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What our expert thought of Tramin, Gewürztraminer, Alto Adige




the tasting

The Tasting


In the glass this looks deeply coloured for a two-year-old wine: a medium greeny-gold.  But Gewurz has thick pink skins so this wine is actually quite pale for the variety.
 
If the nose doesn’t jump out of the glass and hit you then the wine is too cold!  It smells of lychees and rose petals ‐ textbook Gewurz.  There’s fresh mango too, and pungent ginger spice.  Behind that there’s something that’s simultaneously nutty and sweet, even honeyed, like baklava.
 
The palate is dry, which comes as a surprise after the nose.  It’s fresher than expected too.  Acidity is a bit less than medium but that’s still good for this grape and at first disguises the wine’s weight.  Then it spreads across the palate, revealing its power and concentration.  Hold it in your mouth a while to enjoy the effect. This is definitely full-bodied, with an oily weight to its tropical fruit flavours of canteloupe melon and lychee, backed up by some ripe peach.
 
That backloaded intensity continues into the big finish, which is slightly oily again and decidedly long, with a gradually increasing spiciness.  There’s some slight bitterness but this is nicely offset by a tiny hint of sweetness that suggests the wine might not be quite as dry as it seemed at first.


Assessment


This is classic Gewurz; it couldn’t be any other grape.  The French have a lovely word for it, typicité, which sounds so much better than “does what it says on the tin”.
 
The taste takes me straight back to the early Nineties, when my wife-to-be and I used to frequent a restaurant in Romsey called the Lana Thai.  (The cuisine was as much Indonesian as Thai; I have fond memories of the Gado-Gado salad.)  We always drank the Alsace Gewurztraminer, expensive though it was, and now the taste of good Gewurz is forever linked in my mind to that time and place.
 
It’s actually quite difficult to make a good Gewurz.  The classic scents and flavours don’t develop until the grapes get really ripe, so alcohol levels are inevitably high and acidity often perilously low.  You need a coolish climate with long sunny autumns for gradual ripening, and cold nights to preserve acidity.  The Alto Adige is one of the few places in the world that really qualifies, along with Alsace in France and the Pfalz in Germany.
 
Timing is everthing: pick too early and you don’t get the flavours; too late, and you get a flabby wine prone to oxidation that you have to make sweet to disguise the bitterness.  Then in the winery you have to get the aromas out of the skins without too many of the bitter-tasting phenols.  This one hits the sweet spot with intense Gewurz character, sufficient freshness, and the tendency to oiliness and bitterness restrained enough that the wine can be made dry.
 
If Tramin isn’t the original home of Gewüztraminer, it’s got a good claim to be its second home.



Tasting notes

Appearance
clear medium greeny-gold, prominent legs
Nose

Intensity pronounced (once it warms)

Aromas tropical fruit (lychee, mango), floral (rose petals), pungent spice (ginger), nuts & honey (baklava)

Development youthful
Palate

Sweetness dry, but almost off-dry (4g/l RS)

Acidity medium-, good for grape

Body full, oily weight, but not heavy

Intensity medium+

Flavours tropical fruit (canteloupe melon, lychee), stone fruit (peach)
Finish

Length long

Flavours spice (white pepper), slightly oily, slight bitterness offset by hint of sweetness. Taste the phenols!
Other notes
Great typicité. Increasing spice on very big, textured finish. Unoaked.


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