An unpretentious but distinctly drinkable Alsace Gewurztraminer

I am a rabidly enthusiastic janissary of Jean Boxler – his wines tweak my fun bits in royal style. That being said, I normally drink his Rieslings, and generally they are of a much flasher provenance than a humble generic. However, even if this is not at the quality zenith of Alsace wines, I’m rather savouring its urbane personality.

The problem one usually encounters with Gewurztraminer is that they can go too far down the flabby, booze-tastic path. This makes drinking more than a glass a draining experience and can result in getting distinctly tired and emotional (tired and emotional as a newt, that is). Zind-Humbrecht are the arch masters of these overblown concoctions and I find them to be utterly devoid of pleasure. This wine is a vastly different beast from such loathsome atrocities.

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Gewurztraminer 2008, Albert Boxler

Crivens, it is a Gewurztraminer with an understated nose! I’m slightly surprised but deeply encouraged by this, the wine will not be a chore to drink. Certainly it does have shades of foam banana[ref]If you don’t know what foam bananas are then cast your eyes on this multitude of them[/ref] fruit and pain epice notes I’d expect in any good Gewurz, but they are understated compared to the powerful minerality that suffuses the nose. It is refreshingly sedate on the alcohol front as well – this is a generic of polished, elegant class. The palate is about as refreshing as this variety will ever manage, there are commendable acidity levels here which are very welcome and gives it more than an approximation of being mouth-watering. The rambutan/lychee fruit is far from over-whelming and the same goes for the undemanding alcohol level – there is no lingering afterburn when I swallow a mouthful. The stony character of the palate persists with the fruit for long enough, and I am taken with the dimension it shows. True, it is not the smallest scale, most exquisitely sculpted wine one is likely to encounter, but there is proper harmony and more than enough refined complexity for a wine at this quality level. Good stuff that is up for drinking.

  • Guy Dennis

    Would be interested to hear your views on food matching gewurz, David. The received wisdom is that they match asian food with spice, but I find that no wine really benefits from such food – and gewurz just accomodates it better than most wines. And this perception tends to overshadow the brilliance with which gewurz can match the right European foods.

  • I think that ‘Gewurz with Asian foods’ idea is not a great one. Powerful personalities rarely harmonise and can often clash and leave us feeling over-whelmed and disappointed somewhere between the two. On the rare occasions I have wine with Thai food I prefer Chablis, Sancerre or a frighteningly dry and linear Riesling – Grosset Polish Hill from Australia works a treat (and it is also a damned good drink).

    I’ve had surprisingly successful encounters with Gewurz in the slightly minimalist (some would say bland) style that typifies Italian whites when matched with characterful fish dishes. We drank a lot of this style whilst in Venice noshing on their wonderful seafood. I’m not sure the richer, weightier Alsace examples would match so well, but I find myself drawn to the idea of having a smaller scale one like the above with a scallop risotto charged with plenty of flavoursome lobster stock.

    This still leaves us without a match for the perfume-bomb, booze-tastic Gerwurz’s. The easy answer would be to say have them with Munster, and that is a really good combination, but even if we broaden that to other soft, slightly stinky cheeses that doesn’t give much to work with. To be honest, I’m not all together sure big Gewurz can compliment terribly many foods. My normal mode is to drink them alone and, if they are good, wallow in their opulence.

    I may as well relate the tale of my best food matching exercise with a distinctly voluptuous bottle of Zind-Humbrecht Grand Cru Goldert Gewurz. I was cooking up some fish bones to make stock for a fish soup when I popped the wine to have a crafty taste before my dinner guests arrived. I thought it was loathsome. Then I was struck with the brilliant idea of what to do with the rest of it: I poured it into the stock pan and let the heat and fish bits ameliorate the noisome alcoholic monster. It turned out to be the best fish soup I’ve ever had.