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Wines of the Season: Gewürztraminer

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Gewürztraminer: Tough on the tongue, delicious on the palate

By Ray Pompilio

Hard to pronounce, Finger Lakes Gewürztraminer is easy to enjoy. Pronounced “Guh-VERTZ-tra-mean-er,” this white wine offers wonderful aromas and tastes of rose petals, lychees and sometimes tropical fruit, with most of the local wines ranging from dry to semi-dry.

It is the most widely planted variant of Traminer, also known as Savagnin Blanc in France. Traminer dates back to about 1827 in Germany, where the word “Gewürz” means spicy. It is planted throughout Europe with the largest concentration found in Alsace, France.

The grape does well in cooler climates—in coastal areas of California, Oregon and, of course, in the Finger Lakes. Our region had about 150 acres planted in 2006 according to census data and there are about 20-30 FLX wineries producing Gewürztraminer now, with several offering more than one bottling.

The grape ripens with a pink-colored skin, filled with flavors but a lower acidity than Riesling. The wines are usually cool-fermented in stainless steel, with a few wineries experimenting with some fermentation and partial aging in oak barrels. Local Gewürztraminers are mostly full-bodied and their spicy aromas and flavors stand up well to a variety of foods. Pair this with poultry, pork and shrimp, as well as roasted vegetables and moderately spiced Thai and Indian dishes.

A Finger Lakes Gewurztraminer Sampler

Standing Stone Vineyards 2017
Dr. Konstantin Frank 2017
Keuka Spring Vineyards 2017
Damiani Wine Cellars 2017 Barrel-Fermented
Red Newt Wine Cellars 2011 Curry Creek Vineyard
Bellangelo Winery 2014
Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard 2017
Lakewood Vineyards 2017
Zugibe Vineyards 2017
Lucas Vineyards 2017
Weis Vineyards 2017
Ravines Wine Cellars 2017
Wagner Vineyards 2017 Semi-Dry
Glenora Wine Cellars 2017
Sheldrake Point Winery 2016

Ray Pompilio began his wine career in 1983, with a harvest crush on Seneca Lake. He has since sold wine in wholesale, retail and restaurant positions, worked six years for two national wine magazines and served as a wine judge for the last 30 years. Currently he is a member of the wine team at Northside Wines & Spirits, in Ithaca, NY, and a regular contributing writer to wine trade magazines in California.

This article was first published in our 2019 March/April edition.

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