Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Aromatic Grapes: Gewürztraminer!

Lychee, rose petals, honey, orange blossom, ginger, and bergamot are some of the adjectives used to describe Gewürztraminer wines. Its name comes originally form the German Gewürz, which means spicy. Yet for me, this wine is not so much spicy, as it is perfumed and very floral.  


Gewürztraminer comes from the village of Tramin, located in North Italy’s Alto Adige region, where it is known as Tramino Aromatico, and according to ampelographer Pierre Galet, it is a mutation of Savagnin Rosé. Gewürztraminer belongs to the group of aromatic grapes. We can consider this grape, an extrovert, always forcing you to pay attention, this is due to its intense and unique nose that jumps out of your glass, and makes it super easy to identify, when tasting this blind. 


The three best places to find Gewürztraminer are in Alsace (France), Southern Germany & Trentino-Alto Adige (Italy). All these spots have one thing in common, they are cool but sunny places, which is exactly what this grape needs. Too much sun or heat will sweep away its acidity and its fine aromas. For this reason only, it is not planted in warm climates, meaning, most of the new world. It buds early so it’s susceptible to frosts and viruses and ripens in mid season, preferring to mature very slowly. It also suffers from uneven ripening, that can seriously affect yields.

In Alsace, it is considered one of the four noble varieties, next to Riesling, Muscat and Pinot Gris. There, it yields full bodied wines with more alcohol than their German or Italian counterparts. In Germany, it does best in the southern appellations of Pfalz and Baden, where it’s warmer than in the Mosel. And of course, it does very well in its birthplace the Alto Adige, where wines tend to be lighter and more acidic than Alsatian styles.

In the new world, we must stick to a few cool climate spots. New Zealand is a good match, with good wines coming from Gisborne, Hawkes Bay and Marlborough. In Australia, there are good spots in Tasmania and Victoria. In California, it can do well in Monterey, Sonoma, Mendocino and Russian River Valley (all places that enjoy the cool Pacific ocean influence). Good results can be also found in Oregon and Washington state.


Gewürztraminer prefers well drained soils with plenty of minerals, especially limestone. Different soils will affect the color of its skins, limestone yields pink skinned grapes, while gravel yields purple skinned grapes. It’s a very vigorous variety, so its yields must be kept very low, with serious pruning.  

Stylistically, Gewürztraminer produces full bodied whites with high alcohol, it is easy to find wines with 14.5 plus % alcohol levels. Acidity is usually low or balanced, this is the reason why, all malolactic fermentation is avoided in an effort to keep the wines fresh. Wines can be dry, even though their floral nose, and also off-dry and sweet. Make sure to ask your wine store clerk before you make your purchase, if you have doubts. 

Wines marked as SGN (Sélection de Grains Nobles) or VT (Vendange Tardive) are categories designated as dessert wines and are always sweeter styles. This is due to the extra hang-time these grapes get to make them. In the case of SGN, the grapes are affected by noble rot, concentrating the aromas, flavors and sugars even further.  


Because of Gewürztraminer's fine and intense aromatics, most wineries avoid oak aging. Most wines are designed to be consumed young, but best samples can age for up to 10 years. Late harvest wines (Vendange Tardive) or Sélection de Grains Nobles can age for much more (20 years+). 


New releases I have tasted lately:  

I'm such a girly girl, I admit it, I love floral wines! Many thanks to Broadbent Selections, Taub Family Selections, Vineyard Brands and Kobrand Wines & Spirits for such a fine selection of samples, you spoiled me! (I should have asked for 2 bottles, instead of my usual 1, love to enjoy some of these during Summer!).


Spy Valley Gewürztraminer 2018, Marlborough, NZ $24.99

Divine nose full of lychee, white peach and rose notes. This full-bodied white features 14.5 % yet very balanced alcohol. Simply delicious and refreshing!

Zind-Humbrecht Gewürztraminer 2020, Alsace, France $29.99

Textbook Gewürztraminer nose filled of red grapefruit, spicy ginger and rose petals. Medium plus bodied and very flavorful, featuring a very mineral laden finish. From biodynamic grown grapes.

Trimbach Gewürztraminer 2017, Alsace, France $29.99

Intense yet harmonious featuring expressive melon, bergamot, lychee and cinnamon notes. Very luscious structure, with a seductive but dry finish.

Kurtatsch Kellerei Cantina Brenntal Gewürztraminer Riserva 2018, Alto Adige, Italy, $45

Delicious notes of mango, lychee and candied orange peel in this full-bodied white, made from organic grapes. Ageing on its lees for a full year, makes this wine extra creamy and dense, a true white Powerbomb!


