Famille Hugel Classic Gewurztraminer 2013
Lately I've become obsessed with Thai food. I've always loved it, but rarely thought to eat it very often until recently. In the past month I've been cooking various Thai dishes a few times a week, particularly the Thai Curry Vegetable Soup from Budget Bytes. It has plenty of authentic flavors, especially when you load up on extra fish sauce and add gobs of sambal oelek (chili paste). Maybe it's my latest pregnancy craving, but something about the combination of curry, coconut milk, lime, and chili spice really jives with my taste buds and I can't seem to get enough of it. So that got me thinking about how few wines actually pair well with Thai food. The pure fruit flavors of a Riesling are an obvious choice to accentuate the lime and balance the spiciness, but I'm going to go with the dark horse on this one: Gewurztraminer.
Guh....what? Guh-vertz-truh-meen-er. It's a very aromatic wine and it performs particularly well in the Alsace region of France. Alsace is unique in a few ways: first, it's heavily influenced by the German culture because its vineyards are located near the France/Germany border. The style of wine, cuisine, and language of the area are arguably more German than French.
Secondly, unlike the rest of France, wines produced here are varietally labeled and must be made with 100% of that grape variety, which makes it easy to select a wine. The climate of Alsace is also quite spectacular for winemaking. The vineyards lie in the foothills of the Vosges mountains. The Vosges protect much of Alsace from winds and rain, leaving the region dry and cloudless with hot summers and cool, long, sunny autumns. This kind of climate causes the grapes to fully ripen with high levels of sugar and flavors, creating rich wines with the signature Alsatian spiciness. Forget Austria, this is where I would spin around like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music.
The four main grape varieties grown in Alsace are Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, and Muscat. You can also find some Pinot Blanc, Sylvaner, and Pinot Noir. I've tasted all of the white wines and they are among some of the finest examples of these grapes in my humble opinion. I have yet to be disappointed by an Alsatian wine!
Now that I've sold you on the region, let's talk about this Gewurztraminer. Famille Hugel is one of the largest producers in Alsace and one of my favorites. As soon as I smelled this wine, four notes immediately popped into my head. That's how aromatic it is. I got notes of lychee, rose, grapefruit, and a stony minerality. Once I took a sip, I also detected peach, pineapple, and ginger. The ginger, lychee, and citrus notes really highlight some of the key flavors in Asian food. The wine is dry, full bodied with a silky texture, and very flavorful. It's a rich, yet elegant wine and just plain lovely. I can't wait to pick up another bottle when I can imbibe again. Definitely grab this wine if you happen to see it and keep Gewurztraminer in mind next time you have Thai food!
Famille Hugel Classic Gewurztraminer 2013: Thumbs up! $24