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May 10, 2010 | by  | in Opinion |
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GEWÜRZTRAMINER

In this week’s column we head back down the aromatics road and take a look at one of the most pungent yet under -rated varietals—Gewürztraminer (Ge-vertz-tram-in-er), which is commonly known as Gewürz (Ge-vertz).

Despite gaining notoriety via France, Gewürztraminer has its origins in the German-speaking area of northern Italy, Alto Adige, hence its mouthful of a name. On that note, it could be argued that the global popularity of Gewürztraminer has been hampered somewhat by the fact that a large proportion of consumers simply struggle to pronounce the name. Don’t let such a basic factor hold you back though, the aromatic characteristics of the varietal, such as Turkish delight and clove spice, ensure that it is as seductive as they come.

Gewürztraminer tends to perform best in cooler climates, which is why many New Zealand examples are fantastic. When the grapes are perched on the vine they are pinkish/reddish in colour and have high natural sugar levels, which are the foundation of the flamboyant aromas that jump out of the wine.

The New Zealand wine industry has successfully dabbled with Gewürztraminer since the early 1970s, with Gisborne recognised as the varietal’s home in this country. In the present day, Gewürztraminer is planted in almost all wine growing regions within New Zealand, with two thirds of plantings in Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay.

Wine of the Week

This week’s wine of the week is the Spy Valley Marlborough Gewürztraminer 2009 ($17–$21), which has cleaned up a few awards recently. Spy Valley has been producing under its current name since 2000, and the winery is situated in Marlborough’s Wairau Valley near the now infamous ‘spy base’ that was shredded with sickles last year.

The 2009 Gewürztraminer is made in a fruit-driven style, which reflects delicious aromas of rose petals, Turkish delight and lychee. These particular aromas are enhanced by a ginger spiciness that gives the wine uplifting warmth.

Spicy citrus flavours coupled with a lip-smacking satisfying mouth feel make this wine a true flavour bonanza, with extremely well balanced structure and finish. It really is hard to believe that this wine retails around the $20 mark. A true bargain.

This wine would go really well with smoked salmon, a chicken Thai green curry, or jam on toast.

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