Archive | September, 2018

Gewurztraminer: Alsace and Warm Weather Pairings

21 Sep

Through summer and fall, Gewurztraminer wines from d’Alsace can be the perfect companion for transitioning seasons, perhaps even more with late summer’s outdoor events of festivals, fairs, and concerts.

What’s not to love, with a wine that can rock the heat of summer, or the insane depths of winter?

I mixed and matched these wines for a series of weeks to pair with a bevy of spicy, warm-weather dishes.

 

Beck-Hartweg Dambach-La-Ville Gewuztraminer 2016, Alsace, France. 13%ABV, SRP$20/bottle

Pale straw in color. The nose has a pear and dried apricot with distinctive notes of clove and gunpowder. Superbly dry with a floral mouthfeel followed by fresh ginger note on the finish. On my initial tasting, this wine paired easily with a summer salad of mixed greens with chicken breast, sliced almonds, grape tomatoes, red onion, fresh sweet peas and slices of tangerine. Several subsequent pairings worked nicely with turkey and a chutney sauce, Indian curry, and Asian stir-fry.

 

Gustav Lorentz Gewuztraminer Réserve 2016. Alsace, France.  13.5% ABV, SRP $24/bottle.

Color is an off-clear translucent with a nose of fresh rose petals. On the palate, lychee, fresh pear and citrus are subdued by delightful floral characteristics, showing notes of lilac, african violet, and green cuttings. This is a glamorous wine with a sense of prestige when it hits the mouth. This reserve gewurztraminer goes down so easily you’ll be eager for the second bottle! But beyond drinking delightfully by itself, it pairs SO easily with any kind of summer fare, from American BBQ to spicy Mexican, from Spanish Tapas to grilled seafood.

 

 

 

 

Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Gewurztraminer Calcaire 2016, Alsace, France. 13.5% ABV, $43/bottle SRP

Color is medium straw.  Lychee, tangerine zest and mango on the nose. Very dry on the palate, heat surges across the back palate, sweet nose wafts up while pear drives the fruit home. Lovely mineral finish with sodium and calcium notes. 

18 months in aged French oak, 30 year old vines. This is a gorgeous wine that punches far beyond its price and weight class. One of my favorite pairing meals was grilled flounder served with a spicy habanero chutney.Total perfection: Italian bruschetta: toasted baguette rubbed with raw garlic, coated with diced plum tomatoes that have been tossed with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, topped with a fresh basil leaf. By the same token, NY’s “grandma” pizza which has a zestier sauce, a thinner and crisper dough on the square crust, sometimes a touch more sauce ladled on to of the fresh mozzarella.

 

 

 

 

Each of these wines stayed true with a post-meal cheese course, cleansing the palate beautifully for delicate goat cheese, gouda, and a soft blue.

Shocking surprise pairing #1: barbecued pineapple with grilled meat. Whether you grill beef, chicken, pork, lamb, or a combination- the citrus of the gewurztraminer will enhance the sweetness of the grilled fruit (peach and pineapple are my personal favorite) along with the smoke and char on the meat. Simple citrus marinades are your friend here!

Shocking surprise pairing #2: spicy chicken wings and hot chicken strips. Do you like teriyaki or buffalo wings? Anything with Frank’s Hot Sauce deserves a splash of Alsace Gewurztraminer to pair!

But just don’t take my word for it- get your hands on some Vins d’Alsace and share your thoughts with us!

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A Surprise Merlot for Rosh Hashana!

10 Sep

Alexander Winery, 2009 Reserve Merlot, Galilee, Israel.  %13.5 ABV. Found online for $37/bottle. Ⓤ𝖯

 

 

The decade=plus of age on this bottle made me reach for it when it was time to choose wines for a special dinner to celebrate Rosh Hashana the Jewish New Year.

Of the four wines I chose (a Napa Sauvignon Blanc, a full-bodied Bordeaux Blanc, a delicate Burgundy pinot, and a full-bodied, reserve red), I was not expecting the merlot to be the breakout. But it was, hands-down, the crowd favorite.

Dinner began with slices of apple with honey to bring in a sweet new year, and then spicy flounder cakes and Israeli cucumber salad. For the main course, coq au vin with garlic-balsamic Brussel sprouts made me think that the Burgundy would be the star wine for the evening.

Not according to my guests! They loved the full-bodied yet soft mouthfeel of the supple merlot from Northern Galilee. They adored it with the fish, and sang its praises with the fowl- especially pairing with the savory dark meat and the vegetable courses.

