A Mild Gewurz

Alsace is known for a few prime varietals. Riseling is one of them, but another is represented in the bottle I opened tonight: a 2004 Willm Gewurztraminer. The first thing I noticed was its color; it’s definitely yellow and still rather pale, but somewhat richer in presentation than a Riesling from the same area. The nose is sweet, yet crisp, sort of like a honeyed nectarine mixed with Asian pear. Gewurztraminer is typically known for a somewhat stronger aroma, often with a “cat pee” quality to it; if it’s here, it’s very faint. This is a lively wine on the tongue, tingly and playful with its crisp character. I’m reminded of Fuji apples, a bit of tart plum, and perhaps a hint of citrus in the tangy finish. Speaking of finish, this wine displays some of the traditional Gewurz spiciness. My tongue was treated from a gentle tickling at first glance to a slow, subtle rasp after swallowing, like cinnamon gum without the heat. The spice fades away to a lingering sense of fruitiness after a moment, as if I had just eaten a slice of apple.

Overall, this is a competent wine that is unsurprising in its high quality. I can see pairing this one with either rich sauces or mildly spicy foods, contrasting or supplementing the nature of the dish. Drunk by itself, I find myself taking small sips to experience the transition from tang to spice to fruit over and over again. The truth is, however, that this wine is not what I would consider a perfect example of Alsatian Gewurztraminer. The flavor feels dilute to me, and I sense a little too much alcohol-related heat that detracts from the experience. Still, it’s quite pleasant and probably good enough to try again, although I’m curious to see what other wineries in the region have to offer with this tantalizing varietal.

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