Gruet Winery Review
Address: 8400 Pan-American Freeway NE Albuquerque,New Mexico 87113.
Phone Number: 505-821-0055
Tasting Hours: Mon-Fri 10:00-5:00, Sat 12:00-5:00
Region: Middle Rio Grande Valley AVA, New Mexico
Reviewer: Becky Parr
Review Date: 1/26/2014
Reviewer: Becky Parr
We served Gruets Brut sparkling wine for the toast at our wedding. It was fabulous the wine AND the wedding! So, when I learned that Gruet Winery was on the way out of town as we traveled from Santa Fe to Sedona for our honeymoon, we had to stop.
The Place:  I was surprised to find the winery right on the freeway. You literally turn in from the access road, not far from a very busy intersection sporting some very unfortunate construction. The exterior of the building is quite lovely; the entryway was equally inviting, with a Christmas tree display made out of wine bottles. (We were there on Dec. 30.) There appeared to be two tasting areas, a more formal area that was not in use, and a more casual area where we were served. While we were there, several locals came in to taste wine and hang out so its not just the goofy wine writers who enjoy this place! The entry hall to the casual tasting room includes some old photos and displays information about how sparkling wine is made. Its worth a look.
The People:  We were served by a lovely, young lady named Laura, who was able to answer every question I asked. She obviously knows her products and was absolutely sweet and nice the whole time. She was somehow able to divide her attention between us, two other ladies who were at the tail-end of their tasting, and a very large personality at the far end of the bar who only wanted to talk about football. (It was entertaining.) Anyway, all wineries should have a representative like Laura. She made us feel right at home.
Another personality whos still prominent at Gruet is the late Gilbert Gruet himself, the winerys founder; his photo hangs prominently on the wall, his name is on the wine (try the Gilbert Gruet Grand Reserve), and his personality shines through in the Methode Champagnoise used to make the sparkling wines sold in Albuquerque. Gruet started his winemaking in France and expanded to New Mexico when he and his family discovered that the climate in New Mexico was similar to that in the Champagne region of France, where land is a bit scarce if you want to expand.
I did learn from Laura that the name is pronounced Grew-ay, not Grew-ette. Id been saying it incorrectly, in spite of the French lessons I had in high school!
The Wines:  As always, this was the best part. Gruets portfolio is mostly sparkling, although they do have a few still wines (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah), and I was a little afraid that all the sparkling wines would taste like each other. They didnt. They vary in their dryness, although none of the wines is really, really sweet. Laura explained how the different sparkling wines also vary in the percentages of the grape varieties used; the Brut, which was what we used at our wedding, was 75% Chardonnay and 25% Pinot Noir, while the Grand Rose Vintage is 90% Chardonnay aged in French oak, and 10% Pinot Noir. Others are 100% Chardonnay, but even they taste different from each other. I loved that. I also couldnt choose a favorite, which is very unlike me. Any of these even LHomme, which is the sweetest I would happily drink or serve at home. (Yes, there was a La Femme to go with LHomme, but sadly they were sold out.)
We tried the two still reds, as well. My notes have the word Yum underlined twice next to the 2009 Pinot Noir, which was very light and open-air aged. I bought a bottle. I also joined the wine club, which is highly unusual for me; considering all the wineries I get to visit and review, I have to be pretty choosy about which wine clubs I join, or Ill start cutting too much into my day job salary! This wine club ships six times a year, so I expect to be well supplied with sparkling wine throughout the year.
The Experience:  Im so glad we decided to stop! The facility was lovely, the wines were excellent, and it was great to meet Laura. Gruet ships to 49 out of 50 states (I figure #50 is either Alaska or Hawaii, and that makes me so sad for them!) so if you are looking for a sparkling wine to toast with at your special event (like we did), Gruet is an excellent choice.