Color is deep purple with garnet edging. The nose is a rich blueberry compote with menthol and vanilla bean. On the palate, a robust burst of blackberry, plum, and cranberry. Solid acidity leads into a firm slice of heat across the top palate. Secondary notes of mocha, toasted oak, green herbs, and a touch of clove. Succinctly dry, with a long finish. Our guests wanted more to taste, took pictures of the bottle, googled the winery and importer

I kept tasting back and forth with the wines, and personally loved this wine’s pairing with the dark meat chicken, as well as the plum cake and flourless chocolate cakes served for dessert. In the $24-40 range, it is a lovely choice for a bottle with this heritage and age (though it could certainly handle another five years!) Without a doubt this wine is a win, worthy of your table for the holidays or any day that you want to make special.

 

#WIYG?

 

Share with me- what’s in your glass, what wine is gracing your table this week? Click the link below and let us know!

 

à votre santé!

 

Gewürztraminer: Alto Adige!

2 Sep

In 2008 I traveled to Italy and spent a week in Tyrol, a region of the former Hapsburg empire that is home to the Alto Adige region of Northern Italy and a southern portion of Austria that includes Innsbruck.

Tirol Region Map, Courtesy of Wikipedia

 

 

The largest city in the Alto Adige region is Bolzano, but we stayed in the smaller town of Merano, at the luxury Park Mignon Hotel, enjoying the accommodations and tremendous food from the five-star resort. During my time here, I drank the local wines suggested by the somm, which including brilliant Lagrein, stunning Schiava, and gorgeous, high-quality Gewürztraminer. The region grows MANY grapes and I’d be remiss to not mention the local Chardonnay, their first-class Pinot Grigio, the Pinot Bianco, their focused Pinot Noir and Pinot Nero, as well as the flowery, delicate Müller-Thurgau, among others! But let’s get back to Gewürztraminer!

Today’s REASON to talk about my 2008 trip to Italy was the revelations I had with Italy’s white wines. I had tasted  Gewürztraminer before, knowing it as a floral, aromatic, off-dry, and spicy wine. But early in my youth, I’d had a bad first impression. My first Gewürztraminer had been a less expensive wine and I recalled it being sweet, fruity, and flowery- and not impressive. My experience in Alto Adige could not have been more different, and what was considered “just daily table wines” were Gewürztraminers that were beautifully balanced with dry fruit, sweet aromas, laser-focused acidity and a plethora of spice notes that enchanted my palate with a melange of flavors and nuance.

 

St. Michael-Eppan Gewürztraminer 2017, Südtirol, Alto Adige, Italy. 13.5% ABV, Found locally for $16-18/bottle.

 

 

Color is medium straw with a greenish tinge. On the honeyed nose are apricot, passionfruit, rose bush, citrus, violet and white pepper. The palate is laden with spicy fruit -pear, lychee, lime zest, and young pineapple- followed by notes of ginger root, pepper, spice box and a medium-long finish with Meyer Lemon rind, limestone and a hint of clay. 

This wine has flexibility. It could be enjoyed in the afternoon sunshine as an apéritif, but is ideal when elevating delicate flavors of veal, lobster, corn chowder or freshly summer vegetables.  Also ideal for the summer heat and foods with serious spice from Indian curry to African tagines, from Chinese sauces to Latin foods- this wine is capable of taking the spice and heat from the food and cleaning your palate with a fabulously spicy, sweet wash with a splash of acidity- like the lemon on your fish or the lime squeezed over fajitas as they hit your plate. Few white wines have enough strength to cleanse the palate after hot pepper sauce, but this bottle proved up to the task when I made extra-spicy fajitas and a side of Frank’s hot wings!

For that reason alone, I decided I should keep a few bottles of Gewürztraminer in the cellar to beat the late summer/early autumn heat while being able to pair with any range of spice profile that might appear, from the delicate to the powerful,  all in a package that wine drinkers easily enjoy, and in the under-$20 range that everyone can afford. Any why not? These wines can age from 5-20 years in the cellar, though mine never get a chance before I pop the cork to share with friends.

If you have the opportunity to travel to Bolzano or Merano, you can’t help but appreciate the beautiful vineyards that cover the countryside- but if you just want to dream about it today, all you need is a bottle of this St. MIchael-Eppan Süditirol/Alto Adige Gewürztraminer. Your mouth will think you’re arrived!


A view from one of my afternoon hikes in Merano, Italy.

 

à votre santé!

 

 

 

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