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Wine of the Week for week ending 27 Mar 2011
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Astrolabe Voyage Gewurztraminer 2009
Marlborough, New Zealand

When people ask me what my favourite wine is, it is usually when I'm drinking wine so I answer, "The one in my glass". It always gets a bit of a laugh. But if I was being really honest, I would truthfully answer, "Gewurztraminer".

A good gewurztraminer has evocative aromatics that follow through to the palate with well-balanced flavours that are not too overpowering nor too wishy-washy and dilute. It's a low acid grape, so needs some phenolics to keep it in tone without letting the wine become too bitter. With the lack of acidity, phenolics will stop a wine from becoming flabby, especially as the gewurztraminer can attain quite high alcohol if the grapes become overripe. Flabby and alcoholic, I do not like.

It seems to be a difficult grape variety for winemakers to master, which is why only a few brand names roll easily off the tongue when it comes to choosing the consistently top New Zealand renditions. Names like Dry River, Johanneshof, Lawsons Dry Hills, Spy Valley, Waimea, Seifried, Te Whare Ra

There was a feeling of satisfaction when I read that Johanneshof Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2010 had taken out the Trophy for Champion Gewurztraminer at the 2011 Royal Easter Show, the trophies announced last weekend. It's a sweeter style and a rich food wine that is a superb match to foie gras, duck pate, spiced confit of duck with orange and flavours inspired by the spices and herbs of Thailand.

But I like also like the dry styles too.

I've been in wine trophy judging situations where the top dry style and the top sweet style vie for the trophy. In the end it often comes down to personal preference on the part of the judges and the wine with the most votes from the judging crew is the one which takes the top gong.

I wonder how the voting would have gone if this week's Wine of the Week, the Astrolabe Voyage Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2009 was in the equation for the trophy but we will never know as winemaker Simon Waghorn does not enter his Astrolabe wines into New Zealand wine shows.

The light gold-coloured Astrolabe Voyage Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2009 has a beguiling aromatic scent the pretty bouquet is perfumed with violets, smoker lollies, rose petals and exotic spices. Moderately dry to the taste, but fat and full in its impression, it has a softness to the texture that caresses the mouth with flavour. Everything that's in the bouquet comes through with a lovely touch of orange zest too and the whole experience was enhanced with food. We enjoyed this beautiful wine after about half an hour in the refrigerator and accompanied it with slow cooked pork belly encrusted with five spice and moistened with orange juice infused with Thai basil.

Made from 100% Gewurztraminer grapes grown at the Two Ponds Vineyard by award winning grower, Prue Wiseheart, there was a combination of hand and machine harvesting on the 5th and 16th April 2009. The small amount of hand picked fruit was lightly whole cluster pressed then fermented warm with grape solids in old barrels. The free run, clear, cold-settled juice of the majority machine harvested portion was fermented in stainless steel vat at a low temperature, using an aromatic yeast strain. The finished wine has 14.5% alcohol, 9.8 g/L residual sugar and 5.4g/L titratable acidity.

The price on the Astrolabe website, is $23.99 a bottle. Click on the link for more.

© Sue Courtney
23 Mar 2011

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