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August 21, 2015 Wine Pick of the Week

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Hogue Cellars Gewurz bottle

2013 Gewürztraminer


Hogue Cellars

Columbia Valley (WA)

Alcohol: 13%

Suggested Retail: $10


“Wines for our reviews are sometimes selected with familiar quests in mind. Among these are affordable Pinot Noir, Zinfandel with more character than alcohol and white wine alternatives to the ubiquitous Chardonnay. Today’s Pick may be triggered by that last category.

"Gewürztraminer is at home in Alsace, that slice of northeastern France on the German border, where it accounts for the second most planted acreage after Riesling. It is also grown successfully in many other parts of the world, among them Washington and California. Gewürztraminer is made in many styles, from completely dry to perhaps medium-sweet ('off-dry') for table wines. This grape can also produce delightfully sweet dessert wines.”

“The Hogue Cellars Gewürz has some sweetness, but that isn’t necessarily bad. We found the sweetness balanced by its acidity and think the wine nice on its own and also a good choice to pair with certain main courses. One of the virtues of this grape variety is that it is quite floral. A standard description of its aroma is that it’s like lychee. We don’t dispute this comment, but think that very few Americans even know what a lychee is, much less what it smells like. Perhaps tropical fruits like papaya, mango or guava would be more familiar comparisons, as would rose petals and orange blossoms. Flavors include those tropical fruits and can include peaches or nectarines, too. In the mouth there is a creaminess, in spite of its good acidity.

“While the 2013 Hogue Cellars Gewürztraminer isn’t the best example of this variety we’ve ever had, we enjoyed it and found it a bargain. It’s the sort of wine that likely will please infrequent wine drinkers, as well as satisfy wine buffs who’ve had some experience with quality Riesling and Gewürztraminer.

Some wines tend to sell for less than their suggested retail and this is one of them. We bought it on sale in a grocery store for $5.99 and have seen it frequently for $7 or less. This wine and the basic Gewürztraminer from Ch. Ste Michelle, another Washington producer, are widely distributed and tend to be priced about the same. Both are good introductions to this grape and well worth trying. If you find qualities in either of them that you like and want to spend more like $20 a bottle, you could experiment with some of the drier examples from Alsace or Germany. Or, for a similar price you could try other Washington and California bottlings of this variety. Superb in that latter category are those made by Mendocino County’s Navarro ($16) and Napa’s Stony Hill ($27).”

Food Affinity: “A frequent suggestion is to pair Rieslings and Gewürztraminers with Chinese food. Even though there are many different cuisines in China and in other countries in that part of the world, this broad recommendation has been a surprisingly effective rule of thumb. However, instead of Asian, how about thinking Alsatian ? People in Alsace have been honing wine and food combinations for centuries. You could serve Gewürztraminer with charcuterie, many pork dishes, sauerkraut—even with the richness of foie gras.”

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