Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Gewurztraminer: BC's Signature White?

Is Gewurztraminer BC's Signature White Varietal? Icon Wine's Liam Carrier Makes The Case...

Lovers of BC Chardonnay need not fear (nor write nasty letters), nary a negative word will be written in this article knocking the many fantastic Chardonnays produced in the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys. Rather, I simply desire to highlight the lesser-publicized varietal that is our small-bunched and blue-ish friend.

One cannot define, with a single sentence, the Okanagan Valley's climate and selection of diverse terroir except, perhaps, to state that "it is perfect for growing Gewurztraminer". However, does this statement alone make Gewurztraminer the region's signature white varietal? Of course not. It takes a group of talented winemakers to work with the grapes and produce the quality aromatic and often delicate wine many of us "Wurz-heads" love so much.

Gerwurztraminer excels in the warm areas of cool climate regions which fits the Okanagan Valley to a tee. The valley's winemakers are also excelling in their own right using cool fermentation methods to preserve the natural aromatic qualities of the varietal producing an array of different Gewurztraminers to choose from. The wines, ranging from bone-dry to ice wine, showcase the uniqueness of each planted area in the valley and reflect the winemaker's vision for the final product.

The following Gewurztraminers represent a wide selection of the fine product available to BC consumers. Sadly, very few make it out of the province although I have seen the Lake Breeze offering as far East as Winnipeg. Seek them out where you can and compare to the excellent Ontario product if you have the means.

2007 Township 7 - $18.99
The Towship 7 offerings is very dry and very subtle. Good acidity with strong mineral notes and tropical fruitiness on the palate. Muted, yet layered floral and orange-spice aromas on the nose. 88pts

2008 Red Rooster - $15.99
Near-dry and very tasty. Crisp and balanced. Will match nicely with many spicy Asian dishes. Excellent price-point. 87pts

2008 Tinhorn Creek - $16.99
Golden Mile Bench grown grapes in this fairly classic Gewurztraminer. Lychee, peach, grapefruit and melon aromas and flavours. Good medium acidity help make this a nice and refreshing wine to match with food. 87pts

2007 See-Ya-Later Ranch - $17.01
Off-dry. Floral aromas with grapefruit and lychee accents. Honey dew melon and more lychee fruit flavours with medium acidity which balances the fruit-sweetness very well. 89pts.

2008 Grey Monk Estate Winery - $16.99
Light spice and orchard fruit nose with tropical fruit and melon flavours on the palate. Decent complexity but lacking in intensity of aromas and flavours. 85pts

2008 Cedar Creek - $17.90

Off-dry. Orange blossom and lychee spice aromas with citrus and tropical fruit flavours with mineral notes. Lacks intensity on the nose and acidity on the palate. Pair with spicy-savoury fare. 86pts

2008 Lake Breeze Vineyards - $16.99

Touch of residual sugar. One of the most pleasant noses you will ever smell. Full of intense floral, perfume and tropical fruit aromas which carry through to the palate. Perfectly balanced wine with good crisp acidity on the finish. The best Gewurztraminer in BC for 2008. 91pts

Full Review

2008 Thornhaven - $17.99
An off-dry verging on medium-dry, tropical fruit bomb. Match with spicy Asian fare to discover the hidden complexity of lychee, minerals and moderate acidity. 88pts.

So, is Gewurztraminer BC's signature white wine? Well maybe, maybe not. It would be hard to say that the Province's best Chardonnays and Rieslings wouldn't compete for that title as well. However, many of the premium Chardonnays command a premium price whereas BC's top Gerwurztraminers do not. All of the wines featured in this article are below the $20 price-point. One could therefore propose that Gewurztraminer is "BC's signature budget white wine" or "BCSBWW", but that's a terrible title and in the end that all doesn't matter. We'll keep signing BC Gewurztraminer's praise and you can decide for yourself.

At Icon Wines we are always interested in your feedback. Please share your thoughts about this or any other article at iconwines@shaw.ca

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