Showing posts with label Gewurztraminer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gewurztraminer. Show all posts

Thursday, August 24, 2017

WineGirl Wines: An Interview with Angela 

Lake Chelan AVA (pronounced "shell-LAN") is a wine region that's starting to gain popularity in Washington State, as well as the United States and southern BC. One of the younger AVAs in the USA, the first production vineyard was planted in 1998, and the first bottles were released in 2002. Currently there are more than 20 wineries within the AVA, releasing wines of promising popularity with varietals including Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and aromatic whites including Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer. In 2004, a talented young winemaker stepped onto the scene and has since become a standout producer in the region. Her name is Angela Jacobs.


Angela found her passion of wine while working part-time for an Italian restaurant. After obtaining her degrees at the University of Washington, she set out to learn winemaking skills from across the globe. When she returned, she purchased 2 tons of wine grapes from the Red Mountain area, licensed her first winery in Seattle and began producing Viognier, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. WineGirl Wines was the 16th winery to open its doors in Lake Chelan. I had a chance to sit down with Angela in the WineGirl Wines tasting room to learn more about the AVA, as well as taste some of the wines she creates.

1. What was the wine that kicked off your passion?
Archery Summit Pinot Noir 1996. I think I still have the bottle!


2. Your bottles are beautifully labelled! Who does the artwork, and what is the story behind them?
A Canadian artist named Francine Delgado, based out of Vancouver. Originally the labels were drawn in a style similar to Disney Princesses, but I preferred the pin-up style of girl so we changed it. I also wanted to showcase the natural beauty of Lake Chelan, so the backgrounds consist of our natural attractions such as Chelan Butte and Wapato Point.


3. How would you describe this year's growing season?
It's been a good growing season so far, the dry heat hasn't affected the vines because of irrigation. Harvest will likely begin around mid-September this year.


4. Which of the wines you create are you most proud of?
I prefer to produce wines that appeal to the local demographics. For example, I started to make a sweet Gewurztraminer when visitors from nearby Leavenworth requested more sweet wines.


5. One of the varietals you grow is Tinta Roriz, in which you use to produce a Port-style wine. What was the inspiration and story behind choosing this varietal?

I wanted to do something different in a more mechanical sense, and a Port fills that with fortifying the wine as well as some aging. Originally I wanted to use Touriga National, but in the end I chose Tinta Roriz, which is the Portuguese name for Tempranillo. Port also fills the sweet wine need in the area.


6. The 2011 vintage was known to be cool and rainy throughout the West Coast. Was this the case in Lake Chelan, and how did your vines and wines fare during this difficult growing season?

Rain continued into June and the grapes didn't really ripen. I had to pull our 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon from the tasting room when it was released as I feel it's too young to drink now, but the wine would be good for aging.


We then tasted the 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon. Deep ruby in colour, a bouquet of red currant, stewed green peppers and a hint of charcoal leads into a palate that shows more red fruit like raspberries, with a hint of tobacco leaf on the finish. The tannins are focused and well-integrated, marrying well with the mouthwatering acidity to create a complex, full body. This wine spoke to my palate now, and will also evolve in the cellar for 5-7 years. Try pairing this wine with a slow roasted cut of AAA beef, and you will see how well this wine can shine with food!

Angela's dedication and passion are well reflected in the wines she produces, and combined with the natural terroir of the AVA, the sky is her limit. She will do great things as Lake Chelan gains popularity within the USA, and potentially worldwide as the wine market grows.

Thank you Angela, for sitting down with me and showing me the wines Lake Chelan has to offer. Cheers!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Tale of 2 Wine Regions: Part 3 and Conclusion

One of the most well-known white wine grapes in the world is Riesling. Although it is widely grown in many countries world-wide, it is synonymous with Germany, where the first known mention of it was found, and where it remains the most widely-planted varietal today. Other regions that are known for their Rieslings include the Clare Valley in Australia, Austria, Alsace, and Canada, both the Niagara and Okanagan regions.

