You might not realize it, but most Champagnes and other sparkling wines have at least a touch of extra sugar added to them, in the form of sugar syrup or sweet wine, to make them less bracingly acidic. Even brut wines, typically the driest sparklers, undergo this step, called the dosage, toward the end of the traditional sparkling winemaking process.
But there has been a growing trend among producers of sparkling wines to include a “zero dosage” wine in their portfolios, also called “extra brut” or “brut nature.” Among them is Gruet, the well-known New Mexico winery, which does so with great success in its Blanc de Blancs “Sauvage.”
This $20 non-vintage wine is made entirely from Chardonnay — blanc de blancs signifies this — and for me, it rises above Gruet’s lower-priced offerings, which are good, basic sparkling wine values themselves.
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It’s not so much that this a very dry wine that makes it notable, but the fact that the fruit really stands out and speaks for itself. Dosage or not, this is just very good sparkling wine.
With its fine bubbles, there is an elegance and subtlety to the wine. Tastes of green apple, lime, and fresh strawberry are punctuated by a hint of brioche and minerals on the long finish.
Beyond its role in a potential New Year’s toast, like many sparklers this is also a versatile food wine for all kinds of appetizers and festive main courses — I can see it with a lobster and saffron risotto, for instance.
It’s a delicious, affordable American sparkler — one that’s also sure to spark a conversation about the novelty of its New Mexico origin and its place in the “zero dosage” movement.
The Albuquerque-based winery, by the way, goes back 35 years and has its roots in France, where the Gruet family has been producing Champagne since 1952.