Gewurtztraminer

Gewurtztraminer is a pungent pink-skinned grape variety used to produce viscous white wines. As one of the most aromatic of all varieties, Gewurtztraminer lends notes of lychee, rose, honeysuckle and ginger to full-bodied wines that are often low in acidity, but not short of personality.

Gewurtztraminer is also spelled Gewürtztraminer which, while difficult to spell, does not detract from the variety's inimitable perfume in the glass. Indeed, Gewurtztraminer is one of the first grape varieties that those new to wine fall in love with. This is likely due to the ease with which it can be identified, as it is because of the quality of the grape's wines. After all, the sheer richness of many of its wines and their exuberant aromas can prove tiring.

Gewurtztraminer is a pink-berried Musqué mutation of Traminer. Traminer is a grape that is said to hail from the northern Italian town of Tramin, in the Alto-Adige region. Ampelographers have since proven that Traminer is synonymous with Savagnin, a grape variety grown in the Jura region of northeastern France. Unlike Gewurtztraminer which, at best, is a mid-term ager, Savagnin is known for resonant and fresh wines, capable of long ageing.

Gewurtztraminer reaches its apogee on the finest Grands Crus slopes of Alsace, most south-facing and geologically meager. Here, Gewurtztraminer's small bunches and inherently low yields ripen to the point where the ensuing wines have some spine and freshness. This being said, alcohols are often well more than14 percent, exacerbated by Global Warming and in certain instances, the trend toward excessively low yields among some of the region's top producers. This trend may be highly marketable and praised among certain critics, but it is responsible for many large-framed wines that have become little more than a caricature.

Given Gewurtztraminer's low acidity, malolactic fermentation is avoided. Texture is worked into the best examples with judicious less handling, while late harvesting and botrytis serves to imbue complexity at the premium level.

Gewurtztraminer is also grown successfully in the Pfalz, in Germany; in Austria's Tyrol region, In Oregon and Washington state, and in New Zealand, where there are fresher examples than many found in Europe. Australia to date has had limited success, with many of the wines suffering from under-ripe herbaceous notes and excessive phenolics, likely because of misguided efforts to retain freshness by early picking.

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