With hard wood on it's trunk and hardy fruit, Riesling grapes can withstand frosts and cold temperatures, and are resistant to downy mildew. It ripens late, which make it ideal for late-harvest wines, botrytised sweet wines, and even Icewine. Riesling wines tend to be high in acidity and low in alcohol, with a wide flavour profile that includes blossom, stone fruits, citrus, and even petrol and kerosene with age. One of the most unique characteristics of Riesling is it's aging power; it can last for 20+ years in a cellar.

My husband and I compared Gray Monk's 2011 Riesling with Trimbach's 2010 Riesling. The style of the Trimbach Riesling is similar to the "kabinett" style of German Rieslings: light-bodied, with high acidity and more citrus flavours on the palate. Alsace Rieslings tend to have more body, are higher in alcohol, and show a distinct flinty note. The flavours my husband and I detected were blossom, green apple, honeydew melon and lime.

I found the Gray Monk showed similar characteristics on the nose and palate, but it also had the traditional peach flavour that attracts many to Riesling. It had a little more sweetness (off-dry) and the acidity was more mellow in the mouth. It seemed to be more balanced than the Trimbach, where the acidity in the Alsatian wine seemed to overpower the flavour intensity. This surprised me because the Alsatian was older by a year, and I thought it would have settled more than the Gray Monk, which comes from a colder climate. Both my husband and I preferred the Gray Monk over the Trimbach because of these reasons. In comparison to the standard characteristics of Riesling, the wines were on par with eachother, and we ranked both Rieslings as "good" using the WSET Advanced quality assessment. In fact, all 3 varietals were ranked the same quality throughout the project. And all wines retailed under $30 CDN.

The final "scores", based on personal preference:

Gewurztraminer: Tie. My husband preferred the Sumac Ridge, I preferred the Trimbach.
Pinot Gris: Pfaffenheim 2010
Riesling: Gray Monk 2011
Overall: Tie!

So are there differences between Alsace and Okanagan's noble varieties? I would argue yes. The differences we found were in acidity levels (in 2 of the 3 varietals), body, and flavour characteristics. If you like wines that have mouth-watering acidity and minerality with apple and citrus flavours, Okanagan white wines are a great bet. If you prefer a more mellow, fruit-forward white, Alsace wines are a must-try. These would all vary due to the climatic and soil differences between both regions. However, there really isn't a difference between the wines that were compared when assessing the quality. Try it yourself and see what you prefer, you just may be surprised like we were!


Friday, August 30, 2013

A Tale of Two Wine Regions, Part 1

"So why do Okanagan wineries generally produce whites like Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris?" My husband asked me on our annual trip there this past month.

Good question. And coincidentally, those three varietals he mentioned also happen to be 3 of the four Noble Grape varieties of Alsace, France.

Let's face it, the Okanagan isn't known internationally as a major region with high-demand, high-priced wines. But Alsace is located in one of the most well-known wine regions of the world: France. If all three of these varietals produce the majority of the wines made in both regions, can Okanagan whites can be just as good in quality as Alsatian wines? I am hoping to find out, so I made it my late summer project of 2013.

The Purpose: To compare and contrast the flavours and structural elements of the Okanagan aromatic white wines with the quality of the same Alsatian Noble Varieties via 3 blind tastings of each varietal from both regions (6 wines total). Can my husband pick out which wine is from which region?
The Grapes: Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Gris
The blind-tasting "Guinea Pig": My Husband. I won't be tasting blindly (someone has to pour the wine!), but will be taking subjective notes as if I didn't know what each wine was
Timeline: 2-3 weeks, with 3-4 blog entries devoted to the project

Alsace and the Okanagan have a few terroir-related things in common. They are both classified as having continental climates, meaning there is a wide temperature range between the warmest and coldest months of the year (the Okanagan has a much wilder temperature swing). Both regions generally experience hot, dry summers and longer-lasting Autumns, ideal for ensuring the grapes have reached both full and physiological ripeness, and provides ideal conditions for late harvest wines. Both regions are also known to have arid, drier conditions; Alsace is protected from wind and rain thanks to the Vosges Mountains, and the Okanagan lies between 2 mountain ranges, creating an arid, semi-desert micro climate. The soils are extremely varied in Alsace, also due to the Vosges mountains. The Okanagan's vineyards are planted on sandy loam or alluvial gravel soils. This could reflect the differences in the wines between the two regions, as well as other factors like vineyard practices and vinification techniques, which can vary from winery to winery. But if the climate is fairly similar, do the regions produce similar wines?

