Gewürztraminer wine grape
A very old variety that has mutated into several different forms, Gewürztraminer is technically only the name of the pink-skinned, highly aromatic variant but it is by far the most widely planted.
DNA testing shows that Traminer has a parent-child relationship with Pinot. Pinot is so ancient that normally it would be assumed to be the parent, but Traminer has equally impressive clonal diversity so it could in fact be older. That diversity is highest in the region that is now north-east France and south-west Germany, suggesting that it originated there.
While Pinot started out as the black-skinned Pinot Noir and then developed pale-skinned mutations, Traminer began as a white grape (Savagnin Blanc in France’s Jura, Weisser Traminer in Germany), developed a pink-skinned mutation (Savagnin Rose, Roter Traminer), and then much later, probably in Germany where the first references to it appear in the 1820s, mutated into the highly aromatic form we know as Gewürztraminer today.
Gewürz is German for ‘spice’, which is rather misleading as its distinctive scent isn’t so much spicy as intensely floral and tropical fruity: rose petals and lychees are the classic descriptors. Its characteristic scents and flavours develop late in the ripening process, so most Gewurz is high in alcohol (14% and over) and low in acidity.
Cool climates and long autumns are needed to preserve reasonable acidity while giving the flavours time to develop. In hot areas it produces either neutral wine if picked early, or flabby, oily, bitter-tasting and oxidation-prone wine if picked late. It buds early, however, so is prone to frost damage in really cool climates. Alsace in France seems to be in the sweet spot, and most of the best examples come from there. (The French spell it without the umlaut, and the rest of the non-German-speaking world has mostly followed suit.)
Fine examples are also found across the border from Alsace in the Pfalz, Baden and Rheinhessen regions of Germany. The sunny, high-altitude valleys of the Alto Adige in Italy produce excellent Gewurz too. Few new world regions are cool enough, but New Zealand makes some exciting wines that retain good acidity.
Decanting Club wines containing: Gewürztraminer
From Alto Adige, Italy
Tramin, Gewürztraminer, Alto Adige
From Alsace, France
Dopff au Moulin, Gewürztraminer
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