It’s time for the next instalment of the Noble Grape Challenge. Last time we learned what Moscato is all about, and this time around we get to know a grape that often leaves people confused – Gewurztraminer.
About the Noble Grape Challenge
Let’s refresh ourselves on what’s going on here – Wine Folly created the Noble Grape Challenge as a way to learn the spectrum of flavours and characteristics found in red and white wines. Taking nine reds and nine whites and going through them from lightest to darkest, we’ll learn about the key characteristics and flavours of each.
About Gewurztraminer (or ‘the G grape’)
Gewurztraminer (said ‘gertz-TRAM-in-er’) is such a unique grape. I know that word gets thrown around quite a lot these days, but it is really true of Gewurz (said ‘guh-VER-ts’).
What makes it so unique, you might ask? It’s a combination of things, really.
It’s one of the few full bodied whites, so right off the bat it’s special. It also has a distinctly floral nose, which is fairly rare, even in white wines. The fruit you find in Gewurztraminer is also pretty rare, lychee being the Gewurz giveaway.
Possibly the most unique trait of Gewurz is the way it feels on the palate. It’s quite rich and, surprisingly for someone new to the grape, oily. If you’re not sure what I mean then I encourage you to take advantage of the next time you see a Gewurztraminer in your local wine shop and give it a try.
I have to be honest with you, it has taken me a loooooong time to not hate Gewurztraminer. It’s still not my favourite varietal but I have grown to appreciate its florality and heaviness on the palate. It took some work (including a tasting designed by my stepdad of six – SIX! – Gewurztraminers) but it’s earned a place in my regular wine drinking rotation.
The Test Case
Today’s test case is from Angel’s Gate winery in Niagara.
Niagara isn’t the reigning champ of Gewurz (that crown goes to the Alsace), but that’s not to say Niagara doesn’t make great Gewurztraminer wine. It is often textbook in comparison to the great wines of the Alsace and offers me yet another opportunity to taste something local and share my love of Niagara wine.
- My less-than-stellar photography skills don’t do it credit, but this wine has a really pretty bright straw colour. It’s more saturated than most white wines I come across, which already makes me want to take a sip.
- Ugh, I don’t get much off the nose. Which isn’t to say that there isn’t much to get – I’m starting to think that my nose isn’t as good as my palate when it comes to wine tasting. I’ll keep trying…
- Let’s check out the palate instead. The first thing I notice is that yes, it’s deliciously full bodied and the oily characteristic is there. In terms of flavours I get some white pepper, apricot, and yellow apple. As much as I want to find some lychee I don’t, which I think might be a sign that that particular flavour might be specific to the Alsace and not something easily recreated in Niagara.
- Ok, I let the wine open up a bit and went back to checking out the nose. I do get some straw or dough thing happening, but it’s throwing me off because that’s not what I’m used to smelling on a Gewurz. The best I can get is some yellow fruit. I know, that’s not even a thing! It’s not quite as bright as lemon. Maybe it’s the apricot and yellow apple that I got on the palate? I might also just need to admit that this wine’s nose is too subtle for me to pick up and pick apart. Sigh.
Despite having trouble with the nose I really like this wine. I am in a big full bodied white phase so already tackling Gewurz was a welcome challenge. It also helps that white wines are a go hot weather go-to and we’re currently going through a bit of a late summer heat wave in Toronto.
Next time on NGC – one of my favourite white wines, Semillon.