By: Ryan Woodhouse
K&L Staff Member
If any of you have been lucky enough to get a hold of some Ultramarine bubbles you know just how spectacular they are. The part that's not so fun is when you have to scour the internet just to find a bottle, and when you do find it you're looking at prices upwards of $200. So here's the scoop on this stunning sparkler...it was made for Charlie Heintz by Michael Cruse of Ultramarine fame who sources his grapes from Charlie's legendary eponymous vineyard on the Sonoma Coast. A winemaker who worked for Cruse for some time gave me the inside scoop that this bottling is basically the heads and tails of the Ultramarine "Heintz Vineyard" Blanc de Blanc. It's made from the same fruit, same pressing and fermentation process etc...just that the select, mid-press cut goes to Ultramarine ($200bt) and the rest, the free run and latter pressing, was bottled for vineyard owner Charlie Heintz under his own estate label. Aside from this Ultramarine lineage, this bottle can stand tall on it's own merits; coming from one of the most highly regarded Chardonnay vineyards in all of California and spending an impressive one year in neutral French oak then more than 5 years on tirage (that's about the same length of time maturing as Roederer's Cristal!) A lovely elegance to the bubbles lifts aromas of powdery white flowers, citrus blossom and toasted barley. On the palate the brightness and vibrancy of the coastal grown Chardonnay is nicely contrasted against the backdrop of rich, yeasty, nutty qualities. It's like a flaky almond croissant meets a freshly baked, tangy apple tart. Mouthwatering and very moreish! A brisk, saline minerality underscores everything and lingers on the finish. A fantastic bottle of bubbly for the holiday season and quality that greatly exceeds the sharp winery-direct price point. This one's a winner all around.