Poor gewürztraminer. It has a hard time on the shelves of America's wine shops, as its umlauted name is tricky for non-geeks (guh-vertz-trah-MEEN-er), and even among geeks it has a reputation as a "love it or hate it" kind of wine because it has a very distinct lychee-and-roses kind of character that some people simply don't cotton to.

Me, I'm firmly in the "love it" camp. Gewürz is our favorite wine to drink with spicy Indian or Thai foods, as its floral qualities and sometimes slightly oily texture go very well with spicy food. Just as with riesling, gewürz can range from dry as a bone to a sweet dessert wine.

Domaine Barmés Buecher Gewürztraminer Rosenberg 1998(August): Burnt firecracker and lychee aromas, big and sweet smelling. A taste gives you a rich wash of upfront lychee fruit with an oily texture, simple and robust, that moves sluggishly through a wan midpalate and finishes prematurely. A bit quick on the trigger but not otherwise unpleasant. Decent enough, if undistinguished and a bit hollow. (8/7/01)

Domaine Barmés Buecher Gewürztraminer Steingrubler 1998 (Continuing): A bigass hootie all the way--almost a caricature of gewürziness, lychee candy drizzled with attar, oily mouthfeel, enough acidity not to cloy. I know it's a silly wine, but it makes me smile, and I'm fond of it for that. (9/23/01)

Weingut Blankenhorn Gewürztraminer Schleingener Sonnenstuck Trocken 1999(Foodies): Lightly and pleasantly aromatic, yellow flowers and freshly-peeled lychee. A sip, and the sweetness of the nose evaporates as a rather severe mouthful of dryass gewürztraminer clamps down on my tongue. A distractingly hard wine, I keep trying to like it more than I do, feeling somewhat ashamed of the Kanean urge to pour a teaspoonful of sugar into it to see if that will draw the fruit out of its armored shell. (10/14/01)

Maison Ernest Burn Gewürztraminer Goldert Clos St. Imer Cuvée de la Chapelle 1994 (Misplaced Weekend II): Medium-pale gold color. Sweetly vivid floral-fruity nose--rose petals and papaya, a touch of lychee, hints of canteloupe, boisterously aromatic. A sip, and it's modestly kickass stuff, sweetly tropical right off the bat, with a honeyed minerality emerging in the middle and turning lychee-spicy on the finish. Just a touch of sweetness, enough firm acidity to buouy up the rather viscous mouthfeel. Whee, a fun ride, with some heat on the finish the only problem. Big and dense but also well composed and balanced, a wine that makes my mouth most joyous.

Columbia Crest Gewürztraminer Columbia Valley 2002 ($8) (Boatloads III): Smells like ginger candy, tastes like ginger ale--medium acidity, very quiet, hint of sugar, bit dilute. Not actively bad, a bit simple, but okay I guess. [Buy again? No.] (2/05)

Covey Run Gewürztraminer Columbia Valley 2005 ($7) (Boatloads XI): Gently fruitcocktail-smelling, peach-lychee-honey aromatics. Tastes soft and just a touch oily, small and just slightly sweet. Pleasant enough, innocuous but with enough varietal character to work with shrimp vindaloo. [Buy again? Yup.] (11/07)

Domaine Marcel Deiss Gewürztraminer Altenberg de Bergheim SGN 1994 (Cellar Gems): Oh man, I'm a sucker for this. Rich lychee and honey and spritzy floral notes just make me smile. I've loved lychee since I was a kid, and there's a mess of it here. Best balance so far among the sweeties--nice and sweet but not gloppy or frighfully dense and perfectly balanced acidity make for a glass that I can't put down. Dessert wine of the night for me. (10/14/99)

Domaine Marcel Deiss Gewürztraminer Altenberg de Bergheim SGN 1994 (Sedate Evening): Pale straw color. Hoo, vivid aromatics--rose petal and hay over honey-drizzled lychee, bubbling with smellies. Tastes crisp and quite sweet, a charming little gewŸrz that blooms as it goes down. The midpalate meanders off in the direction of syrupiness, but is pulled quickly back by bright acidity. Happy happy mouth! Good to be alive! (6/05)

Domaine Marcel Deiss Gewürztraminer Altenburg de Bergheim VT 1992 (Quiz Show I): A pretty, gleaming pale gold color, with a rich, lush mineral-floral nose, plenty of nice bright lychee with a touch of cheesiness that mostly blows off with time and air. Sweet, viscous and round, but decently crisp, with a long stony-flowery finish. (4/7/00)

Domaine Marcel Deiss Gewürztraminer Altenburg de Bergheim VT 1994 (Robin in the Big City): Ah, sweet gewürz--my fatal weakness, my Achilles' heel, subject of my next book Smart Gewürzhounds, Foolish Choices: pale gold color, rich fat gew&u uml;rzy nose--plenty of lychee, honey & attar. Actually, it's only lightly sweet, it's soft and round in the mouth--doesn't have the acidity or balance of the 94 SGN, it's a bit oily, a bit flabby, but I forgive it its transgressions, accept its apologies, take it back one more time, and enjoy the rich ripe fruit. (2/7/00)

