How Do You Say Gewürztraminer?

I don’t know about you, but this is one of those wines I gloss over on the wine list, walk past at the wine shop, and avoid saying out loud at all costs. At #WBC16[1], I was lucky enough to cure the problem, and let me tell you, it’s about damn time!File Aug 20, 9 25 43 AM

Pronounced, Geh-VIRTZ-trah-MEE-ner[2], the grape originally hails from Italy’s Alto Adige region[3], an ancient wine growing community in the Dolomites[4] bordering Austria and Switzerland. Italy’s smallest wine growing region makes around 40 million bottles of wine on a yearly basis[5] and is the oldest German speaking[6] winemaking area in the world; they’ve been honing their craft for the last 3,000 years[7].

Wine Tasting AlsaceThe bottle of Gewürztraminer I sampled was an absolute gem. Breakout sessions were scattered throughout the conference, and I had the foresight to attend May Matta-Aliah’s session on the Wines of Alsace. We sampled three typical Alsatian varieties, a Riesling, a Pinot Gris, and finally, the Gewürztraminer. The Riesling and Pinot Gris were both lovely; soft, light and elegant. The Gewürztraminer was a slam dunk. My tasting notes started off with “Wow” and “Incredible”[8]. It was one of those tastes where spitting would be a crime…so I didn’t.

Alsace Wine

As we were sipping, my new wine friend Laura explained how the word is broken down: Gewürz translates roughly to aromatic or seasoning, Tramin refers to Tramin an der Weinstraße, often abbreviated to Tramin or Termeno, the specific location where the grape comes from, and er means “of”. So, Gewürztraminer pretty much means “aromatic seasoning of Tramin”[9].

Tasting Notes on the Zind-Humbrecht Gewürztraminer Grand Cru Hengst 2013

A high residual sugar content (45 grams per liter[10]) made this one a bit on the sweeter side. Not something you’d want to drink with dinner, but after dinner, before dinner, with dessert, without dessert, would all work just fine. I got a bright, full mouthful of pineapple and a slight minerality on the extra-long finish. The wine kept going and going; I didn’t want to let it go. It was almost moist, a great, lush mouthfeel; very reminiscent of my Sauternes tasting experience in Bordeaux[11]. This Gewürztraminer has characteristics similar to the Sauternes I tasted, being a sweet wine with great depth and body. I’ll have to try some more of these Alsatian Gewürztraminer beauties and let you know if they’re all as amazing. In the meantime, grab one of these if you can find it.

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Maybe not a wine to throw back with your beer-guzzling neighbor, as it will set you back at least $70 if you can find it, but it is certainly something to be shared with loved ones[12]. A highly acclaimed vintage, Wine Enthusiast rated the Zind-Humbrecht 2013 a 94 and Decanter bestowed a 97. Not too shabby.

Grapes for this bottle were grown in the Zind-Humbrecht Hengst Grand Cru vineyards in Wintzenheim, Alsace. The Zind and Humbrecht families joined forces in 1959; their ancestors have been growing grapes in Alsace since 1620.

Is there a wine you’re scared to pronounce[13]? Get on the Google and don’t let it stop you! You could be missing out on an amazing wine!

Until the next glass, Cheers!

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] You can read my first recap of the conference here.
[2] Practice it in the privacy of your home and you’ll be good to go. #thatsnotweird
[3] The Wine Folly has a great overview of Alto Adagio and the grapes grown there. Check it out.
[4] The Dolomites have been on my travel bucket list forever, but I had no idea there was wine! Another addition to the Wine Bucket List!

