Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Harvesting Gewürztraminer


These are Gewürztraminer grapes that were harvested in the valley this weekend.
Gewürztraminer is one of the most pungent wine varietals, easy for even the beginning taster to recognize by its heady, aromatic scent.
The berries, with their thick and tough skins, can attain high sugar levels of amazing concentration. Alcohol levels, therefore, can get quite high in dry versions. Conversely, low acidity and high pH in Gewürztraminer are problematic. Close monitoring and precise harvest timing are critical. Early picking retains acid, but without long "hang time" distinctive varietal character fails to develop. Pleasant results are nearly impossible in warm climates.
The dark pink color of gewürztraminer grapes results in wines colored from light to dark golden yellow with a copper tone, depending upon the fruit ripeness. Gewürztraminer is quite full-bodied, more so than most any other white wine type. In fact, the combination of its strong, heady, perfumey scent, exotic lychee-nut flavor and heavy-oily texture can be overwhelming and tiring to many palates. There is a slight tendency to bitterness that seems exacerbated by ripeness, so a light touch is needed at the wine press. Many makers finish their Gewürztraminer with a mask of residual sugar thus the wine will be slightly sweet.
The most frequently encountered (but not exclusive) smell and/or flavor elements found in Gewürztraminer wines include:
Floral: rose petal, gardenia, honeysuckle
Fruity: lychee, linalool, peach, mango
Aggressive: spice, perfume
Gewürztraminer wines are an excellent match for fresh fruit and cheeses and a good complement to many simple fish and chicken dishes, especially recipes that include capsaicin (hot pepper) spices, oriental five spice, or even curry.
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