Argyle Winery: Wine of the Month

What image comes to mind when you hear “Argyle?” Socks, maybe a sweater? The various colored, diamond pattern is quite discernable, and can be traced back to the tartan of a Scottish clan. Without a doubt, the classic pattern has withstood the test of time.

When famed Australian winemaker Brian Croser and Texan Rollin Soles joined forces in 1987 to build a winery in the Willamette Valley, they had numerous, yet a couple of requirements, for a name: “They wanted a name that was reflective of quality,” says Cathy Martin, spokesman for Argyle Winery. “There is a diamond mine in Australia with the name Argyle. Brian and Rollin figured that was a good image to shoot for, and that is where the diamond logo associated with Argyle came from.” Cathy continues, “They also wanted a name that would fit into the Scottish sounding town of Dundee.” Thus the wine brand Argyle was born.

Their approach worked – the diamond is still used in their branding today, and the foundational community mindset, by aspiring to contribute to the local area, is still an integral part of the culture at Argyle 28 years later.

Just as the history of the Argyle pattern has a rich and lasting history, so does the new world winery: co-founder Brian Croser is an Australian winemaking legend and one of the most famous figures in the wine world. He founded Petaluma winery in the 1970s, and one of his contributions to the industry was his advocation for what’s called “reductive wine making,” which is especially important for making white wines: by using stainless steel, inert gases and temperature control, fruit flavors are preserved, by protecting the must (the freshly pressed juice containing the skins, seeds, and stems) and evolving wine from oxygen exposure. This is one of the reasons for the success of the Australian wine industry in the 1980s.

Croser joined forces with a Petaluma co-worker, Texan Rollin Soles, to stake a claim in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The winery was created to make cool climate sparkling wine, today also produces Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Riesling.

Argyle has earned an international reputation for producing world-class methode champenoise sparkling wine, silky-textured pinot noir, and barrel-fermented chardonnay. Argyle is the only winery to have reached the Wine Spectator Top 100 for white, red and sparkling wines. It’s also the new world’s highest rated sparkling wine producer.

Argyle farms 400 acres in two of the 16 Oregon AVAs. The Knudsen Vineyard is located in the Dundee Hills; while Lone Star and Spirit Hill Vineyards are located a little further south in the Eola-Amity Hills AVAs. All grapes are hand harvested into small baskets and transported to the winery. Grapes are chilled overnight before crushing, to preserve the ripe fruit characteristics and naturally limit oxidation.

El Gaucho Portland is proud to feature four special wines under the Argyle label for the month of February:

2011 Argyle Brut, 90 Points, Wine Spectator. Tasting notes indicate the bright acidity lends itself to a long, energetic finish, “begging for oysters.” El Gaucho is currently offering Brookside and Shigoku oysters on the half shell, for a match made in heaven.

2012 Nuthouse Chardonnay – “brings dreams of char-grilled crustaceans and blackened squid.” Pair it with the expertly grilled Hawaiian Mahi Mahi with Citrus Segments and Beurre Blanc from El Gaucho’s fresh sheet.

2013 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir – “an honest interpretation of the Willamette Valley.” This wine’s refreshing acidity cuts through even our heartiest dishes. Try it with El Gaucho’s Estancia Grass Fed Filet Mignon with Bordelaise sauce or our Frenched Rib Chop.

2012 Reserve Pinot Noir, 92 Points, Wine Spectator. The gorgeous, clean fruit and silky texture make it perfect to share with our classic center cut Chateaubriand and cliff sauce. “A true celebration in balance.”

The Argyle story includes a relentless pursuit of the finest red, white and sparkling wines, and El Gaucho is proud to offer these fine wines on our list.

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