Oregon’s Best Sparklers Rated


Shortly after the last mastodon went extinct in the Yakima valley I started my wine writing adventure. Back then the Pacific Northwest wineries in Oregon, Idaho and Washington were all lumped together in the “other” category, and there was little or no differentiation among them.

Over time Oregon claimed transcendence with Pinot Noir, Washington with Cabernet, and everyone fought to establish something else – Riesling, Chardonnay, Merlot, Syrah, whatever – as theirs alone. As the number of wineries in the region has now touched the 2000 mark, the quest for such supremacy has become a bit muddled, the exceptions being (no surprise) Pinot Noir (clearly Oregon) and Cabernet/BDX blends (undoubtedly Washington). Pretty much any other variety or important blend has its worthwhile advocates and examples in both states.

One more exception is true méthode champenoise sparkling wines. In just the past decade, the number, quality and consistency of these wines has put Oregon way out in front. It’s partly because something like 200 Oregon wineries make at least a few hundred cases of Champagne-style bubbly (using some mix of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir, re-fermented in the bottle, and following all standard Champagne practices). Partly because they can out-source the most labor and time-consuming parts of the process to a central venue, the Radiant Sparkling Wine Company. And partly because a few well-funded producers, notably Domaine Serene, have built full-scale sparkling wine facilities that bring the entire process, from grape-growing to final disgorgement, in-house.

I’ve tracked these developments in Oregon from the very beginning, and was aware of the growth and success of this nascent industry. But when I put out a call for samples to both states I truly expected more and better from Washington. Just a handful of méthode champenoise sparklers from this state were submitted, and I’m not sure that many were missed. Pét-Nats, lovely though they are, are a different category entirely.

If there is a downside to Oregon’s success it is that for the most part these wines are very limited and must be purchased directly from the winery. Almost without exception they are expensive. The closer they come to embodying (not mimicking) the quality of fine Champagne, the more they will be compared to those wines in terms of price. And as a general rule, Oregon’s sparklers do not undercut entry-level Champagnes on price. Price aside, they are quite competitive, and well worth your consideration.

Here are the méthode champenoise sparkling wines that showed and scored best in my month of tastings. I list them alphabetically by producer for convenience. If you are a producer and your wine is not shown please feel free to contact me directly and I will send you my unpublished notes. If you are a producer who did not submit wines for this tasting round please send them along (weather permitting) any time this summer and fall for inclusion in my next roundup. I will also spotlight some excellent non-Champagne method fizz on a Substack post next week.

Adelsheim 2017 Bryan Creek Vineyard Sparkling Rosé

Effusive bubbles, a tawny gold color, splendid fruit and the mouthfeel of fine Champagne – this single vineyard release from Adelsheim has it all. A roughly equal blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from this high elevation estate vineyard, there’s a succulent texture, and overall the balance is spot-on. This is one of the handful of méthode champenoise wines from the Willamette Valley that truly evoke the French style. 376 6-pak cases; 12%; $75 (Chehalem Mountains) 95/100

Areté 2019 Brut Rosé

A copper/cherry color, this all-Pinot Noir wine from Iris Vineyards has a lot going for it. Hand-made and estate-grown, it’s carefully tended from vineyard management on through tirage bottling, riddling, disgorging and labeling – all done by hand at the winery. The wine is elegant and aromatic, with raspberry fruit at the core. There’s a fine bead and good balance. At this price it’s a standout value among its Oregon peers. 180 cases; 12.1%; $34 (Willamette Valley) 91/100

Corollary 2019 Cuvée One Extra Brut

From a dedicated sparkling wine-only producer, this blend is two thirds Chardonnay, one quarter Pinot Noir and the rest Pinot Blanc. The contributing vineyards are an all-star crew including X-Omni, Cattrall Brothers and Winter’s Hill. This wine does not shy away from showing its fruit, a mix of pear, peach and melon, nicely blended and supported with ample acidity. The separate base wines were left on the lees for nine months prior to blending for secondary fermentation. It’s a bold, fruity wine with a long, clean, tart and immaculately fresh finish. 191 cases; 12.5%; $45 (Willamette Valley) 92/100

Corollary 2019 Cuvée One Rosé Extra Brut

This is a pretty copper-colored wine presented in a frosted glass bottle. The blend is 55% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Gris. It’s fruit-driven, with a burst of cranberry sauce and cherry candy in the center. The crisp acids frame the fruit with citrus rind, adding a touch of mineral along the way. The finish extends gracefully with no off notes. 161 cases; 12.6%; $55 (Willamette Valley) 92/100

Corollary 2019 Momtazi Vineyard Extra Brut Carbonic Rosé

Calling this a “carbonic” rosé, the winery notes that the Pinot Noir clusters were left to ferment naturally for nine days prior to being foot-crushed. That plus the vineyard’s biodynamic viticulture adds subtle grace notes to the flavors, hints of herb and earth and underbrush. The fruit brings a blend of orange, tangerine and pink grapefruit, highlighted with tart acids. 94 cases; 12.1%; $65 (McMinnville) 93/100

