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Gewurtztraminer


gsquared
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One of my favourite summertime whites for al fresco dining is Gewurtz, especially when paired with seafood. Or a cold gazpacho. Down here in S.A. we have several estates producing excellent, off-dry variations. I see very little mention of it on this forum. Is Gewurtztraminer produced in the USA?

Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

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I've had a gewurztraminer from Lenz on Long Island (NY) that was pretty nice and inexpensive. No competition for an Alsatian wine probably not even at the same price, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Robert Buxbaum

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There are a number of California vintners producing very fine examples of Gewurztraminer.

The grape has long been planted in California. The Louis Martini Winery in Napa Valley has long been a proponent of this variety. They eventually planted a modest vineyard in the cooler Sonoma County Russian River appellation, having worked hard to isolate a "clone" they felt had the intensity they were looking for.

In Mendocino's Anderson Valley, you'll find fine work being done by Navarro Vineyards. They've been making noteworthy Gewurztraminer since the mid to late 1970s and also produce, from time to time, outstanding late-harvest examples of this grape.

A new, tiny property in the Anderson Valley, Londer Vineyards, also makes very good Gewurztraminer. Husch used to make very fine Gewurz, but today over-crops its vineyards and makes a rather light example.

Stony Hill Winery in Napa has also more than 40 years of producing Gewurztraminer. And quite dry, too. Their winemaker used to assist another small producer who I don't believe is operating any longer. They were called Evensen Vineyards.

One of California's leading practitioners of Gewurz is the winery of Dr. Thomas Fogarty, a Stanford cardiologist. Winemaker Michael Martella has frequently produced outstanding examples of Gewurztraminer from Monterey County-grown fruit. A vintage or two ago, the Fogarty wine was selected as the best white wine of the San Francisco International Wine Competition, a major honor besting more than a thousand other white wines.

Slightly sweeter wines have been made by Sonoma County's DeLoach Vineyards and Chateau St. Jean.

Oregon's Andrew Rich makes a fabulous dessert wine from Gewurztraminer, too, by the way. The grape probably can grow well there, but there is not a leading producing of dry style Traminer there presently.

Those who criticize the California wines for being low in acidity can also level the same criticism at many French examples of Gewurztraminer.

Italy produces some stellar examples of this grape, too, as it should, since the town of Tramin is located in the Alto Adige. Spain's Enate winery is making very fine Gewurztraminer. From Hungary, the Antinori winery (the famous Tuscan family) has had an interest in Peter's Hill and produced a very good "Tramini" as they called it. And the grape makes some marvelous wines in New Zealand.

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One of California's leading practitioners of Gewurz is the winery of Dr. Thomas Fogarty, a Stanford cardiologist.  Winemaker Michael Martella has frequently produced outstanding examples of Gewurztraminer from Monterey County-grown fruit.  A vintage or two ago, the Fogarty wine was selected as the best white wine of the San Francisco International Wine Competition, a major honor besting more than a thousand other white wines.

I have had both of these wines at farm dinners, and they were just sublime.

Also: Storrs Gewürztraminer is another one.

From SFSommelier.com's Wine of the Week archives (April 11, 2001):

Babcock Gewurztraminer "Cuvee Sublime", Santa Ynez, 2000

This small winery was founded in 1980 by Walt and Mona Babock. Their son, Bryan, is the award winning winemaker. The 80 acre winery is in the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County. This is the first vintage of their "Cuvee Sublime". The grapes were frozen after harvest to remove water. Then the frozen grapes were pressed to release the super concentrated, sweet juice. The result is lush dessert wine. It has aromas and flavors of apricot, white peaches, honey and orange peel. It has brisk acidity and a very long, sweet finish. 400 cases produced.

