Riesling and Gewürztraminer–Two Varieties, One Wine
By Martha Gioumousis
Ten years ago, Atwater Estate Vineyards had an abundance of Gewürztraminer grapes, and consequently, the next spring the winery had an abundance of Gewürztraminer wine. Owner Ted Marks and winemaker Vinny Aliperti sat down to brainstorm: What to do with all that wine? The solution was to create a new blend combining Riesling with the Gewürztraminer. Thus Riewürz (pronounced Ree-verts) was born and has been a customer favorite ever since.
“Blending Riesling with Gewürztraminer tamps down some of the strong floral qualities of Gewürtztraminer, and makes the wine brighter and more approachable, especially for those not familiar with Gewürztraminer,” Aliperti says.
Riewürz is always made in a dry style, combining the rich aromas of roses, lychee nuts with spices like clove and allspice—from the Gewürztraminer component—and finishing with flavors of apricot and lime—from the Riesling.
Both lots are fermented and tank-aged separately, then combined together to create the final wine. Gewürztraminer grapes are typically cold-soaked on the skins, then pressed the next day. This develops the characteristics of the wine, including mouthfeel and richness of aromas. As this blended wine has grown in popularity, Aliperti has leaned toward skipping this step for the Riewürz component, and even barrel fermenting some of the varietal Gewürztraminer, further differentiating the two wines.
This year’s release of 2014 Riewürz is a 50/50 blend of the two varieties. “Lots of tasting and experimentation goes into finalizing the blend,” Aliperti explains. “We experiment with many different tanks of Riesling, plus we are looking for the percentages that fit best. Acidity and tree fruit flavors from the Riesling, spiciness and aromatics from the Gewürztraminer.”
Atwater has produced Riewürz about every other year since the first batch in 2004. Now, two other wineries have come forth with a Riesling/Gewürztraminer blended wine. Goose Watch Winery has 2013 Riesling-Gewürztraminer, made from 60-percent Riesling and 40-percent Gewürztraminer; while Wagner Vineyards created 2013 Fathom 107, a wine commemorating the winery’s 35th anniversary, blended from 65-percent Riesling and 35-percent Gewürztraminer. Keep an eye out for these on your next wine trail visit!
Atwater Estate Vineyards 2014 Riewürz, $16.00
Goose Watch Winery 2013 Riesling-Gewurztraminer, $15.99
Wagner Vineyards 2013 Fathom 107, $19.99
Martha Gioumousis is a winemaker, wine writer and editor of Finger Lakes Wine Gazette and coordinator for the Tompkins County Community Beautification Program.