2012 Gruet Blanc de Blancs

Winery

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.

Wine

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.

Winemaking

Only free-run or very lightly pressed juice was used for this sparkling wine. After the fermentation in stainless steel tanks was complete, the wine was bottled with small amount of sugar and yeast (the tirage) added to start the second fermentation. The wine aged en tirage for a minimum of 36 months, during which time the dead yeast inside the bottles added a range of complex flavors to the wine. At the end, the bottles were disgorged (the lees removed) and prepared for shipping.

Tasting notes

Aromas of sweet apple, pear and citrus are as abundant as the myriad silky bubbles. Flavors of honey, pear and lemon tart give way to accents of roasted almonds and minerals on the long and lingering finish. With a creamy texture, the wine is elegant, dry and crisp.

Appellation

America

Varietal

100% Chardonnay

Size

750ml

Closure

Cork

Alcohol

12.0%

MLF

0%

UPC

701253009993