They also picked the Thomas Fogarty Gewurztraminer, Monterey, 2000:

Thomas Fogarty Gewurztraminer, Monterey, 2000

The winery was founded in 1981 by Dr. Thomas Fogarty, a Stanford University Cardiovascular Surgeon and prolific inventor of surgical devices. He has 25 acres of vineyards on his 325 acre estate high atop the Santa Cruz Mountains. The success of the winery is due in no small part to having the same talented winemaker since it's conception. Michael Martella planted the first vineyards on the property and has been the winemaker and viticulturist ever since. Fogarty is one of a very small number of wineries that produce Gewurztraminer. Gewürz is German for spicy and Traminer is the grape from which it mutated, which originates from the village of Termeno in the Alto Adige region of Italy. The Alsace region of France is where the Gewurztraminer grape is most widely planted and with the best results. Thomas Fogarty's 2000 Gewurztraminer has a pale gold color with aromas and flavors of fresh lychee, pineapple and wet stones. It is ripe and fruity but with a touch of spice, moderate acidity and a dry finish. Great value. 4,092 cases produced.

$12 retail

Great price for a Fogarty wine!

The CIA in Napa has a few domestic Gewürztraminers on its "Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant" wine list:

Gewurztraminer, Corazón, 2000, Anderson Valley $37

Gewurztraminer, Handley, 2000, Anderson Valley $29

Gewurztraminer, Lazy Creek, 2001, Anderson Valley $38

Gewurztraminer Dry Select, Martinelli, "Martinelli Vineyard," 2000, Russian River Valley $58

Gewurztraminer, Navarro, 2000, Anderson Valley $32

Another little item found by Googling: "Napa Valley has 107 acres of Gerwurtstraminer vines."

No fewer than a dozen California Gewurztraminers are listed here.

Edited by tanabutler (log)
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Everyone has beaten me to the suggestions I would have made, but I'll reiterate:

The Handley and the Thomas Fogarty Gewurz are both delicious. The Fogarty is currently on one of my wine lists. My personal favorite is the Lazy Creek. Best domestic gewurz I've tried, although some of the earlier vintages were "better" (I qualify this because I've never thought it was bad or unbalalnced, just different each vintage, as would be expected). Always a gorgeous rosy/lychee nose and lots of acidic backbone to stand up to the food you're serving with it. My fave with Thai food.

I suspect there may be some good gewurztraminer coming out of the Pacific Northwest sometime soon. The climate would seem ideal for this grape, although I don't know enough about the soil characteristics to confirm whether my assumption is correct. Anyone else have an inside track on this? I'm thinking if the Riesling & Pinot Blanc are as good as they are from Oregon and Washington, the gewurztraminer might do well also. Am I talking out of my butt, or does this make sense to anyone else? :hmmm:

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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I hope you're not talking out of your butt, sweet cheeks.

Ahem.

I, too, wondered about rieslings...and also Frog Leap's "Leapfrogmilch," which has that beautiful, sweet/dry combo I love in these grapes.

In a similar vein, what about the Austrian Gruner Veltliners? I love them.

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I hope you're not talking out of your butt, sweet cheeks.

It's been known to happen. And I'm no ventriloquist... 033102bigblink_1_prv.gif

I, too, wondered about rieslings...and also Frog Leap's "Leapfrogmilch," which has that beautiful, sweet/dry combo I love in these grapes.

I've seen this wine but not tried it. I suupose I was instantly skeptical as to whether the name "cuteness" marketing ploy was all there was. But I have had other Frog's Leap wines and enjoyed them, so perhaps I should get over myself and give it an honest unbiased taste, sometime.

In a similar vein, what about the Austrian Gruner Veltliners? I love them.

Yeah! I love these too. The Evil Ex was Austrian and I spent quite a bit of time visiting wineries and enjoying Gruner Veltliner from all over Austria. Absolutely delicious stuff, although not in the same category of sweet/dry as the rieslings and gewurztraminers. The wines from the Wachau area of Austria, along the Danube west of Vienna are often bone chillingly dry. Not necessarily something I'd drink on its own, but definitely a top choice with freshwater fish or white meat.

I'm still wondering if any American winemakers are experimenting with some of these other, funkier varietals and having any success. I haven't heard of any Gruner being grown here, but it would be an interesting idea if the proper vineyard sites/climate were found. My earlier musings were more geared toward the Oregon/Washington climate being suitable for all those lovely Alsatian and German varietals. That has definitely been successful, IMHO, so I wonder what criteria the vineyard owners take into account when deciding to maybe try something new and different. I realize that once they factor in their real estate costs, vinification costs and try to gauge what their income might be it's probably a losing proposition to do something different, because there's no guarantee it will be successful or whether the demand for the product or the price they can get for it makes it all economically feasible. I guess it's likelier that a larger and already established winery could afford to take the economic risk with planting a whole new varietal, and waiting all the time it would take to see if there were consumer interest or if the project wre even viable in the first place.

