Saturday 21 October 2017

Spice up your wine rack

Liam Campbell, Wine columnist Weekend Magazine Pix Ronan Lang/Feature File

Liam Campbell

Tastes in wine can be like the tick-tock fashions on the catwalk, but at a much, much slower pace. Big, bold and colourful styles one season, followed by sleek, understated and monotone the next; and then the cycle begins again, with a few adjustments.

We've had the full-bodied, tropically fruity and vanilla-cream, oaked Chardonnays followed by non-oaked, slender and green-fruits Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio.

Can it be long before the voluptuous, opulent and exotically perfumed Gewurztraminer takes the spotlight?

Few white wines are as intensely perfumed as the spicy ('gewurz') version of the Traminer: Gewurztraminer. It's a generously fleshy and pink-skinned grape variety with the oriental character of lychee fruit, star anise, ginger and rosewater. Being so fragrant makes Gewurztraminer well suited to off-dry or subtly honeyed styles.

In its native Alsace, it is enjoyed with a local cheese, Munster, created in the 7th century by Irish monks. Traditionally, Munster cheese is dipped in cumin seeds to match the wine's spiciness.

The medieval villages of southern Alsace nestled among the hilly vineyards of the Vosges mountains are straight out of a fairy tale. Not surprising, then, that Gewurztraminer wines are equally fantastical – pure gingerbread cottage, dripping in honey with cinnamon aromas and ripe nectarine, Turkish Delight and rosewater flavours.

Food matches favour oriental spiced dishes, particularly Chinese cuisine, or with cheeses from Ireland's own Munster in a similar style – pungent, sticky-rind cheeses, such as Milleens, Ardrahan and Gubbeen; cumin seeds optional.

1) Gewurztraminer 2010 Mader, Alsace, France, 13.5pc

Fragrant with barley sugar candy. Off-dry with delicious lychee and rosewater flavours enveloped in a honeyed and creamy texture. Balanced by moderate acidity and alcohol, and echoing honey on the finish.

€16.50 at Wines Direct Shop in Mullingar and winesdirect.ie

2) Gewurztraminer Reserva 2011 Santa Digna winery by Miguel Torres, Chile, 13pc

Royal jelly and honey aromas. Very dry, with fresh peach and passion fruit. Made in a lighter aperitif style and finishing with Turkish Delight.

€12.99 at O'Driscoll's and Bradley's, North Main Street, Cork. In Dublin: Brewer's, Malahide, and Martin's, Fairview

3) Gewurztraminer 2008 Lawson's Dry Hills, Marlborough, New Zealand, 14.5pc

Perfumed with lychee fruit. Very dry, yet opulent and seductive with roses, ripe peaches and ginger spice.

€20 at Cashel Wine Cellar; Fine Wines, Ballysimon, Limerick; The Wine Well, Co Meath; The Vineyard Wine Company, Galway; Ardkeen Superstores, Waterford, and Wicklow Arms, Delgany. In Dublin: The Corkscrew, Chatham Street; On The Grapevine, Dalkey; Kelly's Wine Vault, Clontarf; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock, and Thomas's, Foxrock

4) Gewurztraminer 2011 Kritt by Marc Kreydenweiss, Alsace, France, 14.5pc

Delicately scented with luscious peaches. Off-dry and floral with a honeyed texture, delivering plump sultanas and red-fruit jelly.

€22.99 at O'Brien's, Dublin citywide

A wine-themed 12-night Immersive Wine Cruise on board the Celebrity Infinity ship sets sail from September 30. Ireland's celebrated wine expert Jean Smullen (jeans mullen.com) will host a number of master- classes, tutored tastings and events onboard, plus excursions to vineyards.

Call Cruise Broker on 01-833 3921; cruisebroker.ie.

Irish Independent

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