Wine from a chemist’s perspective
The magic of Michael Cruse
In the world of wine, the “New California” trend is gaining more and more attention. One outstanding representative of this trend is Michael Cruse, who launched two brands, Cruse Wine Co. and Ultramarine. Cruse Wine Co. brews wines by reviving lesser-known grape varieties on the verge of extinction in California, such as Valdiguié (Napa Gamay). Ultramarine makes sparkling wines inspired by the “one vineyard, one vintage” spirit of Récoltant Manipulant in champagne. With these and others, he is taking on pursuits not often seen in California.
Cruse launched his winery in 2013. His unique wines earned near-instant popularity in the region, and he was selected Winemaker of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle three years after going independent. What’s fascinating is his history. He was originally a Molecular and Cell Biology major, with an emphasis on Biochemistry at the University of California, Berkeley. Told by a professor that fermentation chemistry would be useful in brewing wine, he changed his mind and devoted himself to winemaking. The reason he launched two brands was that by making wines in parallel with completely different approaches, he thought the two wines would influence each other and develop even further.
Today a cult has already formed around his wines, and they are so popular that he only assigns a few bottles to starred American restaurants. They may be hard to get a hold of, but if you happen to come across them, give them a try. You’ll get a clear taste of the evolution of California wine.
(Text: Kimiko Anzai)
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