Corollary 2018 Winter’s Hill Vineyard Pinot Blanc Sparkling Wine

This single vineyard, single grape expression puts forward a strong case for making méthode champenoise wines from this rarely used – though allowed in true Champagne – variety. Tart, bracing and bursting with citrus fruit, this is a lip-smacking style which clearly puts a new world shine on an old world wine. It’s bubbly for acid-lovers (and I am one) with a lemony kick that begs for fresh oysters (and skip the mignonette please). 65 cases; 11.4%; $60 (Dundee Hills) 92/100

Corollary 2018 Namaste Vineyard Brut

Three quarters old vine Chardonnay, one quarter old vine Pinot Noir, this distinctive wine has a black pepper note that rings across the palate. It’s precise, deep and racy, with touches of candied pineapple, ginger and Meyer lemon. The length and intensity are of particular note, and this very young wine is the one to cellar for a decade or more. 81 cases; 11.4%; $60 (Van Duzer Corridor) 93/100

Corollary 2018 X-Omni Vineyard Blanc de Blancs

From a top vineyard in this Chardonnay-centric AVA, this exceptional all-Chardonnay bubbly deserves the center ring in the Corollary portfolio. I love the purity, the power and the precision of this wine. Fermented in neutral oak, left on the lees for six months, then re-fermented en tirage for three and a half years, this expressive wine is as close the Champagne as you can find in Oregon. Pay attention to the finish, which lingers and keeps adding nuances and details all the way through. 96 cases; 11.4%; $60 (Eola-Amity Hills) 94/100 

Dion 2019 Marie Grace Blanc de Blanc

Estate-grown Chardonnay, done in the traditional Champagne method, highlights this exemplary wine. It’s lively with a deep spiciness, tangy citrus, crisp apple and subtle notes of vanilla wafer. As with fine Champagne, the depth of flavor even in such a young wine suggests it will age for decades. 12.5%; (Laurelwood District) 94/100

Domaine Divio 2019 Crémant Vintage Brut

This excellent, Champagne method Brut is made from Hyland vineyard Chardonnay planted in 1981. Disgorged last November, it’s young, tart, subtle, elegant and lively. Flavors of crisp green apple abound, with lime and oyster shell highlights. Drink it chilled to bring up the minerality, or let it warm to emphasize the fruit. 90 cases; 12.8%; $70 (Willamette Valley) 93/100 

Domaine Divio 2016 Crémant Pinot Noir Rosé Extended Tirage

Dark sunset hue, Coury clone Pinot sourced from the Hyland vineyard. Still young, tight, with light strawberry fruit. A beautiful wine to contemplate, with concentrated power, fine bead and lightly spicy. The finish is clean and persistent. 120 cases; 12.5%; $85 (Willamette Valley) 92/100

Domaine Serene Evenstad Reserve M.V. 4 Sparkling Wine

The winery indicates which edition of its non-vintage (M.V. stands for multi-vintage) sparkling wines with a number on the neck label – here M.V. 4. An elegant wine made with estate-grown Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, this cements Domaine Serene’s place at the top with the very finest producers of méthode champenoise sparkling wines on the west coast. The finesse, detail, complexity and dynamism of this wine do indeed compare to fine Champagne, yet put a new world stamp on the fruit, the ripeness and the overall power through the finish. Barrel aging prior to second fermentation brings nuanced notes of pastry and lightly toasted almonds around a core of fresh cut pears. 12.5%; $85 (Dundee Hills) 94/100

Domaine Serene 2014 Evenstad Vintage Reserve Brut

The long-awaited release of this vintage reserve marks an important milestone for the winery’s ambitious sparkling wine program. Two thirds Pinot Noir and one third Chardonnay, all estate-grown, spent over six years en tirage. Like vintage Champagne this puts a focus on purity of expression, here further amplified by the closely related vineyard sites. Still tasting quite youthful, this offers crisp apple, steely acids and a tightly wound core. Let it warm up a bit in the glass and it will expand to reveal a range of stone fruits, biscuit, meringue and lemon zest. 12%; $110 (Dundee Hills) 95/100

Domaine Serene Evenstad Reserve Brut Rosé M.V. 4 Sparkling Wine

Hewing close to the Champagne practice of introducing reserve wines into their non-vintage brut, this wine includes 10% reserves along with balanced Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the 2017 vintage. Barrel aged for eight months, then kept en tirage for several years. A pale copper hue, this hints at strawberry cream but vibrates with lemony acidity. 1840 cases; 12.5%; $105 (Dundee Hills) 92/100

Domaine Serene 2015 Evenstad Vintage Reserve Brut Rosé

The companion to the Vintage Reserve Brut, this rosé is three quarters Pinot Noir, one quarter Chardonnay, all estate-grown. Note that the two wines are from different vintages, A lush copper color, this complex wine finesses scents and flavors of mountain strawberries, watermelon, Key lime, lemon meringue and more. The exceptional depth and ripeness of the vintage is well expressed here, with a lively tartness lifting the flavors through a lingering finish. 12% $125 (Dundee Hills) 93/100

