- Q & A
Often, in California, a slightly sweet white wine with a unique spicy, musk-oil scent that is assertive. From Alsace, the Rheinhessen and the upper regions of Italy near Tyrol, it can take on more powerful components, age for many years and is normally very dry. The original name of the grape was Traminer.
Growers in Alsace (which was part of Germany at the time) found that some vines made a spicier version than others. Liking this version, they slowly converted the vineyard over to the spicy version and renamed the grape Gewurztraminer, "gewurz" meaning "spicy" in German.
A few producers still produce both, and to make it even more confusing, some still call their spicy version Traminer. Should be served slightly chilled.
With few exceptions, this grape makes a simple, fruity wine with the telltale musky, floral component it shows elsewhere, but not much else. While there are a few standouts, it is not considered an economically viable grape.
There is little argument that his grape reaches its pinnacle in Alsace. The heady, musky and floral aromas can be sensed a few feet away as opposed to inches. Many feel that these wines are actually "too big to eat" as they don't marry with much but them most imposing of dishes. Styles run the gamut here from steely (though almost never dull) to opulent to dessert and almost anything in between.
Powerful and imposing offerings from particularly the Rheinhessen, though some charming examples also hail from the Nahe and Pfalz.
Along the Swiss border in the upper reaches of Friuli, this grape can show some major stuffing and concentration approaching the Alsace offerings at about half the price. Not widely known or seen, but worth seeking out. Often called Traminer and at times is that different grape. Only your purveyor (hopefully) knows for sure.
A few good examples in Catalonia, though often blended with local varieties.