This is one of my favourite wines, from one of my all-time favourite wineries -- the pale, very dry (for Gewürztraminer, that is), lean and delicate Gewürztraminer from Tinhorn Creek. Winemaker Sandra Oldfield says that she strives for a Gewürztraminer that is not overblown, not over perfumed, nothing reminiscent of an old lady's lingerie drawer. This wine is certainly nothing near overblown. It's elegant, lean, understated, and totally addictive.
Delicate and mineral on the nose with notes of lychee and mountain stream. On the palate, lychee and grapefruit. Though technically only off dry, compared to many Gewürztraminers this is dry indeed. Sandra says that she would like to try fermenting it down to bone dry some year, and because she very carefully makes sure her fruit doesn't get overripe, she may be able to accomplish that without creating a high alcohol level that would get in the way of the flavours.
Here's another wine I was excited to try, but never expected to find. Sumac Ridge announced their Sparkling Gewürztraminer way back in March, saying that it was only available in their wine shop. When I was at Baneé, the South Okanagan Secret Wine Festival in April I wanted to head north on the way out of the valley in order to pass through Summerland and hit the Sumac Ridge winery tasting room, but it didn't work out -- I had to leave the Okanagan without my Sparkling Gew.
Sumac Ridge winemaker Mark Wendenburg has a true passion for methode classique sparkling wine making. In February I was lucky enough to spend an hour or two with him in February, and he explained the whole process to me. I took detailed notes, and though I can't explain the process off the top of my head, I am pretty sure I could write a graduate level thesis on the subject by referring to what Mark told me.
Smells like Gewürztraminer, tastes like Champagne
I happened into Yaletown's Taylorwood Wines on Thursday, and they had just received a few bottles of the Sparkling Gew. I jumped on it!
So how did it go down? Well, after a quick Google search, it seems that Sparkling Gewürztraminer is not quite as unknown to the world as one would initially expect. It's one of the varietals that comprise Crémant d'Alsace, which I think most people would agree is just delicious.
On the nose, this smells like Gewürztraminer: apple blossom, pear, lychee, and honey. Beautiful and aromatic.
On the palate, this is definitely a sparkling wine: Off dry, but definitely not sweet, with pineapple, lychee, and lots of grapefruit followed by a hint of biscuity yeast. Big, generous mousse. I perceived none of the typical Gewürztraminer spicyness, no ginger, no clove. It tastes true and pure, not concocted. I loved it but my honey didn't -- vive le différence.
Once again, thank you Mark Wendenburg, Jason James, and the Sumac Ridge team for pushing the envelope! I'll buy this whenever you have it!