Gruet Winery: A Premium Sparkling Producer in New Mexico, “French Roots and American Dreams”
An Interview with Gruet Winemaker, Cyril Tanazacq
Do not miss a chance to visit Gruet Winery, located in Albuquerque, New Mexico on your next trip to nearby Santa Fe or Taos. Founded in 1984, Gruet Winery specializes in Méthode Champenoise sparkling wines and is the best-known winery in New Mexico. Family owned and run, the New Mexico-based winery produces Pinot Noir and Chardonnay-based sparkling wines and a small collection of still wines. This winery has roots originating from Gilbert Gruet’s Champagne house in Bethon, France. More than 25 vintages later, Gruet Winery has achieved unprecedented acclaim and remains a favorite of the nation’s top sommeliers as it remains a quality value wine to serve by-the-bottle or the glass. Their new winemaker, Cyril Tanazacq, and I had a tasting in November at the winery. Cyril was born in the Champagne region of France and literally grew up with sparkling wine. See interview below.
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About Cyril Tanazacq, Winemaker, Gruet Winery
When the time came to appoint a lead winemaker outside of the Gruet dynasty, the search required finding someone who understood every nuance of sparkling winemaking, just like the founding family. In Cyril, Gruet Winery gained a professional with more than 20 years of winemaking experience, most of that time spent directly in the Champagne region of France.
Born in Reims, one could say Cyril has Méthode Champenoise in his blood: His grandfather was a grape grower in the region, and, for a while, he ran his family’s namesake Champagne house in the small town of Mailly-Champagne. Working so closely with Grand Cru-designated grapes for so long underscores Cyril’s pedigree of excellence in winemaking. Philosophically, Cyril prefers to let nature dictate the wines, allowing the grapes to speak for themselves in the final cuvée. He elegantly combines the best traditions of Méthode Champenoise production with cutting-edge technology at Gruet, and describes his winemaking as “a mix of passion and patience.”
Cyril has embraced the goal of expanding Gruet’s “French Roots & American Dreams” into its next chapter. Cyril and his family are happily embracing the cuisine of the Southwest.
Gruet Best of Tasting
NV Brut, $15
Tasting Panel, 90 Points
Lovely garnet-colored rosé, aged 24 months with bright floral, strawberry, and raspberry aromas. Rich and fruity Brut-style, this wine has luscious flavors of berries. Terrific wine with grilled salmon.
Wine Spectator, 90 points
I love a good Blanc de Noir (“white from black” means it is a sparkling wine made from a dark grape, in this case, Pinot Noir). This one is terrific. Baked pear and citrus notes, and a lively, creamy elegance….a great value.
James Suckling, 91 points
This is a bone-dry sparkler, with no “tirage*” added. It is pale straw with a delicate mousse. The wine features aromas of green apple and lemon. Perfect pairing with oysters, sushi, and cream sauces.
Interview: Cyril Tanazacq, his “AH-HA” Moment in Wine
We held our interview in the Albuquerque tasting room and back in the Gruet barrel room. I asked Cyril to describe his “Ah-Ha” moment in wine.
Tricia Conover, Editor:
“Cyril, thank you for hosting this tasting for me, and welcome to the US. I hope your family is settling in well in Albuquerque. Can you describe for me your “Ah-Ha” moment in wine?”
Cyril Tanazacq, Winemaker:
“Tricia, so glad you came to Santa Fe and joined us for a tasting. My family is doing well. The “Ah-Ha” moment? That is difficult to answer as I have had so many great moments in with the wonderful vines and wines of the world.
My chosen moments are several: my first Château d'Yquem [acknowledged as the best Sauterne], a dinner at Château Angelus [Premier Grand Cru Classé A, Saint-Emilion, Bordeaux], a tasting in the cellar of the Hospice de Beaune [Burgundy], or my Champagne tastings at Billecart Salmon, Mailly Grand Cru’s 60th Anniversary, or at Tattinger with the winemaker. I am forgetting so many moments of happiness, it is difficult to determine the best one.
So, I will focus on my first time in the wine industry in 1993 where I attended the prestigious wine school of Beaune called “La Viti” [Lycée Viticole de Beaune]. Since I came from Champagne, I was used to drinking wines at home. At “La Viti” I was fascinated by the wonderland of exchange of aroma, texture, color in class along with the sons of winegrowers from all the main regions of France including Burgundy, Beaujolais, Chablis, the Rhône Valley, Alsace, Sancerre, and the Loire Valley, and from new wine countries. It was one year of sensory explosion, literally. “La Viti” taught me that wine is made in the vineyards, and winemakers and enologists are just the midwives. This philosophy of using science in the service of Nature, not to master it, still drives me. This decisive move to [attend school in] Beaune is clearly my first wine “Ah-Ha” moment. All the stars were aligned.
Mes sincères salutations effervescentes, Cyril”
*Tirage: French term, the second “in bottle” fermented sparkling wine where extra yeast (and usually sugar) are added to blended still wine. The resulting Carbon Dioxide is trapped in the bottle to the bubbles that could be up to 7 atmospheres of pressure.
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