The Story of New Mexico Bubbly
The Gruet Blanc de Noirs is a non-vintage blend of 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay sourced from vineyards in New Mexico along with grapes from, I believe, California and Washington. The term “Blanc de Noirs” translates to White from Black, yes, I know, White wine grapes are usually green and Red wine grapes are purple or red in most cases, but for some reason the French use terms that are color blind.
Gilbert Gruet started farming a vineyard in Champagne in the 1950s and the 1960s founded his Champagne winery near the village of Bethon in Champagne, France. He heard from other French winemakers about a promising, off the beaten path grape growing region in New Mexico. He decided to check it out and in the 1980s started a vineyard and by 1989 was selling New Mexico Bubbly based on the Sparkling wines from Champagne. In 2010, the Gruet Blanc de Noirs was named to Wine Spectators Top 100 Wines list, not bad for a Bubbly selling for less than $15.
The Gruet Blanc de Noirs is produced with the Traditional or Champagne Method of production. Here the grapes are fermented the first time, the 1st fermentation is where all the secret House Style techniques take place. After fermentation, the wine is bottled, but before a temporary top is attached a measured amount of yeast and sugar is added to every bottle. The 2nd fermentation then takes place inside the bottle, the yeast and sugar do their job in about 30 days, but the dead yeast and residue stay in the bottle for a minimum of 18 months. During that time the CO2 that was released as a result of the 2nd fermentation incorporates into the body of the wine. After 18 months or so, the dead yeast and gunk are removed from each bottle and the bottle is topped off with a little bit of wine and maybe some sugar to reach the intended sweetness level, such as Brut or Extra Dry. Just like they do it in Champagne only this time it’s occurring in New Mexico. The alcohol content is 12%.
The Tasting Notes
The color is pale gold with a hint of pink, along with a flurry of pretty little bubbles. The nose is crisp and clean, toasty vanilla, pear, grapefruit, green apple, and black cherry. This is an elegant Bubbly, well-balanced with tantalizing hints of flavor. It tastes of cherry and vanilla, peach and pear, tart grapefruit, and raspberry. The mid-palate shows that salty, nutty thing that 18 months of “on lees” provides, ripe McIntosh apple, and a flash of tangerine. The flavors are all subtle, they float in and out. The acidity is sneaky, it will get you reaching for another sip. The finish is soft and long.
- I have to admit my favorite Bubbly is the Pinot Noir based stuff, Blanc de Noirs, of course, I’m perfectly happy sipping the Chardonnay-based stuff as well. So, I am predispositioned to dig the Gruet Blanc de Noirs.
- We last reviewed this Bubbly in 2010 and while the price has risen in the last 9 years my enthusiasm seems to have remained.
- This is an excellent Sparkling wine/Bubbly. It is not merely good for the price.
- I have sampled the next level up Gruet Bubbly (around $25 to $30) when compared directly with Champagne Bubbly 2 or 3 times the price and in my mind, the Gruet won.
- When making your Bubbly purchase for the upcoming holidays let flavor and texture be your guide, not just price tag. Inexpensive Bubbly can give the entry-level Champagne Bubbles a run for their money.
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