Gewürztraminer – hidden from the limelight

By Chris Love, Manager, Majestic Wine Uxbridge

ChrisLoveAt Majestic we love learning about wine and the best way to learn is by tasting! I think Gewürztraminer is a brilliant grape and doesn’t get the publicity it deserves. Its name is a little tricky to pronounce, but means it’s a perfumed or spiced variant of Traminer. We just call it “Gewurz” for short.

It’s quite a fussy grape to grow, which means it only thrives on certain soils, buds early and ripens late. Pick it too early and you get good acidity but none of the enigmatic flavours, too late and the massive sugar levels won’t have enough acidity for balance. All this comes down to is that it’s a little bit like Pinot Noir… it is best made by artisans rather than accountants!

Three of my current favourite Gewürztraminer’s in the Majestic range are…

Domaine Zind Humbrecht Gewürztraminer 2009
Buy 2 bottles save £6 = £11.99*

The grape’s spiritual home is Alsace and these are one of the greatest producers. Domaine Zind Humbrecht is owned and run by father-and-son team Léonard and Olivier Humbrecht. Olivier has the honour of being the first Frenchman to qualify as a Master of Wine. Impeccable vineyard practices have cemented the domaine as a star producer in Alsace. Barely off-dry, with just enough residual sweetness to bring out the grape’s tropical fruit and gingery spice, with plenty of acidity in the background providing plenty of refreshing lift. Perfect with smoked salmon or pungent cream cheeses, such as goat’s cheese.

Viñas del Vero Gewürztraminer 2009 Somontano
Buy 2 bottles save £4 = £5.99*

Somontano, located in the foothills of the Pyrenees, has focussed on Gewurztraminer which mainly goes to their regional restaurants. However the previously very strong restaurant trade has been hit very hard and wineries are left with stocks that they are unable to sell, and thus have had to reduce the price markedly to clear them. Hence our great buyers stepped in to bring this great wine to you at a great price!

Viñas del Vero is responsible for around 40% of wine production in this region. This Gewürztraminer comes from a plot known as ‘El Enebro’. An intense, lifted floral nose, with wafts of rose and honeysuckle amid a burst of tropical fruit. Characteristic lychee and peach flavours are delivered with a hint of sweetness and satisfying texture. Matches superbly with fragrant seafood dishes such as paella, or with mildly spiced fish dishes.

Villa Maria Private Bin Gewürztraminer 2009 East Coast
Buy 2 bottles save £5 = £7.49*

New Zealand has arguably the best conditions for it in the new world (perhaps costal southern Chile) where like with Sauvignon Blanc you get lots of aromatic ripe fruit in the wine. This wine is produced by New Zealand’s most awarded winery, from fruit sourced in Marlborough, Gisborne and Hawkes Bay, this off dry wine shows all the characters typical of Gewürztraminer. The nose is brimming with lychees and spice, which follow through to the full bodied, fruity palate. A wine that comes into its own when accompanying spicy South-East Asian dishes.

*Prices valid until 2nd May 2011

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