Tasted February 13th, 2011

Though rather cumbersome to pronounce, Gewurztraminer (Guh-verts-tra-mee-ner) is one of the most enjoyable white wines to sip both on its own and with food. The history of this grape dates back centuries and likely stems from Italy's Traminer grape.   Over time, the green Traminer has evolved/mutated to become the pink-skinned Gewurz-traminer that we are familiar with today.   Gewurtz literally means 'spicy' but these wines tend to display more floral characteristics than actual spice.  

Today we sampled three labels from Alsace, one from Ontario, and another from Chile.  The vintages span from 2001 to a very rescent 2010 and touch three continents each famous for its own style and winemaking technique.  

2008 Wunsch et Mann, Alsace, France
2008 Malivoire, Ontario, Canada
2003 Dopff 'au Moulin', Alsace, France
2010 Cono Sur - Vision, Chile
2001 Pierre Sparr, Alsace, France

We began with the 2008 Wunsch et Mann from Alsace which showed a lovely nose of citrus and spice.  On the palate the wine was initially quite subdued but after an hour or so came alive with clean flavours of white fruit;  'the perfect summer sipper' someone said.   Next up was Ontario's 2008 Malivoire from the Beamsville Bench sub-appellation of the Niagara Peninsula.  Quite different from the first wine, this one was nearly colourless not showing any evidence of the pink skinned grapes from which it was pressed. The Malivoire smelled of peaches and soap, interesting; a bigger wine, fuller in the mouth while still displaying the typical Gewurztraminer flavours; a little flat on the mid-palate but on the whole a nice wine with just a touch of effervescence.  Third in the lineup was an older French bottling from Dopff of Alsace:  the color here definitely showed the wine's age:  deep yellow but with ripe citrus notes and a pronounced sweetness on the palate; 'delicate' in a word, soft, flavourful but at the same time very different in terms of Gewurztraminer.  Moving to the southern hemisphere, we sample a wine from Chile, the 2010 Cono Sur, single vineyard Gew├╝rztraminer. South America has exploded on to the wine scene in recent years with a plethora of great wines and this effort is no different:  definitely of the 'new world' in terms of aroma and flavour:  peach - and lots of it, lychee fruit and some apple plus a touch of sparkle here too; quite lovely.  Last in line was the 2001 Pierre Sparr Reserve:  at 10 years old, this wine unfortunately was on its slow decline having past its peak a few years ago.  This sample lacked much of the character that Sparr is famous for.  It's worth searching out a more resent bottling of this wine for a more accurate assessment of its potential. 

The group tasted and ranked the wine in terms of personal preference.  The top three wines are listed below in order of their ranking:
  1. 2008 Wunsch et Mann
  2. 2003 Dopff  'au moulin'            
  3. 2010 Cono Sur 
The favourite of the day, by far, was the Alsatian Wunsch et Mann, while the second and third place wines ranked so closely together that it seems almost unfair to differentiate between the two. Interestingly, the wine of the day, the '08 Wunsch et Mann is the producer's entry level effort which was preferred over several other 'premium labels' which once again demonstrates that by not revealing details such as cost, grading, and vintage conditions, the group is left only with their love of wine and personal preference for style and taste; a clear demonstration that the best wines are not always the most expensive.

Certainly one of the most enjoyable tastings from my perspective - Thank you everyone for participating and for the generous donations from our membership.

See you next month for the seductive taste of Amarone... I'm already working on the appetizers!