Well, this is a bit different.
Spicy white wine. Yeah, you heard me. White wine, with a tongue exciting, brain arousing, spiciness. Not a savoury spice, particularly. More the kind of subtle spice you might find in Eastern sweet-meats, Turkish delight – something like that.
The grape is Gewurtztraminer. Not German, as you may expect from the name, but grown widely around the world in small quantities.
It’s a difficult one to get right. A combination of high sugar levels and low acidity in the grapes can result in an overly sweet and alcoholic concoction – something that’s more likely to happen in warmer climes. It makes sense then that probably the most famous place for Gewurtztraminer is the Alsace region of France, which has a comparatively high concentration of the grape and is capable of producing it in varying styles.
It’s where this (thrillingly tall) bottle of Rene Mure Gewurtztraminer 2008 Signature originates. For my money it’s a great introduction to this highly distinctive variety.
Forget your Cab Sav citrus tang, your Chardonnay mineral refreshment. This is an indulgent, aromatic, exotic wine. Like a sprawling tropical plant blooming on a sun soaked terrace. The seductive nose has plenty of perfume, a breathy swirl of lychee and rose petal.
Then a sip of this golden nectar yields a mouthful of peaches. It’s soft, mouth-filling, with little acid tang. A real soft-edged fruitiness followed by a hint cinnamon spice, of juicy spiced raisins soaked in alcohol.
And there is plenty of alcohol here, 13% and you can taste it, but the cool Alsace climate has prevented this from turning into a liquid pudding.
That’s what’s great about it – despite all the sensuousness, it’s actually pretty dry. There are of course sweeter examples out there if you’re in the mood, but I enjoyed the unexpected flavour and spiciness without the sugar-rush and dish-limitation of a dessert wine.
It’s not one for everyday drinking, as the price may indicate, but certainly worth it if you want to spice up your evening with a touch of the exotic – especially if you have suitably some spicy food to match.
You can get it for £12.50 at Elwood Wines.