Style: Off-dry to sweet; light to full-bodied; still.
Suitability for long-term keeping: Good for the best qualities and sweet wines.
WHERE GROWN SUCCESSFULLY: Alsace, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Australia, California, Spain (Torres), Argentina. Gewürztraminer is probably the most flavourful white grape, and one which is difficult to disguise. The only other grape that comes close to it in intensity is the Muscat. One whiff of a Gewürztrarniner and you might think that you were smelling an exotic fruit salad. The bouquet is a mouth-watering blend of all sorts of tropical fruits – melons, mangoes and lychees are all there. And on top of all that, it has an added spiciness to it, almost a sweet pepperiness. Indeed, Gewürz means spice in German.
The skin of the Gewürztraminer grape is very tinted, giving a deep golden colour to many of is wines. Unlike Chardonnay, which has such popular appeal, Gewürztrarniner is a grape that you will either love or hate. Because of its high degree of natural sugar it can make very sweet wines or off-dry wines. In France it is mainly grown in Alsace, where it is fermented dry, although the ‘sweet’ aroma and flavour still comes through. Other countries that grow Gewürztraminer successfully include Germany, Austria, and New Zealand.
If you see Gewürztraminer with Sélection de Grains Nobles on the label, expect the wine to be very sweet – it will have been made from grapes which were left on the vines until all the moisture in the grape has dried up, concentrating the natural sugar content to remarkable degrees. Vendange Tardive wines (literally ‘late picked’) will always be high in alcohol and often sweet. More recently there have been some sensational examples of lusciously sweet Gewürztraminer from New Zealand.