Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Alsace Part 5: Klevener and Gewurztraminer

Gewurztraminer is one of the noble white wine grapes of the world. "Gewurz" means spicy in German and Traminer is a town in Austria where the grape originated. When grown and produced in Alsace, Gewurz exhibits both floral and spicy overtones within its light to medium (somewhat oily) body. It is the quintessential "crossover" wine in that it can carry enough character to accompany red meat meals. It is after all Alsatian and intended for saurkraut, sausage, fowl, or pate.

Klevener de Heiligenstein is a cousin of Gewurztraminer and exists in Alsace only in the town of Heiligenstein. Klevener was introduced to Alsace in the 1740's from its origin in the Italian Alps and was soon planted throughout the region. Gewurztraminer was introduced there in the 19th century and quickly supplanted Klevener. Today Klevener, also known as Savagnin, is colloquially referred to as the "lesser" Gewurztraminer.

Because the two grapes are related, they share many characteristics. Among these are a high acidity, relatively low alcohol, and an aging potential in excess of ten years.

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