I guess I just answered my own question...080402ask_prv.gif

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Not only the light acidity, but not really much flavor, period.  Gundlach-Bundschu and Martinelli are two wineries that have been experimenting with it.

Here's my weekend spiel when I sell GunBun's Gewurzt (which I love, BTW):

Being the oldest family-owned winery in Norther America, Gundlach-Bundschu has been making Gewurtz for 145 years. It is our flagship white as it is made in the Alsacian style with very low (.63%) residual sugar. This means that it is not a sickly-sweet Gewurtz but one with more flowerin the nose that deceives until it hits the tongue. It is a wine with a cult following that has received numerous gold medals, fifteen years in a row. It pairs fabulously with spicy Asian food, especially Thai, and paired with a Pinot Noir is my Thanksgiving wine.

We also sell a rather famous t-shirt, picturing a circa 1950's shot of a cop standing next to an old car with the caption:

"Sonoma Valley Sobriety Test #3: If you can't say 'Gundlach-Bundschu Gewurztraminer' you shouldn't be driving."

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I hope you're not talking out of your butt, sweet cheeks.

Ahem.

I, too, wondered about rieslings...and also Frog Leap's "Leapfrogmilch," which has that beautiful, sweet/dry combo I love in these grapes.

In a similar vein, what about the Austrian Gruner Veltliners? I love them.

I have become the Ambassador of Gruner Veltliner. Last year the wine geeks called it "GV". This year it is being called "GruV" (pronounced "groovy"). It is one of the only wines that can handle artichokes, asparagus and ripe heirloom tomatoes. I have no demand for domestic gewurztraminer, therefore, I buy none. I list 7 Alsatians and one Austrian on my winelist presently.

Mark

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Carolyn:

Thank you for the information re:the Gewurztraminer. Now I shall have to call and beg for a sample bottle, as it sounds really delicious!

We also sell a rather famous t-shirt, picturing a circa 1950's shot of a cop standing next to an old car with the caption:

"Sonoma Valley Sobriety Test #3: If you can't say 'Gundlach-Bundschu Gewurztraminer' you shouldn't be driving."

:laugh: This is great! Can one procure these shirts on the winery website? IS there a winery website? Please fill me in as I believe this has to be added to my goofy wine themed T-shirt collection. My other favorties are my Ravenswood "No Vino Sin Huevos" (their standard logo "No Wimpy Wines" in Spanish) and my personal pride & joy, my "Le Bec Fin Wine Tasting Team" shirt. I'm looking into getting a "Friends Don't Let Friends Drink Bad Wine" shirt as well.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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sounds like this thread might raise the awareness level of Long Island wines.  a good thing, of course.

Why? They are generally overpriced for such a new and unproven appellation.

perhaps that's the thought in your circle of experts. however, this circle of expert thinks that 12-14 for a crisp white isn't too much. this circle of expert also appreciates when awareness is hightened. crazy, i know.

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sounds like this thread might raise the awareness level of Long Island wines.  a good thing, of course.

Why? They are generally overpriced for such a new and unproven appellation.

perhaps that's the thought in your circle of experts. however, this circle of expert thinks that 12-14 for a crisp white isn't too much. this circle of expert also appreciates when awareness is hightened. crazy, i know.

The price issues with Long Island are a secondary gripe for me; my main problem with LI wine is that it's no more compelling than wine from Texas/Virginia/etc - there just happen to be more people dumping money into building on LI so people are hearing about it. You can get better riesling/gewurtz from the Finger Lakes if you'd like to support your own state. The reds are acceptable at best - I tasted through a few hundred of them in early August and found very few that I'd consider buying even at half their asking price. Long Island has an identity crisis - you can't grow world class merlot in a climate that will support world class gewurtz and vice-versa. Sure people grow gewurtz in Napa, but they don’t think it’s at the same level as the Alsatians are making. Oh, and your $9 to $14 will buy you a bottle of Trimbach gewurtz, or pinot blanc, or riesling, or pinot gris. Whatever opinion you have about LI wines is fine with me, just don’t make me drink any more New York 50% cabernet 50% chardonnay blends.

