Gewürztraminer isn't my everyday go-to white, but when I want to relax with a good book while sipping a compelling glass of white wine, or am in need of a great match for pungently spiced Asian dishes or powerful, aromatic cheeses, the intoxicating floral and spice aromas of Gewürztraminer are just the thing. For those times when I do crave Gewürz, as we like to call it, I want something powerful and showy yet elegant and eminently dry—please, no sticky lychee-flavored sugar water! My favorite Gewürz comes from Alsace, and more specifically Domaine Weinbach, one of the producers that invariably turns out great Gewürztraminer in pretty much every vintage.
The Domaine, appropriately named “wine brook” after the brook that winds its way through the property, has a long history. Its Clos de Capucins vineyard, from which today's featured wine comes, served as the walled convent of Capuchin monks as early as the 9th century, and in 1612 the Capuchins established it as a wine producing domaine.
Since 1898 Domaine Weinbach has been under the ownership of the Fallers, one of the prominent Alsace winemaking families. Throughout most of the 20th century it was led by Theo Faller, a man known for his tireless efforts to improve the quality of Alsace wines, and for being influential in establishing Alsace as an AOC. Today Theo Faller’s passion for great wine is carried on by his daughters. Weinbach's wine culture is deeply rooted in respect for nature, and in keeping with this spirit the Faller daughters began converting the vineyards to biodynamic methods in 1998. Today all the vineyards are farmed biodynamically.
The sunny microclimate of Kaysersberg Valley as well as the variety of soils ranging from granite to limestone has allowed the Fallers to create a large number of cuvées with distinctive expressions that are highly influenced by the soil. For Gewürztraminer that means power yet elegance and precision of aromas and flavors. Reserve Personnelle comes from 25-year-old vines in the valley floor vineyards of the historic Clos, which features soils consisting of sand, alluvium, granite gravel, and pebbles. This composition allows a quick heating of the soil, leading to powerfully aromatic wines that mature relatively early, and are quite approachable and complex even when young. Reserve Personnelle gives off characteristically powerful aromas of rose petal, tropical fruit, and clove, elegantly balanced with layers of carnation, citrus fruit, candied orange peel, and a hint of smoky bacon. The finish is long, precise, and makes you want to go back for another sip.
As much as I love these spiced aromatic wines with Thai and Indian
dishes, for me the perfect pairing is the simplest. Head to your
favorite cheese shop and have them cut you some wedges of pungent,
soft-ripened cheeses. Try local regional cheeses such as Bardwell
Cavemaster's Reserve Barden Blue, Von Trapp Farmstead Oma, and Cato
Corner Hooligan. Take these home with a nice crusty baguette, plate the
cheeses, pour yourself a glass of Domaine Weinbach Gewürztraminer
Reserve Personnelle, and let yourself drift away as the cool evening
breeze wafts through your window.