Riesling Pinot Gris Gewurztraminer Muscat d'Alsace Pinot Blanc Chasselas Pinot Noir
Alsace druvor

Gewurztraminer of Alsace

A cosmopolitian variety

Gewurztraminer is grown all over the world. The origin of the grape is assumed to be the little village Tramin in Italian Tyrol. Gewurztraminer is, according to Jancis Robinson, identical with the Traminer that is grown world-wide. The prefix Gewurz, which obviously means "spicy" is also seen in Trentino, spelled the German way Gewürztraminer.

The variety has always been popular in cold regions where the climate does not guarantee high must weight, body and power. Quite exciting interpretations are also made in California. I can still remember a stunning Jekel Gewurztraminer from Monterey County. In Sonoma, the style is often close to Vendanges tardives.

The regional flower of Alsace

There is, however, no region where Gewurztraminer enjoys such status as in Alsace. The area of Gewurztraminer is close to the values of Riesling and Pinot Blanc/Auxerrois. In addition, the variety defends its position, there is no sign of lack of interest in the grape. This is surprising in times when taste and character appears to be annoying for consumers who seek out trivial Bag-in-Box plonk.

A genuine Gewurztraminer stirs up emotions. The anything but restrained nose and the powerful, sometimes bitter taste make Gewurztraminer a personality you love or hate. However, for many lovers of Alsace wines, the first glass of Gewurztraminer was the arrow of love that caused a life-long love affair.

The nose of a Gewurztraminer should be complex. Common components are fruits (citrus, banana, litchee, pineapple, star anis) and coconut, honey, spicyness and roses. I associate the nose with the perfumed scent of the Gertrud Jekyll English rose. Some terroirs, such as Grand Cru Sporen, also give a slight smokeyness.

The taste is in harmony with the aroma. The young wine often possesses some bitterness but this tends to disappear upon cellaring. A good Gewurztraminer is recognized on its lack of stickyness.

A heavywight champion

No other variety in Alsace reaches such a dangerous combination of high must weight and low acididy as Gewurztraminer. The ratio sugar/acid is often close to 3, which is the double in comparison with Riesling. There is thus a huge risk that a Gewurztraminer will turn out flat, with a lack of structure but a surplus of sugar. Fortunately there are many producers how master this delicate problem.

Gewurztraminer is often harvested before Riesling, but after Muscat.

Gewurztraminer has a slower maturation process than Pinot Gris. Typically, harvest for generic wines is at 13.5% potential alcohol which gives a wine with 13% alcohol and 8 g/liter of residual sugar. Malo-lactic fermentation is not to think of.