Knights of Spumante
It’s been particularly enjoyable to get to know some of Argentina’s Spumante. While I had some in Patagonia, some of the best is being made in the Mendoza region, and Cruzat has been on of my favorites. We arrived at Cruzat just as they were harvesting some of their first Chardonnay and Pinot noir grapes, and we were greeted with the smell of fermenting grapes and baked bread smell that one hopes to find in a sparkling wine-making facility.
As a Latin Americanist, I am fascinated by the status of South American wines being “new world” wines, putting them in the same category as Oregon and Washington wines. The latter are truly new, in the sense of the last 50-60 years of modern wine production, while South American wines easily go back to 450 years of production. Cruzat’s emblem is even a family emblem that goes back to the Knights Templar.
Cruzat is solely a Spumante winery, as sparkling and still wines must be made at separate facility, as sugar is not allowed in the latter, by regulation. Because of this, they also do custom crushes for other brands who produce still wines at their own facilities. The Extra Brut was amazing, the Nature was also lovely, and while I tend not to like the sweeter varieties, those at the table who did, seemed to enjoy the Demi-sec as well. Cruzat uses the Méthode Champenoise for production, and plays around a lot with blends, but only of Pinot noir and Chardonnay, as Pinot Meunière is tough to grow here. They play around with some interesting straight varietal productions of Chardonnay and a Pinot noir, as well.
A side note: As someone who teaches about wine, and knows just enough about wine to get myself in trouble, it is sometimes painful to sit through someone who is using old theories on how to taste wine. I don’t have anything to say about how to make sparkling, but we spent a fair amount of time talking about the sweet vs. acid tasting regions of the tongue, which most of science now agrees don’t really exist. But, I know better than to show up a wine tour guide, and also remember the blank looks I’ve gotten, when I have not kept my mouth shut. So despite the machinations we went through in getting the Doux past our “sweet taste-buds” on the tip of our tongue, as we then imagine how much sweeter it tastes after we allow it to do so; the Spumante was excellent.