Monday, February 05, 2007

New Mexico Sparkles

Gruet Winery is located near Truth or Consequence and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Yes, New Mexico. Back from London, and impressed with the geographical range of wines in their supermarkets, I decided to pop the cork on a wine from a region in the US I've never had before. Moldavian wine is no doubt grand, but how about New Mexico?

I learned from Appellation America that the first grapes planted in the US were in fact planted in New Mexico, way back in 1639 by Fray Gracia de Zuniga. Floods of the Rio Grande between 1880 and 1900 destroyed much of the 3,000+ acres of grapes that had been cultivated over more than two centuries, and it was only in the 1970s that the area started coming back into its own as a grape producing region.

I was impressed with this very good QPR sparkler from grapes grown 4300 ft. above sea level in the dry air and sandy soil of the region. The NV Gruet Blanc de Noirs ($8.99/375ml, Mission Wines) was pale copper in color. Though it had small bubbles (aka bead) it had lots of froth (aka mousse). There were nutty and apple aromas at first, and as you drank you tasted hazelnuts, apple, and even a touch of berry. This was a nice example of a brut blanc de noirs, that was not harsh and that had much more complexity than many at this price point. We had this with a simple chicken and shrimp stir fry with brown rice, and it nicely picked up the nuttiness of the rice.

There is a lot of the Gruet available throughout the country, according to Wine-Zap, and in many places the 750ml bottles are under $15. The little splits like the one I had are also good to have on hand for pouring a glass or two when you don't want to make a commitment to a whole bottle of bubbly. One of my New Year's wine resolutions was to drink more sparkling wine, and opening this bottle was proof that this is going to be one resolution that's easy and fun to keep!


Anonymous said...

We liked the NV Gruet Blanc de Noirs - Brut so much we recommended it for our Holiday Wine List in December. Its a great value. Cheers.

Unknown said...

I have to find a bottle of Gruet. I keep hearing great things about their wines.

Dr. Debs said...

Hi Ken and John! I'd forgotten that the Gruet was on your holiday recs, Ken, but based on my taste it was a great choice. And I was surprised, John, to see how many folks carried the Gruet so it's worth keeping your eyes peeled for the understated bottle.