WTN: Leon Beyer Gewurztraminer

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WTN: Leon Beyer Gewurztraminer

Postby Dan Smothergill » Mon Apr 03, 2006 9:44 am

'01 Reserve. This present to ourselves from a trip to Alsace was opened with great anticipation. Big spicy nose. No need to swirl this one much. Taste was recognizably Alsatian Gewurzt, but very thick and heavy in the mouth, almost unpleasant; possibly due to high RS but not noticeably sweet. Made me realize how much I associate Gewurz with a crisper taste. Is this a different style?
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Re: TN: Leon Beyer Gewurztraminer

Postby Thomas » Mon Apr 03, 2006 2:27 pm

Dan,

Is that your first Alsatian Gewurztraminer? They usually are thick in viscosity, the good ones.

Having said that, I've tasted other Beyer wines but haven't found them to be at the top of the list for my taste.
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Styles

Postby Dan Smothergill » Mon Apr 03, 2006 9:28 pm

I've had quite a few Gewurztraminers, most from New York and Alsace, but never one like this. Curious about how the varietal has been described, I did a very non-representative sampling and came up with these:

Otto Nieminen WLDG 3 Apr 2006. (Gewurzt in general): "astounding minerality"

Bruce Hayes WLDG 3 Apr 2006 ('99 Trimbach): "incredibly rich and intense, almost bordering on a dessert wine" In the ballpark of the Leon Beyer, but a much more positive spin.

Blurbs for various Alsatians in Sherry-Lehman catalog:
"subtle and delicate" Not the Leon Beyer for sure!
"beautifully balanced acidity" No.
"dry and peppery". Not really.

I understand that any wine can be made in a variety of styles. My question is whether, from my primitive description of this Leon Beyer, it can be recognized as one of them.
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Re: Styles

Postby Otto » Tue Apr 04, 2006 9:00 am

Dan Smothergill wrote:Otto Nieminen WLDG 3 Apr 2006. (Gewurzt in general): "astounding minerality"


Ooops. I didn't mean Gewurz in general. Granted my text does seem to refer to that now that I read it again, but actually I did mean the Trimbach 1999 also. In other Gewurzes I haven't had nearly the same intensity of minerals. Sorry for the confusion.

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Re: TN: Leon Beyer Gewurztraminer

Postby Thomas » Tue Apr 04, 2006 9:29 am

Dan,

When I produced wine Gewurztraminer was my signature product. When mature, the grapes are on the low acid side, which means you need some good alcohol, which means you need some decent sugar levels. The good part is that fully mature grapes do have an intense structure combining those identifiable (some call spicy) characters plus nice density--and then there is the terroir thing...

How the wine is fermented and at what temperature of course also means a lot, but in general, the aim is for a solid viscosity and 13% and up alcohol and retention of those so-called spicy characteristics..
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Range of Tastes and Terroirs

Postby Dan Smothergill » Tue Apr 04, 2006 10:38 am

Thanks for the explanation Tom. Like any good explanation it prompts further questions.

1) Can you suggest some Gewurztraminers capturing a range of tastes? (Which are your own favorites?)

2) What are your thoughts about the Finger Lakes as terroir for Gewurzt and on differences within the Finger Lakes as a region for it?

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Re: TN: Leon Beyer Gewurztraminer

Postby Thomas » Wed Apr 05, 2006 6:31 pm

Dan,

I've been away a few days. Just returned and am groogy. I'll answer tomorrow--April 6, I think...
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Re: TN: Leon Beyer Gewurztraminer

Postby Paul B. » Wed Apr 05, 2006 6:56 pm

Dan, thanks for the note and interesting post. I haven't had a Gewurz in a long time - I think I should go and buy one again. I will of course want to find an Alsatian one, but a completely dry one.

I'm afraid to say that here in Ontario at least, the Gewurz I've tried has without exception been lacklustre and very bland. It holds nothing up to the likes of even the modest Dopff and Irion from Alsace. Now, with my love of our region it pains me to say this - yet it is so.

Many wineries that grow it in Ontario seem to be content to make a nearly neutral, off-dry wine with it that carries the cachet of the varietal name, yet that delivers very little substance.

A grape as poignantly aromatic as Gewurz deserves to be gutsy and full-bore aromatically, and so I question whether the grape is really "happy" in our climate here. I do know that it succumbed badly to winter kill in '02/'03.

Traminette might be the answer, but I don't expect the cachet-conscious to go that route anytime soon.
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Re: TN: Leon Beyer Gewurztraminer

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Wed Apr 05, 2006 7:14 pm

Hi there Paul B....have to say that the Gewurtz I have tasted lately from the Okanagan have not been too impressive either. Matbe I am drinking too much Pinot Gris!!
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Re: TN: Leon Beyer Gewurztraminer

Postby Paul B. » Wed Apr 05, 2006 9:02 pm

As I say, Bob, I just feel that wineries are growing it for the name cachet. If you taste a good Alsatian Gewurz alongside a typical Ontario example, ours are just so darn neutral.

Most of our Gewurzes barely taste like Gewurz; they tend to be nondescript. Once I had one from EastDell and it was utterly neutral - no Gewurz character whatsoever. I had paid something like $18 for it and felt really ripped off.

There is such a blind dogmatism at work these days, that I doubt we'll see any honest experimentation in Ontario with grapes like Traminette and Vignoles that may work better and still provide highly aromatic wines.

Of course, the business side of things also works against such experimentation because even if a grower were interested in trying out these hybrids, the price per ton he'd get for them would be way lower than that for vinifera - even though the "noble" viniferas he's so gung-ho about actually make "noble" wines elsewhere!

Thank goodness home winemakers aren't bound by the constricts of the economy. We can make wines from any grape and learn about the wines. Consumer demands don't figure into the equation.
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Re: TN: Leon Beyer Gewurztraminer

Postby Thomas » Thu Apr 06, 2006 12:11 pm

Dan,

Question two first:

In the Finger Lakes, the best work with Gewurztraminer seems to be at Prejean Winery and Standing Stone, each on Seneca Lake but on opposite sides of the lake. Prejean produces two versions. Their sweeter version sells best at the tasting room; their dry version is--to my taste--much better. Standing Stone produces a dry version that can be quite good in some vintages, but the wines don't seem to have aging power, at least they didn't in the past.

To give you an indication of its aging power in the region, a few months ago a friend opened the last bottle he had of my Gewurztraminer--1991 vintage--blind. Still with a powerful nose of rose petals and the palate of lychee and minerals, the fifteen year-old wine was in great shape.

Having said that, the variety is sensitive to the severe temperature swings and usually short growing season in the Finger Lakes. In fact, Gewurztraminer accounts for about 25% of my decision to close my winery. The 1992 vintage was disastrous and there was little or no wine-worthy grapes. I had no Gewurztraminer and little Riesling to produce that year, and being as small as my operation was, with those two wines leading the way, their lack that year led me right out of business.

The same problem with Gewurztraminer occurred after the 2004 winter. While Aslace is a cool region, it enjoys much more stable weather patterns, and it rarely becomes as arctic as a normal Finger Lakes winter.

As for question number 1: knowing where you are, I'll give you names of producers you might have a good shot at finding, all of which have given me some pleasant representations over the years.

Albrecht, Paul Blanck, Dopf et Irion, Pierre Sparr, Trimbach--the black label; not the green one, Willm, Zind-Humbrecht.

Go see my friend Dana Decker, at Decker's, in Fayeteville.
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