We started with Gewurztraminer, a wine that enthusiasts tend to either love or hate. Wine snobs generally stick their noses up at Gewurz - the HoseMaster of Wine refers to it as "The first choice of sommeliers everywhere to be left off the by-the-glass list.", among other pretentious comments. However, women tend to love it for it's perfumed bouquet, slight sweetness and approachable, easy-to-drink nature.The German word for “spice", Gewurztraminer wines tend to be full-bodied, with an oily texture, low to medium acidity, and also can be high in alcohol, with aromatic notes of lychee, roses, and naturally, spice. Gewurz wines have proven to be a good match with turkey, spicy dishes like curry, and ladies' nights out. The 2 bottles we compared were Trimbach's 2010 wine (Alsace) against Sumac Ridge's 2012 Gewurz. Since I wasn't able to get both wines of the same vintage, I took into account the fact that Sumac's acidity may be higher and the flavours riper, whereas the Trimbach may be showing more signs of age (golden colour of the wine, smooth texture, etc). Both of the wines were bottled in the well-known "Flutes d'Alsace", a taller, thinner wine bottle with a long neck.

I found the Sumac Ridge Gewurz to have a complex and intense flavour profile of green apple, lychee, pineapple and blossom, along with well-balanced acidity. Although it needs a few years to settle a bit, it is drinkable now. My husband detected notes of nectarine & apple with a hint of minerality and crisp acidity.

The Trimbach Gewurz had the trademark oily texture with a rich, golden colour, smooth texture and flavours of pineapple, apricot and spice. My husband also found the Trimbach to be a thick and oily wine, with a bouquet consisting of green apple, blossom and honey.
We found that both wines had similar flavours; blossom, pineapple, the traditional lychee and green apple. Both wines also showed great body and flavour intensity, as well as intriguing complexity. The Sumac Ridge Gewurz showed a hint of minerality that the Trimbach did not have, and the Trimbach seemed to be more typical of a Gewurz wine with more aromatic flavours and the typical oiliness. When I asked my husband if he could pick out the Alsatian wine, he thought it was the Sumac Ridge.

All in all, my opinion is that Gewurztraminers from both regions have similar flavours and complexity and a few minor differences. But this is just my opinion. Despite the fact that some in the wine industry look the other way when it comes to this varietal, I recommend both of these wines for those who love Gewurz and the elements that make it what it is. Try it yourself and see what you think!

Up next: Trimbach vs Gray Monk: A Ries-slinging (like mud-slinging?) battle



Sunday, February 6, 2011

The V-Day Menu!

Once a month I like to delve into my past by cooking my husband a 3 course meal one Sunday per month, just as if I was in the college kitchen. I do this not only because I love to cook & bake, but I also find it helps ease the transition through the Sunday doldrums and into the "case of the Mondays" by having a wine-paired dinner to look forward to at the end of the weekend. The celebration of my 30th birthday continued on January to the 29th, when Matt threw me a party for my western friends & family, and to thank him (and celebrate our love around Valentine's Day...we are cheesy, I know!) I am going to start the 2011 3-course events by adding a little more spice to our lives on Sunday, Feb 13.

The Menu:

Slow Cooked Buffalo Chicken Bites
Chipotle Pork Chili
Herbed Cheddar Bread
Mexican Chocolate Cake

The wine pairing: Sumac Ridge 2007 Gewurtz-a good wine recommendation with the chili that I found recently.

To start accumulating the ingredients for this menu, my DH & I ventured to the local market yesterday. I was tempted to pick up blue cheese to pair with the wings, but decided last minute to try them with some of the feta I already have at home. I went to pick up some Louisiana-style hot sauce and to our surprise, there was a sale on 4 bottles for $10, so we decided to start up a habanero hot sauce collection! We now have 3 different sauces, each one featuring a different coloured pepper.

Stay tuned to see how the menu turns out!
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