Wed 23 Apr 2008
Reading about gewurztraminer wines doesn’t prepare you for their utter freshness and exuberance, their titillating rose petal-lychee-lime-grapefruit character, the scintillating, crystalline acid, the startling bitterness of the finish. At least I wasn’t really prepared for those qualities, all of which I had dutifully read about, when I tried my first example, this Clos du Bois Early Harvest Gewurztraminer 1979, from Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley. Of course what I had mainly been reading about were the classic models from Alsace, but I couldn’t find any of those.
We drank this on May 24 and 25, 1983, so the wine was already three-and-a-half years old, but it was completely fresh and vigorous, “fragrant, flowery, a little spicy, refreshing” (quoting from these 25-year-old notes). It went down easily with lunch: grilled sausages, tomato aspic, deviled eggs and cold broccoli with homemade mayonnaise. Notice the price: $7.84.
A few weeks later, around June 17-19, we tried another gewurztraminer with the first part of Father’s Day dinner, the Mirassou Harvest Reserve Gewurztraminer 1981, Monterey County. “Selected for a Limited Bottling” runs the legend on the white banner at the top of the label. This was ripe and robust, full-bodied and full-flavored, “well-balanced with a good finish … but not as spicy as the Clos du Bois,” which seemed, on the other hand, more delicate and fine-boned. Some of this wine accompanied a sherry-pea soup followed by filet of flounder with hollandaise sauce. Note the price: $6.89.
Other wines we tried between the last entry in this chronicle (the Grgich Hills Johannisberg Riesling 1979, Napa Valley) and the Mirassou Harvest Reserve Gewurztraminer 1981:
Cuvee Saint Andre Coteaux du Tricastin 1979 ($4.59)
Folonari Valpolicella NV(?) ($3.50)
Chateau La Cardonne 1978, Medoc (7.95)
Chateau Guiraud-Cheval Blanc 1978, Cotes de Bourg ($5.37)
J. Pedroncelli Chenin Blanc 1981, Sonoma County ($5.49)
Nicolas Croze-Hermitage 1977 ($4.58)
Domaine des Sauvignons 1981, Cotes de Blaye ($4.49)
Chateau Malijay Cotes du Rhones 1979 ($4.14)
J. Pedroncelli Gewurztraminer 1981, Sonoma County ($5.99)