Monday, June 04, 2007

Spicy Whites

Do you like spicy wines? If so, you're probably thinking of zinfandel, with its cracked pepper notes, or syrah, with its clove and licorice flavors. But whites can be spicy, too, especially the perfumed white varietal gewurztraminer.

Like riesling, gewurztraminer can be made in a variety of styles from off-dry to dry, depending on the climate in which it is grown and the maker who crafts it into a wine. These days, there are a lot of gewurztraminers out there that are so floral and fruity that their spiciness can take a back seat. Unlike most young rieslings, however, gewurztraminer is a relatively full-bodied white with a satiny, sometimes oily texture in your mouth like a roussanne or a marsanne. And it has loads of perfume, like viognier. So if you like the flavor profiles of riesling, the floral aromas of viognier, and the heavy mouthfeel of marsanne and roussanne, you will probably like gewurztraminer.

Recently I had the 2005 Sineann Resonance Vineyard Gewurztraminer ($19.99, Mission Wines; available from other merchants for under $20), and it was full of perfumed, spicy gewurztraminer character. Sineann wines are made by Peter Rosback, who purchases grapes from a variety of growers in Oregon, including Kevin and Carla Chambers who farm the Resonance Vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton District AVA. The Chambers employ biodynamic viticultural practices to infuse the grapes with greater terroir, and to minimize the use of pesticides and other chemicals. Little gewurztraminer is grown in the US, which makes it hard to find a good domestic bottling for under $15, though over $15 you have more options. This gewurztraminer was made in the dry style, with appealing aromas of apple blossoms, peach, and litchi. Sipping this wine the flowers disappear, but the peach and litchi remain and along comes a warm spiciness. The spiciness carries over through the extended finish. I thought this was an outstanding example of the varietal, and excellent QPR.

I like to pair a spicy gewurztraminer like this with something equally flavorful, especially if it is Asian or Indian. With the 2005 Sineann Resonance Vineyards bottle we had a wonderful salmon fillet coated with crushed wasabi peas and lime zest. Served with stir-fried cabbage and snap peas, and accompanied by a mound of steamed jasmine rice, these foods complemented the fruity, spicy wine.

Add some spice to your life. Try a gewurztraminer.


winedeb said...

Ya know, it has been awhile since I have had a good gewurztraminer (hope I spelled that correctly). I do like the ones that are a little dryer also, like the reislings. Hum, think I will add that to my list. They make a nice summer wine!

Dr. Debs said...

You spelled it right (only way I do is to remember the short form "gewurz" and go from there). And they do make great summer wines, a little bit out of the ordinary.

David said...

I first remember tasting a gewurz at Ravenswood; that was a fun tasting though of course I came away more enamored w their zin. The recipe you've matched this with soudns great, I'll have to try the combo!