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Just had a Columbia Crest gewurtz. I picked up on a whim from Trader Joes. Pretty weak acid, and insufficient (if any) floral/spicy nose that I associate with the grape, but not a bad food wine for the price, if you're not afraid of a little residual sugar. One can image better bottles coming from washington though.

I think Navarro is very good, though Germany may be a better deal at the moment.

Gruner veltliner is the new riesling! Is anyone growing it in the US?

EDIT TO QUOTE:

Sure people grow gewurtz in Napa, but they don’t think it’s at the same level as the Alsatians are making.  Oh, and your $9 to $14 will buy you a bottle of Trimbach gewurtz, or pinot blanc, or riesling, or pinot gris.

Right on! My favorite example is the $28 Carneros Albariño. HELLO? Rias Baixas costs half that. Unless you want to claim that Carneros is twice as good as the grape's native terroir (and somehow I suspect it's the other way around), you better find a way to sell it cheaper. I want winemakers to grow more interesting varietals here, I just want them not to gouge us for the privilege.

Edited by badthings (log)
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Carolyn:

Thank you for the information re:the Gewurztraminer.  Now I shall have to call and beg for a sample bottle, as it sounds really delicious!

We also sell a rather famous t-shirt, picturing a circa 1950's shot of a cop standing next to an old car with the caption:

"Sonoma Valley Sobriety Test #3: If you can't say 'Gundlach-Bundschu Gewurztraminer' you shouldn't be driving."

:laugh: This is great! Can one procure these shirts on the winery website? IS there a winery website? Please fill me in as I believe this has to be added to my goofy wine themed T-shirt collection. My other favorties are my Ravenswood "No Vino Sin Huevos" (their standard logo "No Wimpy Wines" in Spanish) and my personal pride & joy, my "Le Bec Fin Wine Tasting Team" shirt. I'm looking into getting a "Friends Don't Let Friends Drink Bad Wine" shirt as well.

If you see below, Tanabutler told you about the website, GunBun.com. Sadly, the t-shirt is unavailable on the site.

However, I'm sure we could make some sort of arrangement... The shirt is $15.00 and the Gewurtz is $22.00.

PM me privately and I could acquire and ship the items to you.

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sounds like this thread might raise the awareness level of Long Island wines.  a good thing, of course.

Why? They are generally overpriced for such a new and unproven appellation.

Not so new ...

The modern vines were put in by Alex & Luisa Hargrave in 1974 and as early as 1985 were recognized internationally not only for where they were headed, but what they had achieved and recieved their AVA status the following year in November of 1986. (The Finger Lakes followed in February of 1987) So the New York State AVA's predate the following from CA: Sonoma Coast, Los Carneros, Chalk Hill, Stags Leap District, Arroyo Grande Valley, Mt. Veeder, Mt Harlan.

I think that the North Fork Reds are very competitive. Especially the early releases from 2000

Long Island has an identity crisis - you can't grow world class merlot in a climate that will support world class gewurtz and vice-versa

I agreed with this until three weeks ago, when the Corey Creek Gewuztraminer floored me. I ususally look to the Finger Lakes for my cool climate varietals. Is it Alsace? No, but it's much more varietaly correct than most New World Gewurztraminers I've had and is close in style to the Italians. So far the Finger Lakes have Riesling locked up.

LI wine is that it's no more compelling than wine from Texas/Virginia/etc - there just happen to be more people dumping money into building on LI so people are hearing about it.

As a Lance Fan and a VA native I so want to be compelled but so far, save for Horton Viognier I remain distinctly unimpressed. Any recs?

Edited by Christopher (log)
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I am not sure what you guys/gals think but I am often of the opinion esp with Gewurztraminer that you shouldn't bother drinking them from "non-Gewurz growing regions". I cannot see the point of drinking a Chilean, New Zealand, Italian, Spanish, Australian example when the Germans/French (and Austrians) can make a much better one. I know that it comes down to personal taste and feel sure that somewhere in the Claire Valley there is a good Gewurz but.........

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