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Wine Pick of the Week

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CSM Gewurz bottle Picmonkey

2015 Gewürztraminer


Chateau Ste Michelle

Columbia Valley

Alcohol: 12.5%

Suggested Retail: $10

“Like Riesling, Gewürztraminer is a sadly under-appreciated wine in this country. What a shame. American consumers don’t know what they’re missing. Our ‘Pick’ for this week is the 2015 vintage Gewürztraminer from Chateau Ste Michelle. It’s affordable, food-friendly and delicious.

“There are other, more complex examples of this variety, produced in Washington and California and especially in the traditional homeland of Gewürztraminer, the Alsace region of France. That’s good. If you decide you like the Ste Michelle version and have a few more bucks to spend you may also want explore other options. There are many variations on the theme, but all are likely to have a fragrant, floral aroma and a bit of spiciness in the taste.

“Perhaps consumers are wary of appearing foolish by mispronouncing the name of this winegrape. It’s not difficult for a reviewer who spent all those years in high school and college German classes, though he’s equally timid when he tries to attempt phrases in the French language. (A phonetic approximation would be GAH-VERTS-TRA-ME-NUR.) If this wine name is a mouthful metaphorically, it’s also a mouthful in a literal sense—and one to savor.

“The 2015 edition of our Pick is being phased out in the marketplace by the 2016 vintage, a wine we have not yet tasted. However, Chateau Ste Michelle’s efforts with this grape are remarkably consistent so we don’t think you’d find much difference if you encounter the newer one. This week’s Pick has a lovely floral nose. We’ve heard all sorts of descriptors of floral aromas, but we thought this Gewürz smelled like honeysuckle. This could be the natural aroma of the Gewürztraminer grapes, though perhaps it’s the contribution of a minor component of Moscato. Describing the flavor would have to include the word ‘spicy,’ though that word might be off-putting to folks unfamiliar with the personality of this grape. We think they’d find the characteristic subtle, if they noticed it at all. There’s just a wisp of sweetness in the wine, which is necessary to offset the natural high acidity. Wineries tend to describe this level of sweetness—or lack thereof—as ‘off-dry.’

“We think this wine can be attractive on its own as an aperitif or in lieu of a cocktail. It’s also an excellent accompaniment to many foods.”

Food Affinity: “For years, the go-to cuisine for pairing with Gewürztraminer has been ‘Chinese food.’ For those who understand that this broad category can include tastes beyond chop suey, it’s an insufficient definition. Nonetheless, when your reviewer was preparing a roast chicken using garlic, ginger and five spice powder a few days ago, he sought out this bottle of Chateau Ste Michelle Gewürztraminer and found it an outstanding combination. The variety is more versatile than that, though. We think it would match up to many spicy Mexican dishes, as well brightening milder white fish preparations.”

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