nv Cruse Wine Company, Tradition, Sparkling Wine, California.
This bright and steely Cruse Tradition bubbly starts with a very Champagne like tension and a hint of reduction before opening up and gaining a lovely textural mouth feel and a refined mousse. Michael Cruse’s signature wine, his Ultramarine Brut is one of the most collectable and sought after sparkling wines in the new world and one that I fortunately got to try recently through a generous wine enthusiast, so I was excited to try his lesser known version, which is sort of an alternative edition from vineyard sites that Cruse found exceptional, but somehow didn’t fit the Ultramarine program. This Cruse Tradition is a zero dosage bubbly was crafted in the traditional method, this is not one of his Pet-Nats, using grapes, typical of Brut Champagne consisting of 85% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Noir sourced from vines mostly from the Sierra Foothills, at 56%, but also with 29% Santa Barbara fruit along with about 14% from Mendocino County. The wonderfully textured and balanced Champenoise Method Cruse Tradition is lovely and decedent bubbly with loads of brioche/doughy richness and depth, while still being vivid, minerally and crisply focused, its non dosage, making it almost Extra Brut style, makes it feel sophisticated and elegant in the glass.
Michael Cruse has a serious following for his sparkling wines, but also does an exciting set of still wines as well, he originally started his winemaking career in the cellars of Sutter Home winery before to eventually moving on to Merryvale, in Carneros, where he quickly worked his way up to becoming the assistant winemaker there, before striking out on his own to create his unique personal label. As reviewed most recently, his fun series of Pet-Nats, including a Sparkling Valdiguie and a Sparkling St. Laurent have a feverish and fanatic following and offer reasonable thrills for the money, while his Ultramarine is uber exclusive and pricey, with this cuvee Tradition sitting perfectly in between. There is a lot to enjoy and admire in the Cruse Tradition Sparkling with its fresh, even sharp detailing and layers of apple, lemon and quince fruit along with brioche, creme brûlée, almond/hazelnut and toast making it a thrilling Garagista methode champenoise that has a real Grower Fizz style feel in the mode of likes of Cedric Bouchard or an American version of cult Champagne icon Selosse.
($45 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive