Monday, February 7, 2011

Gesundheit Gewurz!

Thanks to this blog, many of my fancy friends have reached the rather erroneous conclusion that I am some sort of wine savant. Since temporarily returning from the US, My Life Coach, the wunderkind among us, has taken to wine with almost the same passion she has for organizational behavior, jewelry making and her long-distance relationship with the G-Man. She has joined The Wife, Ph.D., and me for wine tastings, helped us rate mediocre vintages and patiently sat through my ethyl-sparked rants on why I prefer Pinot Noir to just about everything besides my cuddly ball and chain. I must have somewhat impressed her because a few weeks ago she suggested we organize a proper tasting to introduce her to different varietals and their main characteristics.

If I knew anything about wine, I would have started her vinous education with a Chardonnay and a Sauvignon Blanc, probably the two most classic white varietals. But since she likes her wines on the sweet side (she goes gaga for Riesling), I told her to bring a bottle of New Zealand Gewurztraminer to get us going. Gewurz shares the same aroma compounds with lychees so I bought five (yes, I am a cheapskate) for comparison purposes. We opened a can of Norwegian sardines and arranged a few platters with smoked salmon, cold cuts and cheeses. The Wife, Ph.D., made some fresh herbal bread with Matilda, our bread-making contraption, and The Godmother and My Zolpidem Supplier joined us armed with chocolates and ice cream for dessert.

Before actually eating, we carefully cracked the lychees, smelled them, bit into their slippery meat, sucked on the hard pit and spat it out, sniffed the wine ("What do you pick up? What do you think?" I asked), swirled it in our mouths, made funny faces and strange noises, and finally let the liquid cascade down our throats. Obviously, the ladies sensed the lychees since they had been forewarned about the similarities. But then My Life Coach spoke up and mentioned "rose water," and, like a proud instructor, I beamed knowing that she was going to be alright.

2009 Villa Maria Gewurztraminer (East Coast, New Zealand) - Grapefruit zest, lychees, quince, rose petals and some petrol on the nose. Smooth, medium-bodied wine marked by flavors of honeycomb, citrus fruits, apricots and pine tree. Not quite off-dry - rather tart - with a spike in the alcohol towards the tail-end. Bob Campbell MW suggests in the 2011 Decanter Guide for New Zealand (a supplement to the March 2011 issue) that the island makes the second best Gewurztraminer after, of course, Alsace in France. 87/100.

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