Finest American Bubbs
Cruse Wine Co. 'Cruse Tradition'
Michael Cruse makes two traditional method (that is, the method of Champagne) sparkling wines. One of them, Ultramarine, has achieved cult status and is nigh impossible to acquire. The other, Cruse Tradition, was just released for the first time, and has not yet garnered a rabid following, but based on what we've tasted, we don't think it'll be too long before people catch on.
The inaugural Cruse Tradition is a blend of three vineyards: Rorick Vineyard of the Sierra Foothills, Rita's Crown of coastal of Santa Barbara, and Alder Springs of Mendocino. The cepage consists of 85% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Noir from the 2016 vintage, aged sur lie in bottle for two years and bottled with no dosage. Only 261 cases were made. Upfront, it is full of beautiful yeasty and toasty aromas, a note of smoky burnt toast mingling flirtaciously with sweet airy brioche. Ripe citrus juice, yellow apples and peaches are rather subtle on the nose, but come through clear as a bell on the palate and through the finish. Suspicions of pith and fruit skins, fennel, white flowers, vanilla and spice add complex intrigue. It is very dry, true to the 'brut zero' style, with a strong acid line cutting through the richness of fruit and pastry. Today it is a delight, but it will, no doubt, evolve positively for at least a few years. One can drink it casually with popcorn or triple cream, but it can be a serious partner at the table: grilled seabass, lobster, oysters, ceviche and sashimi, poultry in a lemon cream sauce, fried chicken, veggie tempura...