Cuisine Wine

NZ Gewurztraminer Tasting results

31 December 2013 (Cuisine magazine Issue 163)

In its many attractive guises, gewurztraminer gets along with all kinds of drinkers and dishes, writes John Saker.

Voluptuously flamboyant or demure and smouldering? Whatever your gewurztraminer stylistic preference, you’re bound to find one to your taste among this year’s top wines. There’s plenty of diversity, though what they all share is the sexy aromatic charm that sets gewurztraminer apart. “Our Top 5 covers a range of styles,” said panel chair John Belsham. “It’s not just about exotica – it’s also about texture and finesse, which allows the wine to match a wider selection of dishes.”

Noted Cameron Douglas, “I think the variety has a great future here, especially in terms of food application.” The panel agreed that gewurz is a far more versatile food than many give it credit for. For example, pork – especially in its richer forms (eg pork belly) – buddies up very well with gewurz. Where care must be exercised is in the pairing of gewurztraminer with hot spicy foods. As it is a relatively high-alcohol variety, you run the risk of the wine’s alcohol warmth fanning, rather than tempering, the spicy flames.

Pictured above: Sunflowers and vines at Johanneshof Cellars, Marlborough

The Tasting Panel
Panel chair John Belsham, highly respected international wine judge and owner of Foxes Island Wines, Marlborough, was joined by Dan Dineen, winemaker, with his wife, Sarah-Kate, at Maude in Wanaka, and Auckland senior lecturer at AUT and Master Sommelier, Cameron Douglas. Associate judge (non-scoring) was Cuisine’s New Zealand wine writer, John Saker.

Top 5 NZ Gewurztraminer

Zephyr Gewurztraminer 2013

Our top wine brings together fresh fragrances such as rosehip and quince and more savoury spice notes such as nutmeg. It is fresh and lively, finishing dry with an attractive textural flourish. “It’s not a flamboyant version,” said John Belsham. “The savoury element doesn’t detract, but makes it more complete and food-friendly.” Winemaker Ben Glover says it is “stunning” with warmed De Brood Bakker’s sourdough baguette with Over the Moon’s Galactic Gold Wash Rind Cheese.

Top wine profile

Fitted like a Glover
The decision to plant gewurz at the Glover family vineyard in the Wairau Valley back in 1993 came when paterfamilias Owen Glover was given a glass of perfumed Alsatian gewurz and was won over in an instant. “Must have some of that,” he decided, so in it went. The Glover family’s own Zephyr label made its debut in 2007 and gewurz has been part of the portfolio from the beginning. “I’m not a fan of the rich talc-and-Turkish Delight style of gewurztraminer,” says winemaker Ben Glover, son of Owen and his wife Wendy. “I go for purity and vibrancy – you want lushness, but not too much.” To add interest to the 2013 wine, Ben “played around” with the popular Italian orange wine techniques, when white wine is left to get chummy with the grape skins and seeds. “It gives the wine a bit more structure and a ‘what the hell is that?’ quality.” This result wasn’t the only cause for Glover celebration. Zephyr Riesling 2012 was third in the Top 10.

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  • Outstanding 1
  • Excellent 5
  • Very Good 6
  • Good 7
  • No Award 20
  • Total Entries 39