Cruse Wine Co. Monkey Jacket 2018
Bright raspberry tart, sweet summer flowers, and wild bramble. Fresh, crunchy acidity, and simple, cleansing tannins that finish clean.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Michael Cruse blends Monkey Jacket from an array of appellations and varieties, but he always bases it on valdiguié because, as he puts it, it drives the “California-ness” of the wine— the sunniness, the fruit. In 2018 the blend is about half valdiguié, with the rest carignane, syrah and other mixed blacks. At 12.5 percent alcohol, it’s translucent, bright and floral, with scents of violets and cherry blossoms. The crunchy fruit is firmed up by 20 percent whole-cluster additions, making this a snappy wine for summer barbecue.
Cruse Wine Co. was an opportunity for Michael to showcase fruit driven and satisfying wines that are pleasurable, but seriously balanced and unapologetically California. The North Coast is near and dear to Michael, so he chose to focus on sites within the Napa Valley and Sonoma County to create his special wines. The one thing he didn’t want to do was to create another Pinot Noir or Cabernet, instead he found inspiration in varieties such as Valdiguie, Tannant, Carignan and St Laurent.
The flagship wine of Cruse Wine Co. is the red blend Monkey Jacket (the name inspired by an old, British sailor song). This wine embodies all the things Cruse Wine Co. is meant to be, as it’s a blend of Valdiguie, Carignan, Tannat, St Laurent and mixed field blend reds and provides incredible drinkability with brightness and ample structure. In addition to Monkey Jacket, Michael also makes small lots of single vineyard varietal wines from Valdiguie, Tannant, Syrah, Carignan and Chardonnay.
Reaching up California's coastline and into its valleys north of San Francisco, the North Coast AVA includes six counties: Marin, Solano, Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake. While Napa and Sonoma enjoy most of the glory, the rest produce no shortage of quality wines in an intriguing and diverse range of styles.
Climbing up the state's rugged coastline, the chilly Marin County, just above the City and most of Sonoma County, as well as Mendocino County on the far north end of the North Coast successfully grow cool-climate varieties like Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and in some spots, Riesling. Inland Lake County, on the other hand, is considerably warmer, and Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc produce some impressive wines with affordable price tags.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.