© Consortium of Alto Adige Wine
Castles, towers and vineyards, oh my! © Consortium of Alto Adige Wine

[5] To put that number in perspective, in 2015, the State of California produced 229 million cases. I don’t understand how this could be possible because that is two billion seven hundred forty-eight million BOTTLES. But, I found it on the internets, so it must be true.
[6] Wait, but I thought this was Italy? Given that it’s been making wine for 3,000 years, you can imagine that a lot has happened in the area over the past few millennia. A power struggle between Italy and Austria has been going on, pretty much forever, and tensions still run high. Also this.
[7] America was born in 1776, or 240 years ago. To put that in perspective, this small area of Italy has been producing wine for 2,760 years longer than America has been around. WOW.
[8] I’m super good at tasting notes.
[9] #bilingual
[10] Residual sugar generally refers to the sugar content remaining in the wine after fermentation stops or is stopped.
[11] Ahhhh #FancyinFrancey. That was fun.
[12] Like your good friend Wine Esquire here.
[13] Viognier is Vee-own-YAY. Blaufränkisch is Blahw-FRAHN-keesh. And here’s a link to more pronunciations. You’re welcome.


Riesling Is a Viable Option

I’m usually not a big Riesling drinker. Maybe if someone is serving it with dessert I’ll have a small glass, but it’s not something I buy. It was always one of those wines that left a bad taste in my mind. I remember having it one night in college[1], and since my college budget didn’t allow for me to buy anything except a sugary bottle of what could only be called Riesling-esque juice, I wound up hungover not feeling well the next morning and swore it off for good.

Until, that is, I heard that it may be good with spicy foods[2]. And after having that sweet, delicious experience, it made me consider trying more of this lovely grape. So when I walked into one of my favorite wine shops last week and my best good wine friend mentioned a unique Riesling I might enjoy, I decided to give it another swirl.File Jul 22, 9 08 04 PM

Tasting Memo: 2015 Dönnhoff Riesling Trocken

Melon and honey on the nose. Wow. A lot of body; a great, full mouthfeel. I get the faintest fizzy pop of carbonation, not full blown bubbles, but just a hint[3]. It’s quite refreshing. Maybe a bit of green apple on the finish with a touch of a dry bite. Fruity without being sweet. A wonderfully delicious treat. I sipped on this without any food[4], and it was great on its own. I could also see pairing this with some apple slices slathered in Brie[5]. Yum. Goodbye to my Riesling prejudice, I think I’m officially a convert!

File Jul 22, 9 07 52 PMThe producer of this bottle is the highly esteemed Dönnhoff family who has been producing wine in the Nahe wine region of Germany for more than 200 years[6]. The estate is now run by father and son duo, Helmut and Cornelius. Their Riesling, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc grapes are grown on twenty five sloping, hilly hectares in Oberhausen an der Nahe, a teenytiny wine growing village about an hour southwest of Frankfurt.

(c) Weingutt Dönnhoff

As of 2013 there were a grand total of 379 full time residents in Oberhausen an der Nahe, the Dönnhoff family presumably being several of them. Eighty percent of their vines are Riesling, and this bottle was the Trocken, or dry offering. Made from 100% Riesling grapes, it was fermented in a mix of stainless steel and large German oak barrels.

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This may not be the easiest wine to find, but it is available throughout the US for, you guessed it, under $25 a bottle (this was my selection for the July edition of the #Under25Challenge[7]). I’d highly suggest trying to get your hands on some whether you’re a Riesling fan or even if you’re on the fence. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Salem liked it, so will you!
Salem liked it, so will you! #catlady

Until the next glass, cheers!

Lawyer Footnotes

[1] In my college quest to be, or at least appear to be, classy. Sometimes. #collegelife
[2] Thanks to my friends at Cutruzzola Vineyards.
[3] The winery calls this a “tingling minerality.”
[4] Don’t ask me why, this is very unlike me.
[5] Because how else does one eat apples?
[6] By the way, this place is going on the Wine Bucket List. It looks simply stunning.

(c) Weingutt Dönnhoff

[7] If you haven’t jumped on the #Under25Challenge bandwagon yet, you’re missing out on some fun. Find a new wine store, ask for a recommendation for their best bottle $25 or under, then open it up with us on Twitter. Check it out next month, August 16 at 8 pm EST. See you then!

