Saturday, September 25, 2010

Thomas Kruse

California has always had a tradition of home winemaking. Even during Prohibition, families were allowed to produce up to 200 gallons for personal use (that's around 3 bottles a day). Thomas Kruse began making wine at his home in Gilroy in the early 1960s. Pleased by his initial vintages he began studying oenology and viticulture, and opened a store for fellow enthusiasts, selling home winemaking supplies and sharing his new found knowledge.

In 1971 he purchased a small acreage on Hecker Pass Road where he established a vineyard and the eponymous winery. He made wine from whatever grape varieties were available, even table grapes; His maverick style and value pricing attracted a loyal local following.

After 20 years the winery moved to a larger 22 acre property on Dryden Road. Kruse planted 12 acres of vines, mostly red, with some Chardonnay. The vineyard is named Claire's Field, after the late family dog.

All wines are Estate except the non-vintage Clare's Field Red. Prices range from $10-$14, with significant discounts (50% or more) for case purchases. There is also a m├ęthode champenoise sparkling wine which was not poured.

2009 Blanc de Noir
A dry blush Zinfandel with a floral nose. Fruity, soft and simple with flavours of red apple. 81

2009 Chardonnay
This had a cidery, yeasty nose and gave the impression of a floral, oaky cider with a bitter note on the finish. 75

NV Claire's Field Red
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot & Syrah.
Smoky nose with notes of red fruit
Smooth, soft redcurrant flavours, with a bitter finish. 79

2007 Merlot
Smoky nose; Simple fruit, lots of tannin, quick finish. 80
The bottle had been open some time; a second, fresher bottle was a little better - 82

2007 Cabernet Sauvignon
Light nose showing blueberry and smoke. Pleasant blueberry and herb flavours with an earthy finish 84

2007 Zinfandel

Earthy raspberry nose, but on the palate it's sadly lacking fruit. There's lots of tannin and a hint of wintergreen. 82