Dirler Gewürztraminer Saering 1998 (Geyservillainy): Pleasant if light aromatics, white coral and lychee. The flavors are broad but not deep, a wine that's light on its feet but leaves very little impression other than: "Hm. That's not bad. What else ya got?" (2/17/02)

Hugel Gewürztraminer Alsace 1998 (Loirenatics): Medium-light lychee-limestone-honey hints on the spritzy nose, very decent gewürz character, decent balance, if perhaps a bit low-acid, but nice floral fruit covers up for it. Slightly oily mouthfeel, a bit soft, but I'm a sucker for gewürz and I find it a nice change of pace. (11/99)

Pierre Frick Gewürztraminer Rot-Murlé Première Cuvée 1999(September 15, 2001): Bright and crisp in the nostrils, white flowers and white peach, stones and lychee. Tastes merrily crisp, a leaner style of gewürz that has a strong spine of acidity and little oiliness. Not exuberant, a racy and coiled wine. (9/15/01)

Albert Mann Gewürztraminer Steingrubler 1995 ($24.99)(Trilateral Offline): Pale straw; lightly floral-spritzy nose, delicate notes of honey and roses. .sasha wonders if this is the product of granite soil. I wonder, too, but only because .sasha wondered first. .sasha is on my right, and I find that if I hear him say something I can repeat it to the people on my left, who are then suitably impressed with my perspicacity. Sweet-smelling and smooth, with a nice medium-weight mouthfeel, more typical gewürzy-lychee flavors appear in the midpalate along with a pronounced minerality, couched with very nicely balanced acidity and no heaviness or overt viscosity. Finishes strong but not terribly long, a very nice balanced elegant package of gewürz. (3/14/00)

Müller-Catoir Gimmeldinger Meerspinne Gewürztraminer Auslese 1989 (Bradcave): Brad always breaks out the sweet gewürz when he sees me coming, and I'm a sucker for this one as well: pale yellow-gold; nose of all things good and gewürziful--rose petals, lychee, honey, with some pleasantly flinty undertones. Smooth and crisp, light to medium-sweet, vividly fruity, slightly unctuous mouthfeel. Yum. (12/19/99)

Müller-Catoir Gewürztraminer Haardter Burgergarten Auslese 1988 (Kane Manor): Light golden-amber; flinty lychee nose, lush & velvety; in the mouth lychee/honey, nice & rich & slightly oily-feeling, well balanced by some nice crisp acidity. I didn't take too many notes on this because I was enjoying the pure sweet gewürz fruit go down. Very, very nice.

Müller-Catoir Gewürztraminer Haardter Burgergarten Trocken 1989(Thoresa): Typically exuberant MC smellies, although there is a tired quality to the lychee and yellow apple fruit, and the rose petal notes that emerge with air are those of week-old roses. The wine has a big, oily mouthfeel but is austere on the tongue, and the midpalate seems to be at odds with itself, disjointed and a bit hot. (10/7/01)

Joseph Phelps Gewürztraminer California 1994 ($8.99): From the bargain bin, a pale medium gold-colored wine, yes, you can tell it's gewürz--soft hints of lychee & apple juicy notes on the nose. Tastes heavy & flat, there's some ripe limp fruit there, just a hint of attar, fades quickly into an odd flinty finish. Not offensive, not very good, on the way out. No, I don't know why we bought this, either. Maybe some kind of a mixup at the checkout counter. (2/29/00)

Andrew Rich Gewürztraminer Willamette Valley Ice Wine 2002 ($24) (16% RS) (Oregon): Yowf, smells extravagantly gewŸrzy, like lychee jelly-candies drizzled with attar. Very very sweet, almost syrupy, with almost but not quite enough acidity to carry it off. Too much sugar, too little spine. (5/04)

Domaine Schoffit Gewürztraminer Alsace Cuvée Caroline 1994 ($22.99): Deep amber in the glass. Florid nose of mineral oil and canned lychees & rose petals. Viscous on the palate. Whooee. Glycerine, fruity sweet lychee juice--seems slightly fizzy, peppery, tingly. Tried with a stirfry--too much, too overpoweringly fruity. Low acidity, but far from flabby. Fruit is very very very full, runs the gamut from apple-tart to almost spicy-buttery. Notes of peach & nectarine also creep in. One sip lasts a long time; the finish is just about as long as I've ever tasted in a white wine, echoing & flashing the lychee & peppery tastes for a minute at least. Puzzlingly pleasurable--almost dessert-wine thick. What possible food could match this? Another sip, and the acidity is clearer and crisper, just buried deep under layers of glyceriny fruit. Peculiar and compelling, but we could barely manage one glass each.

