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.
Monkey Jacket is blended 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.
Bright raspberry tart, sweet summer flowers, and wild bramble. Fresh, crunchy acidity, and simple, cleansing tannins that finish clean.