A few weeks ago we did a blind tasting internally of our own 2016 Gewurztraminer against our competition. The high quality of our own wine against our competition was really a nice morale booster. I believe we have mastered Gewurztraminer winemaking like few have: our wine is aromatic and intense, but not monodirectional, it is not too dry but also not sweet – the balance and complexity of our Gewurztraminer is just incredible. And I don’t think we are the only one to notice that truth: Wine Spectator has rated our Gewurzt as the top Washington Gewurzt since 2009 with 90 points in 2015 and 90 points in 2013 (the 2016 is not rated yet) AND Wine Enthusiast magazine is often rating our Gewurztraminer 90 points and above.
I would attribute our success with this variety to three factors. First, as a winemaking team, we are in tune with northern Europeans aromatic white wines – those wines talk to us and we have the right sensibility to make those styles – we love the tension between intense aromatics and a hint of residual sugar for example. Second, we get our Gewurztraminer grapes from a cooler north facing Yakima Valley (in the Snipes Mountain AVA precisely) vineyard. The Ramos vineyard, as it is called, does not ripen too fast which allows for the full aromatic development of the Gewurztraminer bouquet. Third we do an overnight skin contact and shy away from correcting the high pH of Gewurztraminer which together tend to intensify the varietal aromas of this exuberant variety.
Gewurztraminer is one of the most aromatic and distinct wine grape variety in the world often displaying aromas of lychee, Turkish delight and tropical fruit. The grapes are a lovely pink color and the resulting wine always seems a little coppery in the glass. The combination of the exuberant aromatics and the slight coppery tinge makes Gewurztraminer very different from any other white wine. Gewurztraminer is an early ripener that needs some hang time to develop its full aromatic potential which often leads to late picking, itself leading to high alcohol levels and low acidities. Alsace is where most of the Gewurztraminer vines are planted and about one fifth of the region’s area is dedicated to the variety. It is made there in all sort of styles but is most commonly found as a dry style – lucky are the consumers finding Vendanges Tardives or Selection de Grains Noble sweet styles from Alsace. Outside Alsace the main region growing Gewurzt would be in California (about half the acreage found in Alsace) and apart from Alsace and California many regions throughout the world grow a small amount of it including Washington State.
Gewurztraminer is a treat with complex aromatic food and for that reason is often recommended with Indian cuisine and curries or for the Thanksgiving smorgasbord American dinner. While I like those combinations I also love Gewurztraminer with stinky French cheeses or with seafood tacos.
Give a try to Gewurztraminer. Our Ramos vineyard is barely off dry and will offer you an intense sensory experience as well as a delicious point of conversation with friends.