Domaine Schoffit Gewürztraminer Alsace Cuvée Caroline 97 ($23.99) (All CNN Wines): Really boisterous sweet-smelling lychee nose just leaps right out of the glass and into my nasal passages, lychee syrup up the wazoo. A taste, and the sweetness in the nose is belied by a surprisingly dry wine, weighty and well oiled but with a certain elephantine balletic grace. All the usual gewürz goodies are accompanied by a light but clearly defined mineral streak that surfaces immediately after the first wave of fruit and lingers through the finish. Somewhat overdone, but memorable and fun. Three colorfully decorated red plastic and papier-mâché Prongs with lit sparklers stuck in them, dusted lightly with confectioner's sugar and sprayed with Shalimar eau de toilette. (11/11/01)

Weingut Sighardt Donabaum Gewürztraminer Select Bruck 2002 (Foodies 3): Smells roseyfloral, minerals and lightly lycheeish, shy aromatics. Medium-lightbodied, seems almost entirely dry, a smooth and light gewürz with a brisk air about it. Unusually elegant and racy, with an underlying stoniness that adds to the air of restraint. Very nice, a good match with Jeff and Jim's curried shrimp with countless condiments. Apples, toasted pecans, raisins... they keep coming, so many condiments... candied ginger, chopped figs... please god make them stop... watercress, monkey brains.... (2/26/05)

Standing Stone Vineyard Dry Gewürztraminer Finger Lakes 1998 (Finger Lakin' Good): A profoundly non-colored wine. Mmm... dig that gewürzy nose--rose petal & honeysuckle, very nice, floral and rich-smelling. In the mouth it's a bit round, a bit soft, but full of light gewürz fruit. Turns slightly earthy on the finish, but that's a quibble. A light food-friendly gewürz, lacking any oily or unctuous qualities. (12/8/99)

Trimbach Gewürztraminer Seigneurs de Ribeaupierre 1990 ($24.99)(Manuel and Josie): This old pal is holding up like a champion. It seems aromatically light at first, but swirling coaxes up some seignateure aromas: honeysuckle and pear, with light lychee and suggestions of nutty earthiness; it's developed a pleasant light nutty note that I hadn't noticed a year or two ago. This is a crisp and racy gewürz with impressive structure and balance that has aged well and could perhaps go another ten years, which sets off a conversation about how long dry gewürzes can live in captivity and where they go when they die. Is there a legendary Graveyard of the Gewürzes? I don't know, but this would be a good specimen to experiment with. (4/23/00)

Trimbach Gewürztraminer Alsace 1995 ($10.99) was a spicy mouthful. Lychee, with a hint of apples & pepper. Faintly exotic. There was an odd note (mineral oil? metal?) in the nose, but it wasn't unpleasant at all. Medium-bodied and fairly juicy. (9/98)

Domaine Weinbach Gewürztraminer Clos des Capucins VT 1990 (VS Eats at Joe's): Spry clementine-mineral-lychee accented nose. The body of the wine is a bit shy, not offering up much. Just not much going on. What's the story? A lightly sweet wine, not quite desserty-sweet. I find this curiously neutral for a VT gewürz. (11/7/99)

Jean d'Alsace brought us a nice present from his homeland that we quaffed over at Bea's with Allen's 'Indian Chicken'--Wolfberger Gewürztraminer Les Armoriés Alsace 1997: Very light, pale straw color; delicate, smooth, balanced gewürz nose, light, spicy lychee-syrup aromas. In the mouth lovely balance, delicate, crisp & floral--light, but very richly flavored, honey, pear, apple and lychee notes. Not even remotely viscous, but very smooth-feeling, with a glyceriney, mouth-coating quality. Spritzy, bright & crisp, really a prince among gewürztraminers. Served with spicy Indian-style chicken, it was a perfect complement to strong cardamon & curry flavors. I have fairly limited experience with gewürz, but have often found them either syrupy (like drinking canned lychee syrup) or too over-the-top floral to go well with food; this was neither. Shame on me for generalizing about an entire varietal! (5/8/99)

Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Gewürztraminer Clos Windsbuhl 1992(Baseball Jeebus): This is in a nice place right now, the nose has settled into velvet-toned light lychee and white flower notes, calm and perfumey. Tastes bigger than it smells, lightly sweet, big and boisterously white-flowery with a slightly oily mouthfeel. It's a big wine without many layers of flavor but with a lot of juiciness. .Sasha calls it 'sugar water,' but I'm a sucker for gewürz and it's okay with me. (10/24/00)

Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Gewürztraminer Turckheim 1996 (Jason Take Manhattan): Pale straw color, lightly aromatic, pleasantly classically gewürzish; rosy attar, lychee and limestony hints. In the piehole it's a muscular wine with a bit of oiliness, but utterly dry and somewhat rough and sinewy going down, with some stern tartness to the fruit and a gap in the finish. There is a moment of consideration as to the the notion of adding a sugar packet or two to the bottle, but the idea is voted down as overly interventionistic and possibly illegal in this state. This young gewürz needs time to settle down and find itself, maybe bum around the country for a few years, see the sights, you know, smooth out. (5/00)

Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Gewürztraminer Heimbourg 1992 (Waiting for Callahan): "[They taste.]

CHRIS: This wine has a delicate, softly floral nose, light lychee & honey, very beguiling, but when you sip it it's very fat and thick--overextracted and a bit oily, although it finishes with a nice sharp tang that leaves you wanting more. It's a little confusing to me.

STUART: Callahan will explain it to you."

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