Texas native Rollin Soles is not your average winemaker. First of all, he began his winemaking journey in Switzerland, on steep vineyards at the foot of the Alps. Then he set his sights on producing wines in Oregon, well before the state was known as a winemaking powerhouse.
Rollin believes that, “if you love where you live, you will nurture the land and make the best wines the land can produce.” His vision was embodied in 1987 when he co-founded Argyle Winery in the beautifully sculpted Willamette Valley in the northwestern region of Oregon. And from the beginning, Argyle has been dedicated to practicing sustainable agriculture and ecological stewardship.
Rollin’s philosophy has paid off. His sparkling wines continue to set the standard for domestic bubbly, and Argyle’s still wine collection of riesling, chardonnay and pinot noir represent some of the best values in Oregon.
Rollin has a passion for proving that Oregon can make top notch sparkling wines. His mission is accomplished with the 2008 Argyle Brut, a blend of pinot noir and chardonnay from the Knudsen and Lone Star Vineyards in Willamette Valley. The fine bubbles carry scents of pear, apple, vanilla and yeasty bread on the bouquet. The beautifully balanced wine displays precisely delineated flavors of ripe pear and apricot. The citrus-centric finish is delicate and crisp, and the touch of toasted brioche adds a nice layer of richness. $27
The term “Nuthouse” originated from Argyle winery’s origin as a hazelnut processing plant. The 2008 Argyle Nuthouse Chardonnay actually has a prominent nose featuring hazelnuts along with peach and pear scents. The creamy mouthfeel is filled with flavors of pear, green melon and white peach up front and notes of baking spices on the crisp finish. $33
The entry level 2010 Argyle Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is actually a cuvee from some of Willamette Valley’s finest vineyards, including Lone Star, Stoller, and Knudsen. The nose features dark strawberries and ripe black cherries while the palate reveals flavors of dark raspberries, cherries and red plums. The medium-bodied frame is well balanced and has enough acidity to hold the flavors together on the earthy finish. $25
Moving a notch up the pinot scale is Rollin’s 2009 Argyle Reserve Pinot Noir which combines finesse with muscle. Scents of spice box, cinnamon and cedar fill out the nose. Flavors of dark cherries, plums and ripe strawberries soak the front and mid palate while lovely earthy notes of black tea fill in the superbly balanced finish. The touch of mineral-oriented black cherry on the back of the tongue definitely leaves a powerful impression. $40
Legend has it that the spirit of Lena Elsie Imus, who died by her own hand in 1908 in the former Dundee City Hall building, still roams the halls of what is now the tasting room for Argyle Winery. I don’t know about ghosts, but the 2008 Argyle Spirithouse Pinot Noir is frightfully good, with aromas of cedar wood, cigar humidor and spice box. The wine unfolds in layers on the tongue, beginning with dark plum up front, luscious red cherries in the middle and ending with a dominant mark of wild red berries. Notes of vanilla, bramble and earthy nuances highlight the charming, lush finish. $75