Three regional gewürztraminer styles
Draw a horizontal line half-way between Hawke’s Bay and the Wairarapa (or Wellington Wine Country as they would like it to be known). Bordeaux reds and syrah are high-performers above the line while “cool climate” varieties such as sauvignon blanc, riesling and pinot noir are the winners south of the line.
Gewürztraminer is, by contrast, more promiscuous. It can produce top wine in any of the country’s eight major wine regions, although the styles tend to be rather different north to south.
I had a chance to test that theory when gewürztraminer from three wine regions landed on my tasting table. All South Island wines (it would have been good to have a North Island example) they were from Marlborough, Waipara and Central Otago.
Made from organic grapes mostly (80%) fermented in old barrels. It has a 12% addition of late harvest, botrytis affected grapes for extra richness. Very lush, rich gewürztraminer with floral, lychee, spice and a suggestion of honey. Rich, textural wine with a lengthy finish. The botrytis and barrel ferment serves to blur regional character. The hand of winemaker, Dr Andrew Hedley, looms large. (NZD $35 – 95 points)
This wine has a lot in common with the Framingham F-Series. Late-picked to encourage some botrytis influence, the cloudy juice was fermented in old oak barrels for extra richness and complexity. It’s a big and complex wine made in a medium-dry style. Winemaker Matthew Donaldson loves flavour intensity and is not afraid of a few tannins in white wine. The result is a big and complex wine with a strong winemaker signature. (NZD $30 – 94 points)
This is as much about “hands-off” as the others are “hands-on”. The result is a pure and ethereal wine that perfectly expresses regional style. Flavours are delicate rose petal, potpourri, spice and anise. Gentle, fruity acidity perfectly balances the sweetness. (NZD $25 – 92 points)