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Tasting: Albert Mann Gewürztraminer 2016

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Gewürz holds a special place in my heart for a number of reasons, but not all Gewürz are created equally – and in Alsace you find possibly the greatest variation of all.

This week has been a week when everything has gotten away from me. I’ve meant to have written a good two or three tasting notes by this point, but for whatever reason, life has conspired to force me in other directions. On the plus side, it is raining in the Hunter Valley at the moment, so the dams and water tanks are getting a bit of a top up.

In any case, tasting this Alsatian Gewüz after the Burgundy post earlier in the week kinda makes sense – the hierarchy of Alsatian wines is quite similar to Burgundian, but the key major difference is the plethora of white grapes allowed under AOC laws – in Alsace a white wine could be any one of Pinot Gris, Riesling, Muscat or Gewürztraminer. As such, identifying Alsatian wines would be difficult except for one key point – varietal labelling.

This used to be a mandatory requirement and whilst this is not so these days, most Alsatian wines still label the variety of the wine. On the main, the only time varieties don’t appear on labels is when the wine is a blend.

Albert Mann has 23 hectares of vineyards across Alsace and grows a number of varietals – from Pinot Auxerrois to Riesling, Gris to Gewürz along with small amounts of Muscat and Pinot Noir. Interestingly, most of their wines are bottled under screwcap and their website makes much of their decision to bottle this way. As an Australian, I couldn’t really care – we’ve bottled our whites under screwcap since 2003 and reds since 2005, so I readily understand the arguments for doing so. Likewise, I recognise the importance for a premium French wine producer to emphatically state why they are doing so. It still boggles the mind that in the US, the belief that premium wine cannot be bottled under screwcap still permeates – this discussion is several decades old now, and the result are firmly in.

But I digress.

The technical stuff is this: the fruit comes from a couple of vineyards located around Wettolsheim and Kientzheim on marly-limestone soils and it’s a 100% Gewürz. Organic and Biodynamic principles are followed in the vineyard, which isn’t that unusual in this part of the world.

Pale lemon in colour with an elderflower-y, orange peel-y, cardamon-y nose with some preserved lemons, a hint of lychee and musk thrown in for good measure.

Off-dry on the palate (apparently there’s 17g/L residual sugar, so only just off-dry) with a decent kick of acidity, good body and alcohol and some initial flavours of rose hip, preserved lemon, elderflower and then some light tropicals of lychee. No real kick of spice that you can get with Gewürz, especially drier styles. But the finish here was considerably short – call it short – medium to be kind.

The best example of Alsatian Gewürz this isn’t, but it was pleasurable enough – more fruit than complexity for sure, but interestingly one of our party who doesn’t drink wine often quite enjoyed it. The dash of residual sugar almost certainly bringing them over the line.

There’s enough in this to make me want to explore more of what Albert Mann produces, however, so watch this space over the coming months. I love Alsatian wine generally, so I’m looking forward to what comes next.

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