2017 Ultramarine Sparkling Blanc de Blancs, Charles Henitz Vineyard California, USA
One of the most exciting wine projects in California today happens to be an upstart garagiste with an obsession for redefining sparkling wine in America. Michael Cruse operates from a small industrial park in Petaluma just off the bustling Highway 101 corridor. After a brief career in molecular and cell biology laboratories, Cruse worked his first harvest in 2006. After learning about the meticulous, labor-intensive process of producing artisanal grower Champagne, he became convinced that if winemakers applied the same approach to sparkling wine in California, the results could be game-changing. Cruse now stands at the forefront of a burgeoning movement making incredibly beautiful sparkling single-vineyard wines from some of Sonoma's most acclaimed vineyard sites. As William Kelley writes in Decanter, "But by pioneering the artisanal methods and terroir-driven philosophy of the grower Champagne movement here in North America, it’s fair to say he’s enjoying an influence that’s being felt far beyond his modest facility in Petaluma.