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My Latest in Oregon Wine Press: Base Instincts

By L.m. Archer @lmarcherml

My Latest in Oregon Wine Press:

Base Instincts

L.M. Archer discovered the secrets to crafting and blending the base wines of Oregon's artisan sparkling wine makers.

by L.M. Archer

Ever wonder how bubbles get into that bottle of bubbly? Some say it starts with the base wines, or vins clairs, as they are referred to in Champagne. Like the canvas on which an artist paints, these base wines provide the starting point for the creation of sparkling wine.

“Tasting the vins clairs,” says Luisa Ponzi of Ponzi Vineyards, who made her first sparkling in 1996, but did not initiate her current program in earnest until 2013, “are evaluations, really, making sure the wines are where we want them now and imagining how they will evolve and develop over time.”

Fruit First

Yet base wines are only as good as their fruit. While production methods and styles may vary, Oregon sparkling winemakers all share a common belief: Great bubbles start in the vineyard. “When you look at all of the places to grow grapes in the United States,” says Adam Campbell of Elk Cove Vineyards, a pioneering family estate planted in the ’70s near Gaston, “Oregon should be top of the list for the right climate for doing this kind of work.”

Considered a cool-climate wine region, Oregon boasts a plethora of high-elevation microclimates suited to yielding grapes with high acid, low sugar and low phenolics necessary for crafting sparkling wine. “Site is particularly important for our program in building a single-vineyard base wine,” says Chris Williams of Brooks Wines, recognized for its Biodynamic Riesling program in the Eola-Amity Hills. ”We’re looking for vines that ripen fruit with low pH and high acidity, while still showcasing lots of varietal and site character. For us, this has meant working with an old-vine site planted in volcanic soils that benefits both from elevation and wind impact.” READ MORE HERE.

Read my prequel “Bubbling Brew: Sparkling Bewitches Oregon Industry” in Oregon Wine Press here. 

More questions about Oregon sparking wine? Feel free to leave your comments below!

Copyrighted 2019 L.M. Archer LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Posted in Oregon Wine Sparkling wine Willamette ValleyTagged base wines Vins Clairs

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