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March 04, 2010

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Tom,
Excellent Post once again. I love how you took your review on your blog and went deeper on this, in my opinion overlooked and misunderstood grape.

I have said before and will say it again, it is my favorite white varietal. It is a shame that I don't drink and taste it enough. My wife and I love it, and that is about it in our family, so it is not always on the table.

I will have to be on the look out for that Gewürz Grappa. Sounds interesting and exciting.

I need to make it a point to visit the Long Island vineyards and wineries that produce Gewürz.

And if you find that perfect climate/region for Gewürz, please let me know, because I agree, the NY wine makers and vineyard managers are doing just fine by me.

Another excellent piece, Tom.

Great stuff, Tom. You've touched upon the reasons why some growers put this fickle grape in the Pinot Noir category. And sadly, bad Gewurz is pretty profoundly bad.

I wonder, Tom, if you've ever looked in to (or if anyone has ever looked in to) whether there are appreciable differences between a Gewurz with natural acid and a Gewurz with bagged acid. I assume there is.

Michael:

Be sure to hit FLX distilling and grab that Gewurz grappa when you are here for TasteCamp. If you like grappa, you won't regret it.

Evan:

The crux of the issue is that if it were harvested in time to preserve the natural acidity, the flavor development would be different. It's impossible to decouple those effects.

Let's say, though, for the sake of argument, we were able to find 2 wines with the same aroma profile. One has a natural acidity of 7 g/L and the other comes in at 4 and tartaric acid is added back to 7.

The difference would be in the acid composition. Some of the acid in the natural 7 would likely be malic while the "bagged" 7 would be largely tartaric. Malic and tartaric acids do taste slightly different, so that difference might be perceptible.

The natural acid, with more malic, could actually be more tart, since malic has higher pKa's for both hydrogens. Like most perceptions, the perception of tartness, though, is a convoluted nightmare of variables, including pH, titratable acidity (TA, number of total H+) and total acidity (total positive ions).

Tom -

Interesting, thanks. One point: You point out that the flavor development would be in a different place if the crop was picked in time to preserve natural acidity. But I've spoken to winemakers who indicate that Gewurz is a delicate balancing act and it's certainly possible - a laudable goal, really - to pick when flavor development has reached a desirable level without the acids falling away. That's part of why Gewurz is considered to be so temperamental. I'd love to hear from growers or winemakers who can talk about picking Gewurz without having to make additions.

Tom: When you were talking to the winemakers you did for this story, did you happen to ask what the flavor profile tends to be earlier -- when natural acid is still high?

What flavors dominate before the rose/lychee take over late in the game?

I think this is what happens when winemakers run the vineyard. This issue could be easily resolved with multiple harvests (which is likely what they do in Alsace) instead of bagged acid. You pick some a little early, with good acid, some when the sugar is good, and the rest when you get your varietal charaters ripening. In addition to maintaning good acid levels, you will bring down that alcahol level a bet too.

now on a side bar, has anyone heard of/tasted/or made a Riesling/Gewürztraminer blend?

Rowland:  Lamoreaux Landing Estate White is approximately 50/50 Riesling/Gewürz and a great value at like $10.

Rowland is absolutely correct. Good wineries in Alsace always head to the vineyard on multipile "tries" as in a "triage".

And to the second part, the "Edelzwicker" is a very common table wine in that part of France. It often blends Riesling with Gewurztraminer, but also with Pinot, Chesselas, Muscat, Klevener, whatever...One Edelzwicker came to me in a carafe, paired with a plate a choucroute, a few years ago. I remember because the carafe only cost 2 euros.

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