Gruet

A little sparkle from New Mexico

One doesn’t need to know much about the French to grasp how remarkable it was for a Frenchman, the proud owner of a Champagne house, to look across the high desert near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, about 150 miles south of Albuquerque, and imagine vineyards producing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for sparkling wine. Such foresight would have been remarkable in any winemaker; after all, while New Mexico did have a burgeoning wine industry in the 19th century, it had been entirely wiped out for three quarters of a century and was just getting restarted in 1983, when Gilbert Gruet and his family stopped to taste some local wines while touring the southwest on vacation. Where most people would have seen barren desert, M. Gruet saw potential: in the 4,000 foot elevation, where cold nights can extend the growing season; in the lack of humidity that causes mildew and requires winemakers to spray their vineyards with fungicides; and in the dry, sandy soils that would provide not only excellent drainage (and therefore, “stress” the vines) but protection from such pests as the dreaded phylloxera. In 1984, Gruet’s children, Laurent and Nathalie, relocated to New Mexico, planted a vineyard, and by 1989 released the first Gruet Brut N.V., and Gruet Brut Blanc de Noirs N.V. to great acclaim.  Today Gruet produces over 100,000 cases of sparkling wine per year at the winery in Albuquerque from the grapes grown near Truth or Consequences in the south. These wines are produced according to the Methode Champenoise, a traditional and natural process of making sparkling wine. When the fermentation of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines is complete, the blends of the two grapes are assembled. Just before bottling, a little yeast and sugar is added to the wine so that a second fermentation occurs inside each bottle. Because the bottles are capped tight, the carbon dioxide has no place to go and the wine is transformed into a magical elixir – so light, delicate and bubbly. Unlike still wines, sparkling wines are difficult to produce in a small-scale, artisan kind of way. The process is labor intensive and requires more expensive equipment and a lot more time as the wine must be aged in bottle for at least 2 years before release. Nevertheless, Gruet Winery stands out for producing award-winning bubbly at bargain prices.

Wines from this Winery

NV Domaine St. Vincent Brut

NV Domaine St. Vincent Brut

A tight budget should never dissuade anyone from enjoying a glass of sparkling wine. And while all of Gruet’s sparkling wines offer excellent value, Gruet’s winemaker describes the St. Vincent N.V. Brut as a “budget friendly wine that encompasses all the quality and flavor that you would expect from a Gruet sparkling wine. This wine is easy to drink and very food-friendly, two pre-requisites that most wine lovers appreciate!” Like all of Gruet’s wines, the St. Vincent is made according to the Champagne method with the second fermentation occurring inside the bottle. In the glass, lively bubbles, a fine mousse and bright fruit notes of green apple and pear make for pleasant sipping before or during lunch or dinner.

Details
¥ 2,700
NV Gruet Brut

NV Gruet Brut

Because bone-dry sparkling wine has little mass appeal, a dosage of sweet liqueur is added when the bottles are disgorged and corked. Brut is the driest level of sweetness (confusingly, Sec (“dry”) is sweeter than Brut). A blend of 75% Chardonnay and 25% Pinot Noir, this sparkling wine is crisp and full-bodied and certain to spice up any meal... Sunday brunch certainly comes to mind!

Details
¥ 3,300
NV Gruet Blanc de Noirs

NV Gruet Blanc de Noirs

Though Blanc de Noirs (“white of blacks”) usually refers to wine made exclusively from dark-skinned grapes, Gruet’s Blanc de Noirs is a blend of 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay. The extraordinary vineyards as well as two years’ aging produce a wine that delights the senses: salmon color, silky bubbles, alluring aromas, and so creamy, rich and toasty.The Wine Spectator thought it so outstanding, they rated it No. 43 on their “Top 100” wines of 2011!

Details
¥ 3,500
2012 Gruet Blanc de Blancs

2012 Gruet Blanc de Blancs

In 2012, the Chardonnay in Gruet’s high elevation vineyard was excellent, an ideal year to produce a special, vintage-dated cuvée based on this variety alone. Three years of aging produced a wine that captures the essence of classic Champagne: delicate creaminess accented with subtle notes of green apples and brioche. This wine is well suited for cheese or for seafood dishes like lobster. The crisp acidity provides a satisfying compliment to fried dishes such as crab cakes, tempura or fried calamari.

Details
¥ 4,700