Or), “Only people with no imagination can’t find a good reason to drink Champagne.”