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California Sun, Fun and Tradition, Bottled by Michael Cruse


 It’s fair to say the California wine industry made its bones producing Cabernets, Pinots and Chardonnays to rival those of France. However, the story of California wine runs far deeper than the acclaim achieved through these three varieties.

Recognizing California as a paradise for viticulture, nineteenth century pioneers imported and planted a multitude of European grapes. Old World varieties continued to be introduced as California’s evolving wine trade navigated the ravages of phylloxera, Prohibition and market trends. Some of these grapes gained a lasting foothold. A great many more languished into obscurity.
In recent decades a new wave of winemakers have championed several of California’s overlooked or abandoned varieties, producing soulful, character driven wines of terroir.
A talented contributor to this movement is San Francisco native, Michael Cruse.
Since founding Cruse Wine Co. in 2013, Michael has pursued his unique vision of California wine, sourcing fruit from organically farmed, historically significant vineyards of the North Coast. 
He offers a range of sparkling and still wines from under-the-radar grapes like Valdiguié, St. Laurent, Carignan and Tannat. If you haven't heard of Valdiguié you’re definitely not alone. Once prominent in the Languedoc region of France, this high yielding, heat tolerant grape was widely planted in California following prohibition, where it was known as Napa Gamay. Fading out of the commercial mainstream, Valdiguié has stayed alive in the vineyards of small family growers of the North Coast.
Crafted with minimal intervention in the cellar, these are elegant, compelling expressions with a true sense of origin. Today, we are pleased to offer Michael’s flagship red blend, “Monkey Jacket”. From sites in Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino and Suisun counties, this fresh, aromatic bottling offers a window into California’s viticultural past with a modern edge.
Fresh mint, violets, wet earth and a hint of smoky bacon on the nose lead to a silky, firm mid palate of plum, wild strawberry and orange zest. The long, salty finish speaks of the wine’s coastal origins.Bright and lively, and weighing in at just 12.5% alcohol, this is a perfect match for a variety of foods - charcuterie, duck breast, spring rolls and fried chicken readily come to mind! A blend of Valdiguié (51%) Carignan (13%), Syrah (10%) St. Laurent, Pinot Noir (8%) and an unknown field blend (18%).