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Some U.S. "Alsatians" - Printable Version

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- Karena Shannon - 01-12-1999 12:50 AM

Over the holidays, we toured some of the wineries of Monterey County and Mendocino. The notes of those trips are in the “Touring” folder. Along the way, we picked up some bottles and consumed a few of them. The ones that are loosely Alsatian are detailed here.

’97 Bernardus Pinot Gris “Estate”: This grows in the Cachagua area of Carmel Valley, where grapes for Bernardus’s red “flagship” wine Marinus, are grown, as well as grapes for Durney Vnyd’s Cab, Georis’s Merlot, and Galante’s Cabs. (The winery tasting room has a beautiful photo, dominating one wall, of the Cachagua valley, showing each of the vineyards nestled kitty-corner to each other and the giant Comsat earth station antenna)
I doubted the ability of Pinot Gris to flourish in such a hot area. Indeed, this Pinot Gris tastes very different than many of the Oregon efforts or lower cuvees from Alsatian producers (I haven’t tried any single vnyd VT’s yet). They’re hard to describe from a spice-rack approach, but they taste like those PG’s I’ve mentioned, just with more intense and ripe flavors. Acid is present and balanced in this wine. It was a refreshing white wine, not overdone at all. My notes don’t indicate oak, and I’m wracking my brain to think if there was any---I would expect a lot of it in a Bernardus wine. Very nice, and I’m probably going to go pick some more up the next time I’m in the area.

’97 Navarro Gewurztraminer “Cuvee Traditional”: I like Navarro’s whites a lot. Their tasting room was pouring three dry Gewurzs; this was one of them. Why I don’t drink more of these, I don’t know---probably cause you can’t find them anywhere unless you’re on their mailing list. This was the cheapest of their three offerings, and the one that we bought the most of. Yeah, they’re probably down in concentration in ’97 than in other years (I don’t know that for certain; just repeating what I’ve heard) and the cuvee traditional didn’t taste as overdone as the Estate from that year did. A very nice finish caps off aromas of lychee, pineapple, and hints of roses (I still think Claiborne & Churchill’s Gewurz is the U.S. reference for that aroma). Nice Gewurz “bite”. Ludicrously underpriced at $11.

’94 Navarro Gewurztraminer “Estate”: Had this with a Cajun-style pasta and it was a pretty good match. Looking back, it was bigger than the 97 cuvee traditional, with aromas of grapefruit, white pepper and more lychee. Very nice. The Gewurz was aging quite nicely by this example, and some more time probably wouldn’t hurt it any.

Why, why do I drink Chardonnay?


- Enophile - 01-12-1999 08:27 PM

Karena, the '94 Navarro Estate is one of my CA benchmarks for Gewurtz, along with the '92 Lazy Creek. Both of those could come close to passing for Alsatians.


- Jerry D Mead - 01-13-1999 12:00 AM

I'll be reviewing it in a few weeks...in the meantime a hot Gewurz tip...the 1997 Thomas Fogarty "Monterey" ($12.50)...Threshhold sweetness California Gewurz just doesn't get any better.

Fogarty had an off vintage ot two, but prior to that had a string of gold medal years when it was either number one or number two in totaL medals. Most, if not all, of the fruit comes from Ventana.

JDM