 Cheers! Silvina  


#Gewürztraminer #thoughtsoflawina #aromaticwines #aromaticgrapes #funwinesforsummer #drinkupwineamerica

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Tuesday, June 7, 2022

My faves from James Suckling's Great Wines of the World Tasting in New York


Those that know me, know that attending wine tastings is one of my favorite things in the whole world and boy, was I treated last Friday! When I was lucky to attend James Suckling’s Great Wines of the World event. If you are passionate about wine like I am, this is just the ultimate wine experience, to be able to taste so many wonderful and expensive wines in one setting. Yet, before I start mentioning some of the gems, I had the pleasure of tasting, allow me to thank the man who made it all possible, Mr. James Suckling! Thank you so much for allowing us (press and trade) to attend this event for free! (tickets were $200).
I was not only impressed with the fine selections of wines you put together, but also the set up of your event, it was a breeze for us (tasters) that you grouped your fine selection in ascending order of body, from light to big. My only complaint was not having enough time to taste everything that was offered! Overall, I think I did pretty well, managing to taste 82 of the 246  wines offered in only 2 hours and half. Some of which, I will recognize, didn’t end up in the spittoon! Indeed,  they were just too good not to swallow them! And though you managed to include wines from every country that produces fine wine these days, the South American selection was truly unbelievable! For the first time, it made me very happy to see so many great Chilean and Argentinian wines side to side.  I was also impressed with the selections from Oregon and California, as well as the selection of Italian wines (Barolo and Brunello especially). To my surprise, some of the producers chose to show two vintages of the same wine, allowing us little people, to experience the evolution/ development of some of these fantastic wines. As you can tell, I was literally in wine heaven, so again thank you!

Here are my favorites of the night! For my reader’s convenience, I  added the suggested retail price per bottle, in NYC.  I started my wine tour with Champagne, there were only 2 Champagne tables in the whole event, yet attendees had the pleasure of tasting what is known as a Hollywood’s favorite: Louis Roederer Champagne Cristal 2014, $350.  Next, I moved on to New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with two fantastic samples: Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough Taylor Pass Vineyard 2021, that was your typical passion fruit laden white and a true value at only $25 and the more mineral, terroir driven Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough Te Koko 2019 at $65.  Yet for me, the best white of the night went to Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2019, at $250. Once again, Burgundy continues to be the best place to craft some of the most elegant Chardonnays in the world.  Then I set off to taste some reds and I continued with 3 delicious Oregon Pinot NoirsBergstrom Pinot Noir Dundee Hills 2019, $110, Domaine Serene Pinot Noir  Dundee Hills Evenstad Reserve 2018, $80 and Ponzi Vineyards Pinot Noir Chehalem Mountain Estate Grown Reserve 2018, $65 oozing an incredible floral, rose driven bouquet.  

Next came Italy with some fine samples of Sangiovese, such as the Barone Ricasoli Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Colledilà 2018, $80, and some Brunello: Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova 2017, $110.  Castiglion del Bosco Brunello di Montalcino 2017, $65 Frescobaldi Brunello di Montalcino Castelgiocondo 2016, $70. And the beautiful labeled Luce della Vite Brunello di Montalcino 2017, $120. After that, I moved on to two wonderful Barolo: Bruno Giacosa Falletto Barolo Falletto Vigna Le Rocche Riserva 2016, $750 and Pio Cesare Barolo Ornato 2018, $165. 

There were several California wines, yet my favorite was one that I had tasted many times before, Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley, Georges de Latour Private Reserve 2018, $130.  Another new world delicious sample was the Penfolds Shiraz Barossa Valley Bin 798 RWT 2019,$180, very powerful and fruit driven! Continuing with this theme of Syrah and Rhone blends, two fine samples from the Rhone Valley,  Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 2019,$98 and Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage La Chapelle 2017 and 2007, $250 respectively. 
From there, I moved to South America and from Chile, I tasted 4 wonderful samples of Maipo Cabernet Sauvignon: Viña Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon Puente Alto 2019, $150,  Seña Valle de Aconcagua 2015 $150, Almaviva Puente Alto 2019, $165, and Baron Philippe de Rothschild Chile Valle del Maipo Baronesa P 2019 (tasted earlier during lunch, thank you Escudo Rojo for the invite!) $65. Chile is also known for its fantastic Syrahs, and nobody does it better than Aurelio Montes, and his savory Montes Syrah Valle de Apalta Folly 2018,$95.  
For the last part, a set of impressive Argentinian reds, like the Achaval Ferrer Malbec, Mendoza Finca Bella Vista 2018, $150, or  the Terrazas de los Andes Malbec Paraje Altamira, Valle de Uco, Los Castaños Parcel N 2 W 2018, $100, but the best red and the best wine of the night was for me the Catena Zapata Malbec Argentino 2019, $120, served by Nicolas’ youngest daughter Adrianna who was at the event, showing her own wines she sells under “El Enemigo” label.  Finally, I had to end the evening with three sweet wines, a delicious Oremus Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos 2013, $165 and two ports, Taylor Fladgate’s 10 year old Tawny at $25  and Taylor Fladgate’s Vintage Port 2017 at $120. 
Hoping you will taste some of these soon! Cheers, Silvina.
#thoughtsoflawina #Jamessuckling #GreatWinesoftheWorld,  #WineEvent, #WineTasting,# WineTour