Another day, another blog about wine. The picture shows the empty bottle from a recent evening’s wine-drinking with my fiancée. This time, we’d shared a small (50cl) bottle of one of Alsace’s more unusual wines, a gewurtztraminer vendanges tardives. This is a dessert-style wine, rather sweeter than a standard gewurtztraminer.
Vendanges tardives (late harvest) wines are a relatively (in the grand scheme of things) recent introduction to the Alsace, with the first wine with this description being bottled in 1976 after that long hot summer. The increased sugar levels which are part of the requirement for these wines give them their more syrupy character. Traditionally in the Alsace they would be drunk alongside foie gras or a tarte tatin.
The vintage in question is a 2005, which was one of the best Alsace vintages in recent years, with low yields, but sound grapes with ripe acidities.
This bottle was picked up during a trip to the Alsace in June/July 2010. This grower, Jos Straub et fils, is one of my personal favourites. He is tucked away in Blienschwiller on the Alsace wine-route, and doesn’t have anything in the way of a website. I’ve been visiting him every couple of years since about 2002. His small-scale business and the fact he doesn’t have an enormous sales operation mean that you get very personal service (a working knowledge of French/German really helps), and decent wines and very reasonable prices.
Gewurtztraminer wines are a particular speciality in Alsace, although they are also available in many other countries, particularly Germany. In German speaking countries, there is an umlaut on the “u”, although this is dropped on French bottles. The name means “spiced” traminer, and these wines are highly aromatic. Interestingly, the grape has a pink skin, but is a white-wine grape. The aromatic flavour of regular Gewurztraminer (as opposed to Vendanges tardives) means that they are one of the very few white wines suitable to accompany eastern cuisines.