American sparkling wines just keep getting better and better! Winemakers have sought out the best regions (cool, almost chilly, regions make the best sparkling, see Champagne as the classic example) and are learning to adapt the classic principles to their new regions and challenges. With Champagne makers such as Tattinger, Roederer, Mumm, & Moet Chandon having made significant investments in the American outposts, the future is bright! Here at the Crystal City Wine Shop, we look to the smaller producers who have their own path and today’s tasting celebrates two of those: Gruet Winery and Argyle Winery.
- Gruet Sauvage Non-Dosage NV: Gilbert Gruet, the founder of the Gruet Winery, was a pioneer grower in Champagne by founding the U.V.C.B., a co-op in the village of Bethon in 1967, after having founded his own Champagne house (Gruet et Fils) in 1952. After a family trip in 1983, he decided to plant an experimental vineyard in Eagle, NM of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Two of his children, Laurent and Nathalie Gruet moved to New Mexico to manage the operation. So began an award-winning American sparkling wine adventure! Sauvage is not as bone dry as some brut natures but is a very refreshing sparkler made from 100% Chardonnay. This wine is full of citrus notes and is a perfect pairing for oysters, sushi, and creamy dishes.
- Argyle Growers Series 2013 Brut: Argyle is a grower-focused winery that is committed to improving the viticulture of the 650+ acres of the best vineyard locations in Oregon’s Willamette Valley that they work. Argyle’s commitment to improvement, at the vineyards and at the winery, has been built on a bedrock of innovation and practices that are L.I.V.E. Certified Sustainable & Oregon Certified Sustainable. Since its first vintage in 1987, Argyle Brut has always been vintage-dated, 100% Argyle-grown and was the first in the US to use late-season ripening Dijon Clones. The 2013 sparkling wine vintage in the Willamette Valley was pristine, showcasing the enticing generosity and definition the region has to offer. (60% Pinot Noir & 40% Chardonnay)
- Argyle Artisan Series Knudsen Vineyards/Julia Lee’s Block Blanc de Blanc 2012: Planted in 1990, this is 100% Dijon clone Chardonnay from Argyle’s Knudsen Vineyards in the Dundee Hills AVA of the Willamette Valley. 2012 was a challenging vintage in Oregon. Bloom and fruit-set traveled from normal to well below normal. Cold and hail drove down yields and the July to October period was the driest on record since the late 1800’s. Potential desiccation was further exacerbated by very dry, east winds coming out of Eastern Oregon & Washington’s high desert. It was the longest wind in Argyle’s 27 years of Oregon experience! While warmer than the previous two vintages, the October 1st picking provided ample concentration while allowing the volcanic tension of the Dundee Hills to shine. Fermented and aged in their oldest, neutral oak barrels, it is balanced and rich glass of bubbles. This is a sparkling to really savor!
- Gruet Demi-Sec NV: Gruet released their first wines in 1989 and they opened their own facility in Albuquerque in 1993. Within a few years, their wines were earning major accolades – the 2004 Yarden Trophy at the International Wine & Spirits Competition in London for its 1997 Blanc de Blancs and #43 on the 2011 Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of the World list for its NV Blanc de Noirs. Today, Gruet works with over 400 acres of grapes in New Mexico, planted exclusively in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, at over 4,000 and 5,000 feet in elevation. Their Demi-Sec is a sweeter style of sparkling and shows notes of peaches with a honey-like sweetness that prevents it from being too dry. It is the opposite end of the spectrum from Sauvage and is just as wonderful!
Check out the rest of our bubbles for your celebrations this weekend!