Wine & Spirits - August 2019 - 20

unfiltered, or eschewing cold-stabilization.
Cruse was unfazed by such experiments.
"I still have the strong sense that a California sparkling wine should be distinctly Californian," says Cruse. "I want to hold onto
French techniques, but make them applicable to our sites, our soils, our climates."
Cruse is used to working on a small scale
and his close collaborations can lead to some
absorbing experiments. Working with Parr
on Sandhi, Cruse recalls a day in 2014 when he flew down
to Lompoc to retrieve some yeast cultures Parr had isolated
from a pressing of Bentrock chardonnay. Cruse then propagated those yeasts and used them in his tirage of the vin clair
from the same vineyard. The aromatic family resemblance
between the still and the sparkling wine, according to Parr,
is uncanny. "You get the same reductive quality, the same
shading of lees," he says.
Meanwhile, Cruse continues to develop his own sparkling
wine business. This year, he introduced Cruse Tradition, a
methode traditionelle sparkling wine with which he hopes
one day to reach 5,000 cases.
A blend from multiple sources, Tradition is, in many ways,
Ultramarine's opposite: Where the latter can feel distant and
contemplative in its complexity, Cruse Tradition feels open,
bright and exuberant, more Beyoncé compared with Ultramarine's Erykah Badu.
With Tradition taking up more of his time and his
resources, Cruse plans to cut back on his consultancy,
though he hopes to continue working with Parr and Cottrell as friends, clients and creative foils.

W

hen Andrew Davis started the Radiant Sparkling
Wine Company in McMinnville in 2014, he did
it out of a conviction that Oregon was one of the
best places in the country for growing grapes
for sparkling wine.
After studying sparkling-wine production at Lincoln University in Christchurch, New Zealand, Davis worked from
2003 to 2013 alongside Rollin Soles at Argyle Winery, the
beacon of Oregon sparkling-wine production. Every year, he
made at least a half-dozen wines, playing with vintage and
nonvintage, single varieties and blends, extended tirage, late
disgorgement: It became the principle proving ground for
20

WINE & SPIRITS

AUGUST 2019

MICHAEL CRUSE WORKS
WITH THE CHARLES
HEINTZ VINEYARD IN
OCCIDENTAL FOR HIS
ULTRAMARINE WINES.

Oregon sparkling wine, and was practically the
only one until Tony Soter moved there in 2002.
Davis left Argyle in 2013 and founded Radiant
the following year, investing in the equipment
required to pull off a legitimate consultancy-a
setup equivalent to Rack & Riddle's, "plus a kickass stereo." He makes wine with fruit from all
over the valley, coaching, consulting and taking
winemakers through the many extra steps that
traditional-method sparklers require.
He now has more than two dozen clients,
including Adelsheim, Sokol Blosser, Stoller,
Lundeen, Brooks, Rex Hill and Raptor Ridge.
"I get to play with so many more wines than I ever did at
Argyle," he says. "There's a great diversity of styles and shading within all these wines: Some are tight and lean, some are
rich and full, some are primary and brilliant, others more
tertiary and aged."
Traditional-method sparkling wine is "an incredibly technical wine to make," he says. "There are a million ways to
mess it up; but once you put the crown cap on, there's no
going back." Add to this the fact that few in this country
had acquired the sensorial experience of tasting a wine and
knowing where it would likely end up. "People didn't know
what it was supposed to taste like," says Davis. His biggest
contribution to his clients may be, in fact, his deft approach
to pressing off the vin clair. "You have to be really careful
about how you press for sparkling wine," says Davis. "It is so
much more delicate; the press is based on finesse. You can't
have too much phenolic uptake, since a high phenolic content inhibits good bubble formation."
James Frey of Trisaetum, who has a sparkling-wine brand
called Pashey (named for his grandmother), is one of Davis's
many acolytes. Frey came to sparkling wine with perhaps
fewer trepidations than other still wine producers because
he is no stranger to acid; for Trisaetum, he makes a halfdozen rieslings each vintage, drawn from many blocks, at
least some of which approach the acid levels common to
sparkling base wine. Also, he's technically inclined, which
is extremely helpful for making bubbles. "When I found a
Champagne I loved," he says, "I'd take a bit of it and run it
through the spectrometer, and could find out whether it had
gone through malo [-lactic conversion], what its residual sugars were, and break down why I liked it."
Armed with this information, he can consider which of
his vineyards are coming closest to meeting those numbers.
For sheer nerve and marginality, that is Frey's Coast Range
Vineyard, on the westernmost edge of the valley, set in the
coastal hills. Cold, breezy and shaded much of the day by
surrounding conifer forests, it's the sort of place that almost
never ripens up; in fact, Frey harvests his sparkling-wine fruit
after he's harvested the pinot noir and chardonnay for still
wines at his other sites.
His Pashey label has three bottlings, with more debuting
next year that reflect a range of styles. The Pashey 2015 Blanc
de Blancs was a top scorer in this issue, a wine that feels laserprecise in its lean citrus scents, and girded by minerality.
"Precision" is not a word often associated with American
sparkling wine; it seems like a concept that mostly resides in
the province of Champagne. And yet there are wines among
this new wave of sparklers from California and Oregon that
have earned the distinction. n



Wine & Spirits - August 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Wine & Spirits - August 2019

Contents
Wine & Spirits - August 2019 - Cover1
Wine & Spirits - August 2019 - Cover2
Wine & Spirits - August 2019 - 1
Wine & Spirits - August 2019 - 2
Wine & Spirits - August 2019 - 3
Wine & Spirits - August 2019 - 4
Wine & Spirits - August 2019 - Contents
Wine & Spirits - August 2019 - 6
Wine & Spirits - August 2019 - 7
Wine & Spirits - August 2019 - 8
Wine & Spirits - August 2019 - 9
Wine & Spirits - August 2019 - 10
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Wine & Spirits - August 2019 - Cover3
Wine & Spirits - August 2019 - Cover4
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/winespirits/202108
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/winespirits/201312
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/winespirits/2013winter
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https://www.nxtbookmedia.com