2002 Argyle Extended Tirage

Year: 2002
Appellation: Willamette Valley
Country: USA - Oregon
Wine Spectator: 96
Wine Advocate: 94
Sparkling Wine
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"The definition of finesse, with a succulent, complex mouthful of lemon peel, oatmeal and subtle pear and apple flavors that soar through the elegant finish. The fine bead" (WS)

"Like previous and future instances of this genre at this address, Argyle’s 2002 Brut Extended Tirage represents the exact same cuvee as their 2002 Brut, except re-released after enjoying seven additional years sur latte. The effect is of enhanced complexity and sensuality I suspect most tasters will, like me, deem it worth paying slightly more than twice the price of the current vintage brut release. “I got really pissed off at some point,” says Soles about the origins of this cuvee, “and the point was to show the world that – you know what? – we can age sparkling wine in the Willamette Valley.” A smoky hint of lees autolysis along with hazelnut and walnut oil piquantly add to the apple, pear, quince, and liquid honeysuckle perfume familiar from younger disgorgements of Argyle Brut, with yeast, vanilla, frangipane and hints of caramel adding a delightful finishing nod in the direction of patisserie. Subtly creamy and infused with an at once caressingly and stimulatingly fine mousse, this retains more than enough primary juiciness to remain (profoundly) refreshing. The adeptly-judged dosage here is ten grams of residual sugar, unsurprisingly a bit less than that with which “the same” wine was outfitted for its maiden voyage. No doubt this can be followed with pleasure for several post-disgorgement years. Had somebody suggested to me, incidentally, that this was a hitherto unknown late-disgorged sparkling Vouvray, I’m not sure I would have doubted them.

Specializing in sparkling wine since its 1987 inception, Argyle has gone from strength to strength in that department under the direction of founding winemaker Rollin Soles (who trained originally as a microbiologist). The program here also incorporates a vast array of (by local standards) relatively high-volume still wines. Already large – and controlling the Knudsen and Stoller Vineyards – Argyle undertook a major expansion in 1996 by purchasing the 160 acre Lone Star Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills. “I never make wine by a recipe,” relates Soles, and with his sparklers that applies not only to their ratios of Pinot Noir to Chardonnay and their dosage; it also applies to the levels of sugar at which fruit is picked, which can vary considerably. These are in any event consistently higher than one would encounter in Champagne, but even though finished alcohol typically centers on 13%, the wines exhibit no lack of levity. Soles gives his still Pinots an extended cold soak; generally inoculates, while trying to let the indigenous yeasts first have some say; extracts via punch-downs; and isn’t afraid to allow post-fermentative cap contact if he decides (as he usually does) that a wine will benefit. (Some excellent Pinots that Soles crafts under his own Roco label including from his own vineyard are covered in the on-line second part of this report.) Awkwardly lactic notes and/or what I like to call “memories of high malic” – not to mention sheer simplicity – dampened enthusiasm for those Argyle Chardonnays I tasted; an off-dry Argyle Riesling from their Lone Star Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills was canned fruit in character; musky; prematurely (as I see it) petrol-laced; and faintly metallic in finish, as was its sweeter (arguably overly-so) version dubbed “Nusshaus.” Many of the still wines here are given nicknames. The most prevalent of these – Nuthouse and Spirithouse – refer to past uses of the old buildings that serve as winery facilities in “downtown” Dundee, the latter designation picking out the more expensive cuvee of a given variety, though the word “reserve,” confusingly, gets used sometimes along with and sometimes in lieu of the aforementioned nickname." (WA)

Winery Notes:
Only time can bring out the depth of flavors and aromas that our Extended Tirage develops. In this 2002 vintage Extended Tirage, the nose has delicate layers of cut pear, shortbread cookie, flan, persimmon, quince, and funnel cake. Despite being ten years in the bottle, this wine is delightfully fresh and there is no shortage of glorious bubbles welcoming flavors of crisp red pear, straw notes and crusty baguette. The wine’s natural acidity brings a fresh crispness that magically melts and somehow goes creamy on the wine’s long finish. The 2002 Extended Tirage is another example of a wine that has taken a decade to craft, but the wait has been well worth it.