American wines were supposed to be a staple on this blog last year. For the first months of the year I kept my promise to write about American wines from different states, then I got a very big project and some series fell by the wayside. I’m back to trying to write about different American wineries. This wine is made by Gruet in New Mexico, absolutely the leading player in that state and a top producer of value sparkling wines. This brand is sold under a different label than their flagship wines but I imagine it’s the same winemaker and the same grapes that go into this wine.
80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir, this sparkler has a great perlage, yeasty and mineral notes on the nose, and a refreshing, lively entrance on your palate thanks to its great acidity, 6.8 g/l. The information available about the wine is scant but it seems to be sold by Precept Wine company which is a go to supplier of a lot of wineries including the Gruet brand. Gruet was started over 25 years ago by a family from France who found the New Mexican soils perfect for vinifera.
Grapes had been grown in New Mexico since before the United States was formed, most likely the Mission grape. New Mexico has a very long history of grape growing with the first vines being planted by the Spanish in the 1600s for use in Catholic ceremonies and then by the Italians in the 1800s when the Jesuit priests came to the State. A huge flood in 1943 of the Rio Grande devastated vineyards that had already been hit by Prohibition in the 1929-1930. The once flourishing wine industry had to rebuild but it took many decades and it wasn’t until the 1970s that wineries started to open their doors again. Today the state has 60 wineries and tasting rooms.
The Gruet winery was started by a brother-sister team from France, Laurent and Nathalie Gruet. They choose New Mexico because of its climate and soils. New Mexico has great diurnal temperature variation because of the altitude of many of the vineyards and the long hours of sunshine that the grapes get during the day followed by cool nights, the ideal combination for grape growing. Think mesas, brown and red earth tones, tumble weed, green shrubs, pueblos, adobe churches dotting the landscape, mountain peaks and rivers, and chile.
Chile spelled with an “e” rather than and “i” is key to their foods, the red and the green ones. They add them to everything not just for the flavor but also for medicinal properties such as Vitamin C. Apparently they also have oils which help produce endorphins. I was driving up very large mesas and was frightened while there so I kept chile powder in the car to give me a jolt of power – true story – and courage to take on the heights.
Remember those sand creations you made with different colored sand in the 6th grade? Kind of like that. Of the wines that I’ve had from New Mexico, their sparklers impressed me most but they are supposed to have good Tempranillo too, makes sense since the climate is similar to parts of Spain.