Ah, Gewurztraminer - the quirky yet image-conscious wine with so many facets - and my first real love among wines. When asked what drew me to Gewurztraminer, I usually answer that the enticing, exotic aromas leaping from the glass made it impossible for me to resist, and I was hooked. True, that’s how it went, but there’s something more to my relationship with Gewurztraminer. Gewurztraminer’s personality is often similar to mine, and so I readily identify with this wine. Covering some of the acidity with complexity and fun characteristics while infinitely quirky and slightly off-the-beaten-path, Gewurztraminer and I share a similar smile, a similar personality, a similar style, and a similar approach. For these reasons, Gewurztraminer introduced me to the wonderful world of wine with ease, we became fast friends, and never looked back.
So when I spotted what looked like an interesting bottle of Gewurztraminer while wine shopping a few weeks ago, of course I had to try it, and I decided to pair it with a dish that had been sitting patiently in my imagination bank for some time.
The wine was the 2010 Lucien Albrecht Reserve Gewurztraminer from Alsace, and the dish was sort of a goat cheese “sack,” a puff pastry filled with a mixture of crumbled goat cheese, finely chopped sauteed portobello mushroom, lemon zest, ground black pepper, and fresh thyme and chives, tied closed with a fresh thyme sprig, brushed with melted butter, and baked until golden brown. I’m happy to report the dish was a success and the pairing was perfect. The wine is light yellow in color with a thin rim, and characteristics of candied orange, peach, apricot (almost like a peach pie actually), pineapple, tropical fruit, and of course lychee, one of Gewurztraminer’s signature fruit characteristics, as well as some spice including fresh ginger. The wine tastes a bit sweet but has nice underlying acidity that comes through once the wine has sat on the palate for a moment, reflecting the pineapple characteristic. The acidity leaves the palate feeling very clean, and the finish reflects the fruit and spice, lasting some time. I had been trying to decide what to pair with that new dish idea, considering unoaked or lightly oaked Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc from Loire, or even a lighter Pinot Noir, but after deciding on the Gewurztraminer, I think the dish would serve as a perfect appetizer, and the Gewurztraminer would serve as a perfect accompaniment and aperitif.
|2010 Lucien Albrecht Reserve Gewurztraminer (Alsace) with Goat Cheese “Sack"|
The next day it snowed, and I was definitely in the mood for a big red. Enter the 2009 Skinner Mourvedre from El Dorado, California, paired with a filet mignon drizzled with white truffle oil and accompanied by sauteed portobellos. I had been meaning to grab a bottle of this wine and when I got to the wine shop, it was the last bottle left, so I’m glad I made it there in time to get that last bottle. Usually I think of Mourvedre as a good “team player” to work with Grenache and Syrah in some great Rhone style blends, but it’s great to experience this grape type on its own. The wine is a deep red with a fairly youthful pinkish red rim, and very viscous, indicating relatively high alcohol at 14.8%. Characteristics include lots of fruit, some red but mostly dark, stewed/macerated fruit, baking spices (particularly nutmeg), dark chocolate and some vanilla, oak, lots of smoke, and roasted meat notes. The wine has enough acidity and big youthful tannins, a very smooth feel and a very long finish reminiscent of the smoke and dark fruit. The pairing was perfect, especially on a winter night. I really enjoyed this wine and I’d go for it again in a heartbeat.
|2009 Skinner Mourvedre (El Dorado, CA) with Filet Mignon, White Truffle Oil, and Portobello Mushroom|
My mid-week pick was the 2009 Chapelle St. Arnoux Vacqueyras, a blend of 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah (lately I’m really into Southern Rhone style wines). It wasn’t paired; it was for sipping. The wine is a deep red with a brighter rim and viscous, with characteristics of red fruit, cinnamon, earth, and roasted meat, with nice acidity and a smooth clean feel, and a respectable finish. At just under $20, this wine is a great buy - it really delivers and would pair excellently with most meat dishes.
|2009 Chapelle St. Arnoux Vacqueyras|