Great value with a touch of granola, Secret
House's owners host incredibly popular music events at their winery during
the quintessentially "Old Hippster" Oregon Country
Fair, and their Summer Solstice Celebration brings out the tie-dyed
teeshirts and Celtic music.
Patti and Ron Chappel have a wonderfully bountious
nature and the success of their events, and the continued success
of their winery as a local
favorite, have lots to do with their generosity of spirit and wholehearted
love of grape growing and winemaking.
Since 1972, Patti and Ron have
made several sparkling wines and a range of still wines from their
Estate vineyard. Located only 44 miles from the Pacific, the vineyard
produces highly flavored, excellent quality grapes for sparkling wines.
Yield is usually under 2 tons per acre, and the stress of cool nights
and the clay based soils result in lots of complex flavors in the grapes.
Red Silk NV $16/$14.39 is Secret
House's dry Rosé, a
crisp sparkler made with 100% Pinot noir, is has a lovely hint of strawberry
nose, with dry flavors of cherry, berry, and plum. It's remininscent
of a dry Rosé from Southern France, with a sparkling feature
Northern Silk Brut 1994 $16/$14.39 has
dry, complex flavors. Ron has made
wine for many years, and the experienced
winemaking shows. Consistently a favorite for weddings at our store.
Traditional blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier grapes
with a hint of smooth creaminess to please the American palate.
Jack Bagdade refined his knowledge
of sparkling wines as the founcer of Seattle's well known Pike & Western
Wine Merchants, after a career in medicine. He took over ten years
together the best combination of grapes and winemaker, hiring Jean-Louis
Denois, a sixth generation grower from Cumieres, a village to the north
and west of Epernay in the Vallee de la Marne area of Champagne.
The grapes were found in Oregon's Willamette Valley, and 1991 saw the
beginnings of Domaine Meriwether.
Because vintage sparkling wines can take years
to age, Domaine Meriwether's wines did not start appearing on the market
until late 2002. The current vintage of the better sparklers is 1998,
with a non-vintage "Discovery Cuvee", also made in 1998, disgorged
The Domaine Meriwether Cuvee
Discovery NV $15/$13.50 is
one of the great value wines in Oregon, sparkling or still. At about
$15 a bottle, the wine shows the skill of its French winemaker. Made
from 60% Oregon Pinot noir and 40% Oregon Chardonnay, the wine is comparable
to sparklers that cost twice the price. We highly recommend this wine
when a lovely sparkler is needed on a budget.
Domaine Meriwether also makes three vintage sparklers,
the best of which, in Avalon's opinion, being the Thomas Jefferson
Cuvee Prestige 98 $29.75/$26.77. At under $30, it offers a
lot of the sophistication of French Champagnes, with complex flavors
toast, and very fine, longlasting bubbles.
You can read more about Domaine Meriwether and
the wines, many of which are named after people associated with the
fascinating Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1805 here: Domaine
Domaine Ste Michelle
In an article about small wineries making sparkling
wines, Domaine Ste Michelle, part of the huge Ste Michelle Wine Estates
group in Washington State, may be considered an odd choice. But the
winery has produced a limited amount of a vintage sparkler that is
only available in the pacific Northwest, and it's creating something
of a stir.
LUXE 98 $22/$19.79 is an example of how a large
winery, when they want to, have advantages that allow them to make
exceptional wines at reasonable prices. Chateau Ste Michelle is so
well known for their high rated still wines at prices well below similarly
rated wines, it's exciting to see them apply the same philosophy to
LUXE 98 is 100% Chardonnay, made from Heily Vineyard
grapes that the winemaker was able to choose from among the thousands
belonging to CSM. The wine has lots of delicate complexity in the scent
and flavors, with lemon and lime blossom,
both. A hint of fresh banana in the finish is quite pleasant, and intermingles
with butterscotch, brown sugar, and hazelnut notes. The wine is reminiscent
of the wines of Roederer, which makes sense, as winemaker Rick
Casquerio was assisted by consulting winemaker
Michel Salgues, formerly (and famously) winemaker at Roederer.
Whether DSM will continue to produce vintage
sparklers is not clear. but while it's available, this wine is a great
How to Open a Bottle of Sparkling
Message in a Bottle:
Hold bottle angled away from you. Make sure it’s not pointed at anyone
else, a window or at a light fixture.
Let's Twist Again!
Carefully pull off the foil. Keep a protective hand over the exposed cork beneath
to prevent it from flying out prematurely. If there is a wire over the cork,
gently untwist and remove it. Keeping a firm grip on the cork with one hand,
twist the bottle (as opposed to the cork) gently with the other hand, while
also trying to pull the bottle away from the cork. Cork and bottle should part
company with the merest hint of a pop.
A Word to the Wise:
Another option for those of a cautious disposition: wrap a linen napkin around
the the neck of the bottle before easing out the cork; this should all but
eliminate the risk of sending the cork into orbit.
All Shook Up?
We hope not! To preserve those precious bubbles and prevent a sparkling wine
from frothing over the top of a glass, pour no more than an inch of wine into
each glass. As the froth subsides, go round a second time, topping up the glasses.
The most elegant way to hold a sparkling wine
bottle as you pour is to place your thumb inside the "punt" (hollow
area at base of bottle) and extend your fingers around the bottle,
without obscuring the label. Until the bottle is entirely empty of
its contents, keep it well chilled in an ice bucket by the table.
Ever wondered how to conserve the fresh taste
and bubbles of a half-full bottle of sparkling wine?
An old bartenders’ trick is to leave the handle of a silver spoon in
the bottle before storing it on the refrigerator shelf.
No matter where you are, a toast is never out
of place and always a fun part of the ritual of taking that first sip
of sparkling wine.
Czech: Na Zdravi (Na zdrah vi) To Your Health
French: A Votre Sante! (Ah Vot-ruh Sahn-tay) To Your Health!
German: Prosit! (Proh-sit) Cheers!
Greek: Stin Eyiassou! (Stin Eye-ee-yass-ooh) To Your Health!
Hebrew: L'Chaim! (Le Hy-em) To Life!
Hungarian: Le! Le! Le! Egeszsegere (Lay Lay Lay Egg-esh Ay-ged-reh) Down! Down!
Down! To your health!
Italian: Cin! Cin! (Chin Chin) Cheers!
Japanese: Kampai! (Kam-pie) To an empty glass!
Mandarin: Gan bei! (Gan Bay) To an empty glass!
Polish: Na zdrowie! (Naz-droh-vee-ay) To your health!
Portuguese: Saude (Sow-ooh-jee) Cheers!
Russian: Zdorovie (Zdo-ro-vee) To your health!
Serbo-Croat: Ziveli! (Zhi-vol-ee) To Life!
Spanish: Salud! (Sah-lud) To your health!
Swedish: Skal! (Skoll) Cheers!
Yiddish: Zei Gazunt! (Zye Gah-zoont) To your health!
Summer Solstice Poster
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NW Sparkling Wines
to Sparkling Wine
by Jim LaMar
is the Season
Domaine Meriwether Sparklers
NW Sparkling Wines