December 31, 2008

Gruet Sparkling Blanc de Noirs about $15

Just outside Truth or Consequences, N.M., the Gruet family is growing grapes for some of the best-value bubbly on the market. Gilbert Gruet had been making wines in Champagne, France, for many years before he visited New Mexico; then, touring through the Southwest on vacation, he ran into some fellow Europeans who'd planted vineyards in the higher elevations, where the altitude tempers the warm, sunny days and the limestone subsoil is similar to that of France's Champagne region. Gruet planted an experimental plot of chardonnay and pinot noir—the two traditional Champagne grapes — in 1984; in 1987, he decided to make wine, following the traditional, painstaking method required for true Champagne. That method — the methode traditionelle or methode Champenoise — gives wines small, gentle bubbles that last. The Blanc de Noirs, made mostly from pinot noir (75%), is the richest of the basic blends, an elegant amalgam of cream, toast and red berry notes that's as good on its own as it is with Hoppin' John on New Year's Day.

Gruet Winery, 888-857-WINE; www.gruetwinery.com

This first appeared in the Denver Post.

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