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Liquid Courage and Provisions from the Wise Old Dog

Breakfast For Dinner with Sauvignon Blanc

It’s hot. And we’re trying to eat healthy[1]. So what’s a girl to do for dinner? Enter summer fresh oeufs en cocotte[2]. It was Husband’s idea and he executed flawlessly.  File Jul 13, 11 20 14 AM

Summer Fresh Eggs En Cocotte Recipe

Grab two ramekins[3] and spray or wipe down with olive oil. Layer fresh veggies inside. We used baby spinach and diced green peppers. An onion would have been a great addition. Anything you have laying around or growing in your garden will work[4]. Crack two eggs on top of the veggies and cover with a sprinkling of diced fresh herbs and a pinch of sea salt. If you’re really feeling fancy, throw in a dash of fresh grated parmesan[5]. Put the ramekins in a shallow baking dish filled with water (you want the water to be about halfway up the ramekin). Cover in foil and bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Uncover and finish baking for another 5-10 minutes. Voilà! Dinner is served!

Talk about summer fresh. It felt like I was taking a bite out of the garden. And it paired perfectly with Judge Palmer’s 2013 Sauvignon Blanc. The Judge Palmer wines are really stunning[6]. Too often Sauvignon Blanc is thin and metallic, but not so with this vintage of Judge Palmer. Nutty, green grass on the nose. Thick and peachy with a hint of sweet on the finish. Absolutely gorgeous color; a rich golden hue. File Jul 13, 11 20 31 AM

When the weather is warm and there’s eggs en cocotte on the table, you can’t go wrong with a glass of this beauty.

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What’s your secret to eating healthy in the heat?

Until the next glass, cheers!

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] Day three of no bread and I’m still civil to my fellow humans; I’m pretty much a #healthnut. Also, Honey Nut Cheerios for breakfast is better than a cream cheese covered bagel…right? #onthego
[2] This translates to “egg casserole.” I think it sounds much more appetizing in French.
[3] You know you have some from the crème brûlée set you put on your wedding registry and used once, if ever. If not, grab a few next time you’re at Amazon.
[4] Zucchini, radishes, leeks, tomatoes etc. #greenthumb
[5] I suggested some ham, bacon and/or pancetta too, but, see footnote 1, infra, re: being healthy. Ugh.
[6] The Cabernet Sauvignon we had this winter was equally captivating. And I just love the backstory behind Judge Palmer – Palmer Emmitt’s electrician-turned-judge grandfather. #nolawschoolnecessary

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White Wines for Summer Sipping

White wine is so much more than your mother’s oaky Chardonnay[1]. Not that there’s anything wrong with a nice oaky Chard, but sometimes it pays to try something new. The options are endless; you could literally go the entire summer without drinking an oaky Chard and still have more delicious whites to try. So let’s get this summer party started with some cool, refreshing bottles of wine, none of which I’ve ever had before, and all of which you should taste.

File Jun 01, 8 32 45 PMFirst up is the white Barolo I grabbed on Last Bottle[2]. It was hands down, one of the best white wine I’ve ever had. Seriously. Thick, beautiful mouthfeel, a touch of green grass, a note of honey, a sprinkling of citrus. No minerality to speak of. A big, bold beautiful white. The label is a bit on the confusing side, but after a bit of digging it all became clear. The label touted it as a 2014 Gavi by Marchesi di Barolo. Barolo is, after all, a region and not a grape variety, so this was made from the Cortese grape, a varietal I’ve not had, at least to my knowledge. Marchesi di Barolo is a producer in Piedmont, Italy which began making wines in the early 1800s. Gavi is a DOCG[3] region, DOCG being the highest classification for Italian wines, located in the southern part of Piedmont which is in northwest Italy. The area produces exclusively white wines, including some sparklers, in a growing area of about 3,600 acres. This bottle in varying vintages is available online between $14 and $20, but if you can’t find this particular one[4], then you should definitely seek out another from the region. I plan on getting more myself.

