The Wine Curmudgeon used to regularly pour this wine blind, and dare anyone who tasted it to guess where it was from. It was, of course, a trick question – there’s no way anyone would guess New Mexico.
Unfortunately, Gruet has been a victim of its own success. It was probably the first regional wine with distribution throughout the U.S., and it long ago had to start using grapes from California to ensure it could make enough to meet demand. And its price hasn’t been $10 in a number of years (to say nothing of the company’s other problems).
I was also unsure about quality after the addition of the California grapes. It might have been my imagination, but something seemed to be missing the couple of times I had tasted it. So I was relieved to find that the Brut ($13, purchased), Gruet’s entry level wine, was up to its usual standards this time around.
Look for lots of tiny bubbles, some crisp green apple and a little something more than most bubbly at this price has. In this, it’s less austere than a cava but not quite as complicated as a well-made, medium-priced California sparkling. Which means it’s an ideal wine for The Holiday That Must Not be Named; you can still get a smile when you tell the other person the winery is in New Mexico.