2019 Cruse Wine Co., Valdiguie, Rancho Chimiles Vineyard, Napa Valley.
Valdiguie, once thought to be Gamay in California, has been in the state for a long time and makes for a very interesting wine that can give you the impression you are drinking a fine Cru Beaujolais and in this Cruse Ranch Chimiles version you an extra dimension with jazzy briar spiced crushed raspberry, mineral notes, spring florals and a lovely deep purple/ruby color. This 2019 vintage shows the years extended cool growing season and long hang time with a concentrated and textured palate, but with a juicy fresh personality, a quality that makes Valdiguie so playful and joyous, this is a highly quaffable with its layers of dark fruit, a lighter medium bodied feel with smooth burst of acidity that is in no way aggressive, just giving crisp detailing and keeping things exciting. Michael Cruse, known for his incredible sparkling wines from his leesy and sophisticated methode champenoise Ultramarine, that has a cult following, to his delightfully unique Pet-Nats, one that is made of St. Laurent, a rare Austrian grape in a Blanc de Noirs style and one, like this wine, made from Valdiguie in a Rosé, which is absurdly good too! That said, Cruse does a quality and intriguing set of still wines with varietals ranging from Syrah to Tannat, that originally comes from close the Pyrenees in France’s southwest and most famous in the fiery tannic red wines of Madiran and Irouleguy, in the French Basque region, as well as a brand new Petite Sirah, a red blend called the Monkey Jacket and this delicious Valdiguie. Time and air brings out more complexity and suppleness of fruit adding a delicate savory earthiness, herbs, anise, porporri and a nice cranberry element.

The Cruse Valdiguie, also known as Gros Auxerrois and or Napa Gamay, was hand crafted with an old world sensibility with the feel of whole bunches and a carbonic like indigenous yeast fermentation in tank and then raised in a combination of well used small barriques and larger French oak puncheons with a minimum dose of sulfur, in a style, that again reminds you of a traditional Fleurie or Morgon. There is plenty to admire here and Cruse is certainly one of California’s new stars and I highly recommend jumping on his new set of releases, these wines sell out fast, especially his bubbles, which are highly coveted, and I also suggest grabbing the Tannat and this Valdiguie while you can. Planted back in 1972, the Rancho Chimiles vineyard 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. The Cruse lineup is fresh and fun, all of which are very expressive, vivid and transparent, these wines are made to be enjoyed without fussy over thinking of every detail, they offer generous fruit and opulent textural pleasure with a distinct ease of use that brings lots smiles and comfort. The Rancho Chimiles Valdiguie is one of the nicest examples of this grape out there and joins a select group of producers that make quality single varietal versions, including Broc Cellars, Wilson Foreigner, the Martha Stoumen and Las Jaras collaboration sparkling red (Valdiguie), Rochioli and Folk Machine to name a few. This 2019 edition of Michael Cruse’s Valdiguie is very inviting stuff with its lingering kirsch and violets that goes well with a variety of simple cuisine and is great with finger foods, cheese and cured meats, drink this over the next year or so.
($32 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

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