File Jun 01, 8 33 17 PMThe 2012 Jean-Marc Bernhard Pinot Blanc was also delightful. Cool, crisp and refreshing. A lighter mouthfeel than the Barolo, not a huge nose. A touch of peach and some crazy pineapple, but very approachable. Ever so slightly sweet without being a syrupy dessert wine. A perfect pairing with a salty parmesan. Or maybe some pan seared scallops. Mmmmmm. Pinot Blanc is apparently a genetic mutation of the Pinot Noir grape, and occasionally a vine will bear clusters of Pinot Noir with just one bunch of Pinot Blanc. This variety tends to be affordable, and though the origins of this bottle are an extreme mystery to me[5], it retails for about $13. It hails from Alsace, which looks to be a fairy tale hamlet over in France. Having never been there, I can’t say whether it’s really that cute or not, but I’m going to put it on my Wine Bucket List, stat. I also plan to drink more of this delicious Alsace Pinot Blanc.

This is apparently a real live place called Colmar. Photo Credit PlanetWare

File Jun 01, 8 33 37 PMNext up is the 2015 Miriam Alexandra Chenin Blanc[6]. This was my second bottle and I loved it even more the second time around. Crazy peach, lots of minerality with an awesome mouthfeel. A beautiful pale straw color, it went perfect with the meat and cheese nosh we had out for Memorial Day. This wine was made by Alexandra Farber, a wine maker funded by my friends over at Naked Wines. This was in my random sampler box from when I used my free $100 coupon code[7]. I was skeptical at first, but almost every bottle out of the box has been excellent, so I’ve become an Angel. Definitely worth a try if you haven’t already. Chenin Blancs have consistently been good values for me; a great white alternative and they’re relatively easy to find since the grape is grown in many areas of the world. Definitely worth a sip or twelve. I mean two.

File Jun 01, 8 32 59 PMFinally[8], the 2013 Le Petit Sauvignon Blanc by Coquerel Family Wine Estates, another Last Bottle win. While Sauvignon Blanc isn’t exactly rare, I’ve found that most of them are too metallic and tinny for me. When this came around for $10 a bottle I was skeptical, but I figured at that price, it couldn’t hurt. I’m glad I have three more because the beautiful citrus on this really pops. One sip and the result is an InstaSmile[9]. None of the harsh minerality that I’ve come to associate with Sauvignon Blanc, instead it’s a light, fresh, truly enjoyable glass of wine[10]. The Coquerel Family vineyards are located in Northern Napa Valley in the Calistoga AVA. I guess it turns out I love Napa whites as much as I love Napa reds[11].

So go forth, alleged blog readers, and find your new white wine for summer! Start with these or find something new and tell me about it in the comments!

Cheers to warm weather adventures! Until the next glass!

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Lawyer Footnotes
[1] Well, maybe not your mother, but my mother certainly loves it.
[2] I’m literally kicking myself for only grabbing one.
[3] DOCG stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita.
[4] Because you didn’t order when it came up on Last Bottle
[5] I have no idea where it came from. It’s been in my basement for a while, so I decided to drink it.
[6] Sadly it’s out of stock and I’m very sad.
[7] If you haven’t used your free $100 yet, you’re crazy, but I’m here to help you out. You get $100 off an order of at least $165, so you essentially pay $65 for a case of wine. And the wine is good. So far, really good. Click here to get started. You’re welcome.
[8] I mean “finally” in the sense that I’m not going to include any more bottles in this post, not “finally” in the sense that I’m not going to drink other delicious white wines this summer.
[9] A phrase I just coined, although I’m sure it’s been done before. Translates to “instant smile”.

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Spring flowers make me InstaSmile. In case you hadn’t noticed #GardenBlooms

[10] It paired well with my gourmet dinner of hot-sauce laden left-over pasta salad, topped with tortilla chips. Who am I? #adultingishard
[11] How was Napa not on my Wine Bucket List?! It is now.