The Wine of the Week by Annette Tomei
2011 Domaine Weinbach Gewürztraminer, Reserve Personnelle, Vin d’Alsace AC, Kaysersberg, France
Alsace is a unique region both physically and historically. For centuries it was passed back and forth between France and Germany; it has drawn on the cultures of both in becoming distinctly Alsatian in dialect, food and wine. It is more viticulturally similar to Germany because of its dry cool climate – drier than any other in France. The grapes of Alsace are predominantly white and include Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Muscat, and, of course, Gewürztraminer. The wines produced from these grapes tend to be rich and extremely aromatic, and range from dry to exquisitely sweet Vendange Tardive or the more rare Sélection de Grains Nobles.
Gewürztraminer is a pink grape well known for its distinct, highly aromatic nature and moderate acidity. The grape is naturally high in sugar and can produce wines with alcohol as high as 14% or more.
Domaine Weinbach is situated on land that has been under vine for over 1,000 years (since 890). The domaine itself was founded by the Capuchin monks in 1612, and acquired by the Faller family in 1898. It has been in that family’s care since. The land has been farmed organically for over 20 years; in 1998 the process of converting to biodynamic practices began, with all the vineyards converted by 2005. Winemaking practices are equally rigorous in order to produce intensely flavorful wines representing the distinct terroir of this special property.
The 2010 Reserve Personnelle Gewürztraminer has aromas of Hawaiian flowers, guava, and ginger. The mouthfeel is concentrated and lush – although this is supposed to be a dry wine, it has a sweet richness that may be a result of botrytized grapes in the blend – a common practice at Domaine Weinbach, even in dry styles. The heat of the alcohol (approximately 14%) is apparent; other flavors of lychee, nectar, plum wine, and silky roses make this a deeply complex and thoroughly enjoyable experience. To keep with the distinct terroir and traditional style of this wine, it would be a wonderful accompaniment to the distinct foods of this region including Munster cheese, roast goose, creamy onion tart, smoked salmon or – even better – foie gras.
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