Gewürztraminer: Varietal of the Month

Marcy Gordon on Sep 3, 2019

Bottles of Gewurztraminer on top of a barrel

Are you stuck in a white wine rut? Do you stick to the tried and true Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris, with perhaps a Riesling here and there? If so, it’s time to expand your white wine horizons and Gewürztraminer is a delicious place to start.

Gewürztraminer is a medium body, dry white wine lighter than a Chardonnay and heavier than a Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigo. Gewürz means spice in German and the grape hails from Alsace the French wine region bordering Germany. It’s a cool climate grape that exhibits great floral aromatics and refreshing spicy flavors such as lychee, passion fruit, lime, honeysuckle and ginger with a dry, crisp finish.

Sometimes we shy away from certain wines just because they are hard to pronounce, or have weird accent marks like that funny umlaut over the ü—but don’t let that stop you. God knows I’m the master of mispronunciations. But it’s not hard to say once you get the hang for it
ge·​würz·​tra·​mi·​ner—pronounced [ge-VOORTZ-tra-meener]—or just cut to the chase and call it Gewürz. Either way your palate will thank you.

Below are capsule reviews of six Gewürztraminer producers you can find along the Wine Road.

Bottles of Gewürz with glasses
Taste of Gewürz Alexander Valley Vineyards, J. Ricards, and Balleto

Alexander Valley Vineyards 2018 Gewurztraminer Mendocino County

The attractive wood cut illustrations on the label sets the mood for this beautiful example of Gewürz made with organic grapes from Mendocino County. Pale yellow in color, with a bright nose of peach, grapefruit pith and bosc pear with a hint of sandalwood. It’s bursting with flavors of ginger, passion fruit and lychee. Bright minerality with good acidity and a light crisp, yet creamy finish.

Williamson Wines 2018 “Gertie” Gewurztraminer, Russian River Valley

Soft off-white color with a tinge of gold with a gorgeous aromatic bouquet of white lavender and violets. “Gertie” delivers a dry, yet juicy mouthful of lychee, mango, peach, and honeysuckle-lime. Lovely harmonious balance of acidity and tannin with a clean bright finish. Great as an aperitif or paired with Indian, Thai, or Moroccan cuisine. 

Balletto Vineyards 2018 Gewürztraminer, Russian River Valley

The most delicate aromatic white floral bouquet almost belies the rich body and sultry palate full of ginger spice, lush ripe nectarine, pear and lychee with a through line of toasted nuts. Light straw gold color with pleasant acidity and firm, yet supple tannins. Beautiful and complex with a long lingering finish it can pair well with light spicy dishes or even more hearty such as turkey or pork roast.

Bottles of Gewurztraminer with wine in glass
Tasting Mietz, Williamson Wines, and Optima

Optima 2018 Gewürztraminer, Dry Creek Valley

Pretty pink-tinged pale yellow color, this dry Gewürztraminer emits aromatics of crushed rose petals and spicy carnation. Good crisp acidity and medium light tannins with vivid rich flavors of candied ginger, sour peach, ripe honeydew melon and basil-lime. Wonderful texture, long creamy round finish with final notes of nutmeg and orange peel.

Mietz Cellars 2017 Gewürztraminer, Russian River Valley

Medium yellow gold color with distinct perfumed floral nose. Very subtle and light bodied featuring flavors of apricot, quince, cantaloupe and a touch of clove. 13.5% ABV with a zesty burst of initial acidity and a mellow mineral finish. Pair with spicy BBQ, sushi or even with carrot cake.

J. Rickards Winery 2018 GVM White Blend 35% Gewürztraminer, Dry Creek and Alexander Valley

This blend is 35% Gewürztraminer, 33% Viognier and 32% Muscat Blanc. Pale yellow color with orange peel, peach, honey and pear nose. Creamy rich flavor that feels somewhat Viognier dominant, yet holds true to varietal characteristics of Gewürztraminer with ginger and apricot flavors and nice soft mouth feel.

Posted by Marcy Gordon

Marcy Gordon is a freelance wine and travel writer. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications including Wine Enthusiast, San Francisco Chronicle, Sonoma Magazine, The California Travel Guide, and Forbes Travel Guide. In 2017 she was awarded a fellowship to the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers. She is the co-host of the award winning Wine Road Podcast.

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