With the Inauguration just around the corner, why not celebrate with a little sparkling wine? I say sparkling wine because only a sparkling wine from Champagne can call itself a Champagne. And since the Inauguration is a very American type of celebration, I decided to revisit one of my favorite American Sparklers, the Gruet NV Blanc de Noirs.
Gruet may sound French and for good reason, it is. But make no mistake; this is an All American wine. Gilbert Gruet began making Champagne in the early 1950’s and on a trip to the US in the early 1980’s he noted that parts of the American Southwest closely resembled his home in Champagne in terms of soil make up and climate. That’s right, the Southwest and specifically New Mexico. When thinking of world class wine regions in the US, New Mexico doesn’t typically come to mind, but when Gilbert entrusted his children with the task of making sparkling wine in the traditional Champagne style (Methode Champenoise) he put New Mexico on the world wine map in a big way.
A bit about the wine and grapes. Traditional Champagne can use three grape varieties in a blend to make the final product, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The Gruet NV Blanc de Noirs is made exclusively of Pinot Noir. The NV means non vintage which means grapes from more than one vintage are used to ensure consistency and the highest quality. The vineyards at Gruet’s property in NM are planted at 4300 feet above sea level which results in excellent flavor concentration in the fruit because of the intense sun light and extremes in temperature.
Enough of the technical, on to the fun stuff! The wine has a clean appearance in the glass with pale straw color that has a tinge of red to it because of the Pinot Noir. Two pronounced streams of small tightly formed bubbles formed in the glass. The bubbles, or mousse, indicate a fine quality wine because of their consistency and size and resulted in a nice frothy ring around the glass. The wine had aromas of sourdough and toast and a slight mineral scent as well with a bit of banana. While bread isn’t what you might expect to smell in a sparkling wine, trust me it is a very good thing! This is another indication of quality and a result of the wine’s production in the traditional Champagne style.
When you taste the wine, you immediately find that your nose was on the money. Very subtle yeast and sour dough flavors are readily apparent along with the tropical fruit flavors or banana and a little apricot. There’s a hint of raspberry as well, again a tell from the use of 100% Pinot Noir. This is a super light, crisp and very refreshing wine. Its nice and dry and even though it finishes with a little hint of sweetness on the end, there is not residual sugar in the wine and would do better as a compliment to appetizers or cheese. There is medium acidity which gives the wine a little pep and despites being aged for 2+ years there aren’t any oak flavors resulting in a delicate very well balanced wine.
All in all this is an excellent wine, especially for the retail price, $15 per bottle. Most sparkling wines at that price point will rot your teeth and gut, but the Gruet will knock your socks off. This is a delicious, well made wine that easily can stand up to creamy cheeses and charcuterie or is absolutely perfect on its own. Impress your friends during your inauguration festivities with this one, they’ll think you spent 2X or more on the bottle than you actually did! This American sparkler is the perfect way to celebrate any occasion and you’ll become an instant fan!
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