‘Tis the season – two Champagne tastings last week!  Harry Root, owner of Grass Roots Wine, presented the consumer version of the grower/producer seminar I attended last month.  He provided loads of valuable information and poured 8 grogeous wines. 

I began learning about the importance of soil or “terroir” in Oregon, understanding the differences in the wines made from grapes grown in volcanic versus sedimentary soils. Chalky soil that was formed millions of years ago is the foundation for the grapes that produce Champagne.  It holds a tremendous amount of moisture and prevents the vines from suffering drought in an area that averages only 26 inches of rainfall per year, near the minimum for grape growing.  All Grand Cru and and Premier Cru designated vineyards in Champagne are within the Marne “Department” or area of Champagne.  Favorite selections from this tasting included Pehu-Simonet Verzenay Brut which is 78% Pinot Noir.  It is grown on a north-facing slope which produces an earthier wine.  I also loved the Vilmart & Cie Grand Cellier Brut that is 60% Chardonnay and aged in oak.  It reminded me of Krug Champagne the way it used to be, back in the 80’s.

The other tasting was at The Wine Shop.  Debbie presented 6 wines that included sparkling as well as Champagne.  If you are not familiar with Gruet, make it a point to try some during the holidays.  Gruet is a winery in New Mexico that was founded by a French winemaker in 1983. It is widely available and very reaonable at about $15.00.  I am especially fond of the rosé – it is such a lovely color.

Happy Holidays and á santé!