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Refined Riesling, glorious Gewurz

Northside Staff Tasters: Dave Pohl, ed., Dana Malley, Alice Peters, Kelley O'Neill, Jason Wentworth, Joshua Beane, Bill Winston

The two grapes most readily associated with the northeastern French region of Alsace are Riesling and Gewurztraminer.

The Rieslings of Alsace are typically medium weight, dry wines with elegant flavors and aromas that suggest citrus, mineral, and peach. Gewurztraminer, on the other hand, is fuller bodied and less subtle, exhibiting bold tastes and smells full of lush fruit, flowers, and exotic spices (gewurz means spice).

The staff at Northside Wine & Spirits recently blind-tasted eight Rieslings and eleven Gewurztraminers from Alsace, and found the quality to be inconsistent. Indeed, a few Gewurztraminers were rather thin and insipid. The best wines, however, were fabulous. Three wines in particular stood out.

The 2005 Meyer-Fonné Riesling "Vignoble de Katzenthal" ($24) is a gorgeous wine [Sku 9875].* It has a lovely nose hinting at tangerine along with a subtle spiciness, while the palate reveals great refinement and balance. Tangerine also creeps into this wine's long, savory finish. It is an elegant wine, perfect for enjoying with a subtly seasoned seafood dish.

Gewurztraminers from two of the best producers in Alsace also shone brightly.

The 2005 Domaine Weinbach "Réserve Personelle" ($35) [Sku 9925]*and the 2003 Marcel Deiss (Bergheim) at $39 a bottle were both superb examples of fine Gewurztraminer [Sku 3553].*

The Weinbach is sleek, refined, and flowery, with an inviting lemon/lime quality at its core. The Deiss, made from organically grown grapes, is a big, lush, honeyed wine, intensely flavored, and finishes with a touch of sweetness. "Late harvest" in style, it can be served with pungent cheeses, rich pâtés, and other intensely flavored foods. On the other hand, both are delicious and memorable on their own!

"Top Wine Picks" as seen in The Ithaca Journal 09/10/2007.

* To purchase this wine, simply type its "Sku" into the "Find" field at the top of the page, and then click "Go."

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