Irvine & Roberts 2018 Brut Cuvée

The winery is anchored in the Rogue Valley, where these estate grapes were grown. It’s their first sparkling wine, a classic blend of 62% Pinot Noir, 23% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Meunier. The high elevation (2100 feet) site would seems well-suited to growing grapes for sparkling wines, for which these were specifically farmed. A fine bead and precise, tightly focused flavors confirm this is done in a tart, elegant style. Apple, melon, cucumber, citrus and stone flavors abound, with a full mid-palate. It’s fresh and spicy, bold and lingering. 145 cases; 12.5%; $100 (Rogue Valley) 92/100

Lundeen NV Brut

This méthode champenoise wine is 60% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Gris. In keeping with traditional Champagne practices the base wine includes reserve Chardonnay from past vintages. This is a stylish effort, with good detail and penetration. It was barrel fermented and light touches of barrel toast add further complexity to the finished wine. Less expensive than many comparable wines from the Willamette. 330 cases; 12.7%; $40 (Willamette Valley) 91/100

Lundeen NV Brut Reserve

Lundeen’s top bubbly is a 60/40 Pinot Noir/Chardonnay blend, with one quarter of the base wine comprised of reserves dating back to 2012. It’s a solid effort making a run at a true Champagne style. Toasty with a fine bead and excellent concentration, this certainly merits the reserve designation given the quality. 80 cases; 12.8%; $60 (Willamette Valley) 93/100

Nysa 2017 Blanc de Noir

This sparkling Pinot Noir is the first bubbly from this well-respected Dundee Hills vineyard. Released after five years en tirage, it’s got a fine bead and the clean, ultra-fresh mouthfeel underscores the care and attention lavished upon it. Citrus, celery, apple and wet stone flavors cascade across and down through the palate. The wine lingers and finishes crisp and clean. Congratulations to Michael Mega and the team at Nysa who produced this outstanding debut. 125 cases; 11.5%; $85 (Dundee Hills) 92/100

Raptor Ridge 2018 Estate Cuvée Sparkling Brut Rosé

This fine-tuned, all Pinot Noir méthode champenoise is a fine example of the quality sparklers being produced throughout the Willamette Valley. Pale straw, fine bead, tangy minerality, citrus flesh and rind, green apple… all you’d wish for in a fine bottle of bubbly. 364 cases; 12.5%; $55 (Chehalem Mountains) 92/100

R. Stuart NV Brut Rosé d’Or

This is principally Pinot Noir, with 20% Chardonnay. A pale copper, this offers complex flavors deftly showing nutmeg, honeysuckle, lemon meringue, white strawberries, crisp apples and on it goes. There’s good length and detail all the way through. 120 cases; 13%; $65 (Oregon) 92/100

Soter NV Estates Brut X

This is the second edition of the Brut X (noted as such on the back label), Half is from the 2018 vintage, half is reserve wine; 60% is Pinot Noir, 40% is Chardonnay, sourced from estate vineyards. This is sleek, steely, subtle and subterranean, in the sense of layer upon layer somewhat hidden at first. Compact fruit, a fine bead, a touch of brioche and more awaits discovery. One way to unpack a young sparkling wine such as this is to let it warm up in the glass, and watch it open and change. With a couple of hours of breathing time, this did indeed open gloriously. 339 cases; 12.8%; $65 (Willamette Valley) 95/100

Stoller NV Estate Brut

This multi-vintage Brut from Stoller is almost 100% Pinot Noir, straw gold and deeply flavorful. Ripe apples, citrus rind, a touch of white pepper and anise, along with its superior length, make this one of the finest values in méthode champenoise Oregon wines. A hint of ginger informs the lingering fadeout. 750 cases; 12%; $40 (Dundee Hills) 92/100

Stoller 2018 Larue’s Brut Rosé

This is 80/20 Pinot/Chardonnay, barrel fermented prior to secondary fermentation, and has benefitted with an expansive palate. Accents of dry straw, concentrated cherry fruit and a bready base last and linger through a complex and captivating finish. 420 cases; 12%; $65 (Dundee Hills) 92/100

Paul Gregutt
Paul Gregutt
Paul Gregutt has been covering the wines and wineries of the Pacific Northwest since the mid-1980s. From 2002 to 2012 he wrote a weekly wine column for the Seattle Times and authored two critically-acclaimed editions of ‘Washington Wines & Wineries – The Essential Guide’ (UC Berkeley Press). He served as the Northwest editor for Wine Enthusiast magazine from 1998 until 2022. Early on he was an original staff member of both the Seattle Weekly and KZAM-FM. He lives with his wife Karen and his rescue dog Cookie in Waitsburg (pop. 1204), a farm community about 20 miles NE of Walla Walla. When not tasting and writing about wine he writes songs, plays guitar and sings in his band the DavePaul5 (davepaul5.com) Follow his writing at PaulG on Wine, paulgregutt.substack.com, and in the Waitsburg Times.


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