This article was published in The 30 Second Wine Advisor on Friday, Jan. 4, 2008 and can be found at http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/tswa20080104.php.
Let's wrap up this short holiday week with a quick look at a wine that wraps up last month's Wine Focus topic on Gewurztraminer and comes within a dollar of making the cut for this month's Focus on affordable wines of value.
Claiborne & Churchill's 2006 Central Coast Dry Gewürztraminer "Alsatian Style" just about tells its full story in its wordy label.
It is a small, 25-year-old winery in the Edna Valley, near San Luis Obispo on California's Central Coast. Owners Clay Thompson and Fredericka Churchill-Thompson, the "Claiborne" and the "Churchill" of the winery name, declare themselves "inspired by the wines of Alsace," and they make California dry wines mostly from the same varieties that thrive in Alsace: Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris, plus a bit of Pinot Noir and a handful of others.
This wine, a recent release, is fresh and delicious, with distinct Gewurz character that's nicely balanced, not over the top. Billed as "Alsatian style," it certainly tips its chapeau in the general direction of Alsace. At $15.99 locally - a dollar or so less in some markets, more in others - it easily qualifies as a wine of value if not quite a candidate for the bargain bin. Here's my tasting report.
Claiborne & Churchill 2006 Central Coast Dry Gewürztraminer "Alsatian Style" ($15.99)
Clear light gold. Pleasant, fresh grapefruit aroma. Medium-bodied with a creamy mouthfeel, it's fully dry, with citric grapefruit flavors and zippy acidity, just a hint of peach-pit bitterness in the finish. Its 13.4% alcohol is well within reasonable range. Billed as "Alsatian style," it certainly tips its chapeau in the general direction of Alsace, but it's balanced and elegant, not a steroidally enhanced points-chaser.
FOOD MATCH: Balance and a degree of elegance make this more food-friendly than many Gewurz. It was a joy with simply sauteed boneless chicken breasts with a quick pan sauce of cream and grainy mustard.
VALUE: Save for a few profit-takers, most vendors offer this in the range of $14 to $18, and it's certainly fair at any of these prices, qualifying as a great value at the lower end of the range.
WHEN TO DRINK: Freshness is definitely a virtue in this excellent young Gewurz, which is ready to go for immeiate enjoyment; but it won't die prematurely with a few years on the wine rack or in the cellar.
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