flavours make Gewürztraminer one of the few wines that are
suitable for drinking with Asian cuisine. It goes well
with Hirtenkäse, Münster cheese, and fleshy, fatty (oily)
wild game. Smoked salmon is a particularly good match
name literally means "Spice Traminer", or "Perfumed Traminer".
history of the Traminer family is complicated, and not helped
by its rather unstable genome. The story starts with the
ancient Traminer variety, a green-skinned grape that
takes its name from the village of Tramin (Termeno), located
in the northeastern region of Alto Adige/South Tyrol, the
German-speaking area in Northern Italy. The famous ampelographer
Pierre Galet thought that Traminer was identical to the
green-skinned Savagnin Blanc that makes vin jaune
in the Jura. More recently it has been suggested that Savagnin
Blanc acquired slight differences in its leaf shape and
geraniol content as it travelled
to the other end of the Alps.
in Austria, Gringet in Savoie, Heida in Switzerland, Formentin
in Hungary and Grumin from Bohemia are all very similar
to Savagnin Blanc and probably represent clones of the Traminer
family, if not Traminer itself. The Viognier of the Rhone Valley may be a more
distant relative of Savagnin Blanc.
point, either Traminer or Savagnin Blanc mutated into a
form with pink-skinned berries, called Red Traminer or Savagnin
Rose. Galet believed that a musqué ('muscat-like') mutation
in the Red Traminer/Savagnin Rose then led to the extra-aromatic
Gewürztraminer, although in Germany these names are all
regarded as synonymous.
these convoluted genetics happening in the area that has
been the front line for a millennium of wars in Europe,
it is maybe not surprising that vines have been misnamed.
Given that the wine made from 'Gewürztraminer' in Germany
can be much less aromatic than that in Alsace, some of the
German vines may well be misidentified Savagnin Rose. The
Baden vineyard of Durbach claims its own type of Red Traminer
called Durbacher Clevner (not to be confused with "Klevner",
an Austrian synonym for Pinot Blanc). The story goes that
in 1780 Karl Friedrich, Grand Duke of Baden brought vines
from Chiavenna in Italy, halfway between Tramin (Termeno)
and the Jura, which was known to the Germans as Cleven.
Klevener de Heiligenstein or Heiligensteiner Klevener found
around Heiligenstein in Alsace may represent an outpost
of the Durbach vines. They are often described as a less
aromatic form of Gewürztraminer, which sounds just like
the Red Traminer!
is recorded in Tramin from ca. 1000 until the 16th century.
It was spread down the Rhine to Alsace, by way of the Palatinate,
where Gewürz (spice) was added to its name - presumably
this was when one of the mutations happened. The longer
name was first used in Alsace in 1870 - without the umlaut.
It is not clear what this name change represents, as it
seems too great a coincidence that the musqué mutation happened
just after the arrival of the great phylloxera epidemic.
More likely, an existing mutant was selected for grafting
onto phylloxera-resistant rootstocks when the vineyards
were replanted. In 1973 the name Traminer was discontinued
in Alsace except for in the Heiligenstein area.
the grape is grown in Spain, Italy, France, Austria, Bulgaria,
Croatia, Hungary, Luxembourg, Moravia in the Czech Republic
and Slovakia. In the New World, the grape is perhaps most
successful in New Zealand and in the far south of Chile.
Gewürztraminer is more notable for its occasional use of
old names like Traminer Musqué and Gentil Rose Aromatique
than the actual quality of the wines. However those from
the country's coolest regions can be fine examples. These
include Gewürztraminers from the Adelaide Hills, Eden Valley,
the island of Tasmania, Clare Valley, Hunter Valley, Yarra
Valley and the vineyards scattered in the Australian Alps.
wine regions where it is grown include Vancouver Island
and the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, the Niagara
Peninsula, and the north shore of Lake Erie and Prince Edward
County wine regions of Ontario.
reaches its finest expression in Alsace, where it is the
second most planted grape variety and the one most characteristic
of the region. It grows better in the south of the region.
Styles range from the very dry Trimbach house style to the
very sweet. The variety's high natural sugar means that
it is popular for making dessert wine, both vendange tardive
and the noble rot-affected sélection de grains nobles. As
mentioned above, around Heiligenstein there is a grape known
as Klevener de Heiligenstein, which is probably Red Traminer
(Savagnin Rose) rather than a true Gewürz; the Heiligenstein
wines are certainly more restrained than other Alsace Gewürztraminers.
has about 10 square kilometres of the variety, but it is
very different from that of their neighbours across the
Rhine, as suggested above a lot of their "Gewurztraminer"
is probably Red Traminer. The Germans go for a relatively
dry style, that tries to subdue the natural flamboyance
of the grape.
Traminer is native to the cool Alpine slopes of the Trentino-Alto
Adige/Südtirol in northeastern Italy. Whether the Gewürz-
mutant originated there or not is an open question, but
it is certainly grown there today. Confusingly, both pink
and green grapes may be called simply Traminer. This wine
is aged in Austrian oak rather than the Slavonian oak used
for most Italian wine.
United States, it is concentrated in Monterey, Mendocino
and Sonoma in California, the Columbia Valley of Washington
and Oregon. It is also grown in Michigan, Rhode Island,
Caddo County, Oklahoma, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Texas,
Virginia and the Finger Lakes and Long Island Regions of
not native to the Israeli climate, growing Gewurztraminer
grapes became somewhat of a trend in the late 1990s and
the beginning of 2000s. It is grown in different growing
areas all over Israel. Most notable examples come from the
Golan Heights and the Gallilee. All kinds of wines, from
dry aromatic ones to very concentrated sweet ones, are produced.
is particularly fussy about soil and climate. The vine is
vigorous, even unruly, but it hates chalky soils and is
very susceptible to disease. It buds early, so is very susceptible
to frost, needs dry and warm summers, and ripens erratically
and late. Its natural sweetness means that in hot climates
it becomes blowsy, with not enough acidity to balance the
huge amounts of sugar. On the other hand, picking early
to retain the acidity, means that the varietal aromas do
not develop, and these aromas may be further diluted by
overcropping in an attempt to overcome the low yields.