2017 Cruse Wine Company, Valdiguie, Rancho Chimiles Vineyard, Napa Valley.
The Cruse Valdiguie is always a tasty treat and the 2017 has a ripe and fruit forward style along with a light to medium body and juicy acidity that make it great Summer porch pounder and fun for any occasions, especially backyard BBQ’s. Cruse does two Valdiguies, one Pet-Nat version and this red version which displays a low alcohol quaffing personality with bright Gamay like dark fruits, a touch of spice, herbs and a delicate floral presence. This 2017, while just 12% natural alcohol, is ripe and smoothly textured at this point at a good spot with black cherry, blueberry, vine picked tangy berry, plum and sugar beet fruits along with distilled violets, light cedar notes and sage/fennel with a touch of grilled orange. Michael Cruse’s Petaluma based winery is a great label to explore making some thrilling values in red wines, but really standing out for his collection of sparkling wines that include an awesome set of Pet-Nats with some exotic grapes, like the mentioned Valdiguie and St. Laurent, a rare for California, Austrian red grape, but also a couple of luxurious Champagne method cuvees, one being his geeky cool grower fizz style Ultramarine Brut which is already a cult classic. Cruse has an intriguing lineup out right now, besides the Valdiguie and bubbly, Michael has a Tannat, a dry Muscat, an interesting Sierra Foothills Chard and his seriously delicious Monkey Jacket red field blend, made from Valdiguie, Syrah and Carignan, it’s not a wine to pass up, trust me!

The 2017 Cruse Wine Company red Valdiguie from Rancho Chimiles is done in a modern natural fashion with whole cluster, and in neutral oak with this vintage being mostly aged in large puncheons, 6 being used, plus a single barrique. Rancho Chimiles, first planted in 1972 by Virginia and Terry Wilson on 10 acres in this area east of Napa to Napa Gamay, a grape later to be known as Valdiguie. One of the oldest ranches in Napa County, Rancho Chimiles is still owned and operated by the Wilson family, it straddles the ridge between Wooden Valley and northern Gordon Valley, and includes bench land in both valleys. This ranch, where these vines are, interestingly is a historical site, with the original land grant being awarded by Governor Pio Pico, the last Governor of Mexican California.The deeply colored red Valdiguie glows with a vivid ruby at the core and drinks so easy it makes for fun evening companion with loads charm, it should be enjoyed slightly chilled, similar to your favorite Cru Beaujolais and with smiles and simple foods. Definitely look the Cruse bubbles, but don’t miss his set of reds either, especially if you like wines by Bric Cellars, Dirty and Rowdy, Martha Stoumen, Sheldon Wines and or Jolie-Laide, as these wines are in that same vein, but not clones. I love Valdiguie and Michael Cruse’s is one of the best, I can’t wait to drink his Sparkling version that he just released as well as his 2018!
($32 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

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