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Gewurztraminer

I held off from updating this forum for a good long while. Why? Lots of reasons. Busy with work, busy being lost in the grey of New York City. Perhaps I was readying myself for the long winter to come. Perhaps I was trying, as so many people do, to plan for ways to combat the icy dreariness of winter. As it turns out, feasting is often the best way to survive the cold months. In fact, this Wednesday I plan to get together with a group of friends and do just that: deny the loneliness of the coming winter. So we gather, and we praise the cleverness of cooking. We sit at the apex, the very culmination of our civilized state: cooking is now a celebrity act, and cooks are our demigods in media and in fact. Decadence, decadence: who’s to say what’s wrong or right about it? Bring it on, I say. Bring it on, and bring friends. And bring the following wines:

Prosecco Brut, Scu Dò, NV – There’s a reason everyone loves this bubbly. Light, dry and pale gold in the glass, this fizzing crowd-pleaser reveals citrus and baked bread aromas on the nose, with a nice mousse. Approachable, good for raising high in a toast. Perfect as an aperitif. $9.

2008 Dr. Konstantin Frank Dry Riesling – this wine will redefine what New York State wines can do. Beautiful. Dry, with a pronounced mineral element, this wine has definite notes of peach, mango, and apple blossoms on the nose. The mouthfeel is a nice balance of steely acidity and a touch of residual sugar, with more fruity notes of pineapple and citrus leading to a medium finish. Be ready. $15.

2009 Chateau Ste. Michelle Dry Riesling – Why not go for Washington State, with its surprisingly good white wines on top of their internationally renowned wines made from Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon? This showing has a nose dominated by peach and apricot notes, as well as some interesting floral notes and lime zest. Great balance here, with the 13% ABV offset by the fruit itself. A soft-yet-strident mouthfeel shows more beautiful fruit, with a long quenching finish. $11.

2008 Silver Thread Gewürztraminer – Another New York wine for the table! This is one of the most unusual and excellent wines I’ve had from the Finger Lakes. Rich, almost unctuous fruit with breathy aromas of lychee fruit, rose petals, and peach drizzled in honey. At first I thought this wine was sweet, but it proved bone-dry on the palate. Exceptional with white meats and lightly spicy dishes (have you ever made curry with your leftover turkey?). $18.

2009 Four Vines “Naked Vines” Chardonnay – From Santa Barbara County in CA, this wine has the acidity that makes it a perfect companion for food. Beautifully aromatic nose of lemon and lime zest, as well as other white seed fruit and floral notes, almost like Sauvignon Blanc in its strident (but not biting) acidity. Reveals a nice silky texture on the palate, with mineral notes and more tropical fruit leading to a medium finish. $14.

2009 P’tit Rouquin “Les Vins Contés” VdT, O. Lemasson – A delightful wine made from the Gamay grape, showing vibrant cherry red in the glass. The nose bounces fresh raspberry fruit, with some slight earthy notes. Great quenching acidity in the mouth, with more red fruit and some minerality leading to a nice bright finish. $15.

2006 Côte de Brouilly, Christophe Pacalet – Pacalet is a star in the world of Beaujolais; his wines are renowned for their finesse and purity of character. Bring some finesse to the feast with this aged Côte de Brouilly, a fine Cru wine with exceptionally concentrated cherry and raspberry fruit, followed by hints of savory hung meat balanced to perfect acidity. Awesome with the turkey. $17.

2007 Heitz Grignolino – Oh snap! That’s right, I propose you foist a wine from the Napa Valley on your family this Thanksgiving. But this is no ordinary Cabernet fruit bomb. This is that finest of all things, a beautiful and honest rendition of an obscure Italian varietal produced by one of California’s premiere producers. Pale coppery red in the glass, with an explosion of aromatics when poured: raspberries, strawberries, orange peel, and violets. Nice balance and good poise; silk-like texture. Long finish, strong on fruit but with hints of earth. $19.

New York State wines have always been at the edge of my consciousness; learning about wine meant reading about the states’ developing wine industry. I learned early about the potential of its cool-climate varietals grown in the Finger Lakes and Long Island, primarily Riesling and Cabernet Franc. Now, as a resident of Manhattan, I see New York wines on lists for wine bars and restaurants all over the city. The time is long past for me to share some of my New York finds.

Silver Thread is a little 10 acre vineyard located in the Finger Lakes region in upstate New York, founded at the eastern shore of Seneca Lake in the 1980’s by Richard Figiel. Due to its eastern location by the water mass, the site enjoys a microclimate where cooling breezes wash over the vineyards in summer and warm air blankets them in winter, extending the growing season while keeping temperatures ideal. Sustainable farming and green technology also feature prominently in the winemaking process: geothermal and solar energy are used for temperature control, and water is gravity fed into the winery from a spring by the vineyard. All of this careful labor results in artisan wines showing minimal processing, and thus exquisite finesse.

Their 2007 Gewurztraminer blew me away. A delicate straw color in the glass with slight green hues, clear as forest spring water in a romance novel. Incredibly fresh aromas of lychee fruit, peach, and hints of roses and spice. Based on the nose, it first comes across as a dessert wine, but it is bone dry in the mouth, richly fruity and a soft mouthfeel but lean with acidity that quivers like a taut wire. Long finish, intense, delicious, mouth-watering. Begs to be enjoyed by itself or with rich poultry dishes, baked halibut or quiches.