2022 Cruse Wine Company, Sparkling Valdiguié, Ranch Chimiles Vineyard, Napa Valley.
Known for his precise and uniquely tasty sparklers, Michael Cruse has mastered the art of both Methode Champenoise and Pètillant Naturel (Pèt-Nat) with his Sparkling Valdiguié, as seen here, being an outstanding and fun California rarity with bright citrus, wild peach and cherry fruits, along with a touch of leesy/nutty richness, a smooth and luxurious mousse and some nice mineral/stony notes. Valdiguié, once mistaken here in California for Gamay and long called Napa Gamay, is a red wine grape grown primarily in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of southern France, where it is generally known by the alias Gros Auxerrois, but without much fanfare, while here in the state it is admired for its juicy fruity personality. Cruse also does a regular red from Valdiguié from time to time and it has a very Cru Beaujolais like charm as well, but the sparkler is a bit more unique and very much a specialty product, one I don’t like missing out on. Maybe not as thrilling as Cruse’s sophisticated Methode Champenoise Ultramarine, that has a cult following, but it s one that doesn’t require a special occasion to enjoy!

Cruse reveals that his Valdiguié Pet-Nat was whole cluster pressed using the same slow steady cycle as for his traditional method sparkling wines, as I’ve mentioned, but this version comes from the Rancho Chilies Vineyard, which is different from some of the past versions that came from the old 60 year old bush vines at the Deming Vineyard. The wine was then fermented a small stainless steel tank with maybe a touch of skin contact, but without much of any colorful tint, typically finishing at between 11.5% and 12% natural alcohol, which is nice and dry, much like a Brut, especially in this 2022 edition. Towards the end of the fermentation the wine was bottled, stored, and then riddled, and disgorged for clarity, with Michael adding that there was zero additions made here, no yeast, no sugar, or sulfur added, it is pure, fermented, grape juice, and that is exactly what you taste in these delightful sparkling wines. Planted back in 1972, the Rancho Chimiles vineyard, a hot spot for Valdiguié, is located in the Wooden Valley, northeast of the town of Napa, its a special terroir with warm sunshine, but the area is cooled by evening breezes and fog from nearby San Pablo Bay that allows these grapes to get ripe, but with balance and gives the wines a welcome finesse.
($40 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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