There is something about winter and the holiday season that automatically makes me think of German wine. Yesterday’s post featured a white wine from neighboring Austria that also fit the bill, but I guess it’s just the imagery that comes to mind when I taste wines from that general area that makes me think of Christmas. Today I’d like to explore another somewhat unfamiliar varietal from the region that is truly something unique and different.
Gewurztraminer (pronounce gah-vurz-tra-meener), which loosely translates to “spice grape”, is a German varietal that is intense in almost every way. It is potently aromatic and perfumed with an incredible presence on the palate. Typically lower in acidity than Riesling, but otherwise similar in its ability to commonly be sweet or dry, Gewurztraminer is also characterized by a spiciness and a complex tropical component that some describe as lychee. The varietal is most commonly found in its native Germany, in Alsace, France, and increasingly across America.
Today’s wines focus strictly on the New World takes on this fascinating grape. Our first comes from the Riesling giants, Pacific Rim, based in Washington. The second is perhaps one of the only wines by Temecula’s Briar Rose winery that I have not yet featured on the site.
Wine #1: Pacific Rim 2008 Washington Gewurztraminer
Our first wine comes from a producer who is easily Washington’s, and possibly the entire United States’, most famous Riesling producer. Pacific Rim specializes in Rieslings in a variety of sweetness levels and production methods, but their line also includes a Chenin Blanc and a few blends. This particular wine was fermented and aged without oak, nor malolactic fermentation to preserve its freshness. With just a bit of residual sugar, this wine is built to be balanced, while still maintaining precision.
The nose is very floral, with honey, apricots, and limestone playing strongly. Citrus flowers, red peppercorns, and tropical notes of something like mango show on the edges.
It opens light, with a honeyed, gently sweet quality. Faint limestone, citrus, and peach skin mingle with apples and a bit of flint. This is a light, gentle wine, with a soft acidity and a mild flavor profile. Not as explosively complex as some Gewurztraminers but very food friendly. Easily…
Worth Trying. 86 points.
Wine #2: Briar Rose 2009 Temecula Valley Gewurztraminer
If you’ve followed my Temecula articles in the past, there’s a good chance you’ve heard the name Briar Rose. This is easily one of the most impressive wineries that I have found in the Temecula Valley and an absolute favorite of mine. Their wines represent the incredible potential that Temecula has to offer, and I love that they approach their art with such passion and commitment. Briar Rose is a premier producer specializing in intimately close wine making and small production vintages, their Gewurztraminer is no exception.
Tropical fruit and spice dominate the nose. Passion fruit, guava, limestone, honey, and an almost soapy (in a good way) perfume burst from the glass.
The palate opens very sweet, with a delicate fruit and flower flavor. Tropical fruit, limestone, and a touch of granite appear before fading into green apple and notes of citrus leaves. This is a medium bodied, nicely structured wine, with a very nice balance between smoothness and richness. The sweetness makes a clear appearance, but it is kept well controlled and integrated into the rest of the flavor profile. A well done wine, easily…
Worth Trying. 88 points.
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The Grapevine: What’s your experience with Gewurztraminer?