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Featured Reviews

Spy Valley and Envoy 2016 Gewurztraminer

26 June,2017
Gewurztraminer was my first wine love, and that was in the 1970s. It was the boldness and flamboyance of the aromas and flavours that captured me. No other wine variety could do that, at the time. It is said that the wine has the spiciness to match Asian cuisine, so there was one tick, and many described the character of Gewurztraminer as being similar to lychees, so another tick. The richness and unctuousness of the best examples was something unique. Then, outside of Alsace, New Zealand appeared to have arguably the greatest potential to make outstanding versions, as led by Denis Irwin of Matawhero at Gisborne. But in truth, there were few others doing it as well.

Of course much has changed and three and a half decades later, but in essence, the number of people making great Gewurztraminer hasn’t grown tremendously. It’s just a difficult variety to get right consistently, and that frustrates growers, winemakers and consumers. What we are seeing is that the small number of producers wo do make it very well, do so consistently. And there is a much greater range of styles from the delicate florals examples to the rich, musky and root-ginger tasting bottles. In a way, it has never been better, but we just have to accept the fact Gewurztraminer, no matter how ‘noble’ it is, will never have a ground swell of popularity. Those who love it truly do, to the point of being evangelists, but they won’t sway the majority of drinkers.

There are a number of producers who make great Gewurztraminers in Marlborough. Among them, Te Whare Ra has the oldest vines, and Johanneshof has the Germanic-Alsace talent for it. Lawson’s Dry Hills and Framingham make top examples regularly, as does Spy Valley. At Spy Valley, you can easily sense winemaker Paul Bourgeois’ passion for Gewurztraminer, and his Spy Valley and more esoteric Envoy bottlings have shown well in competitions and gained a loyal following. Here, I review the 2016 Spy Valley and Envoy releases, the former made in a classical table wine style, the latter as a sweeter ‘vendange tardive’ style.


Spy Valley ‘Single Vineyard’ Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2016

Gewurztraminer from New Zealand – Marlborough

Bright, light straw-yellow colour with lemon-green hues, paler on the rim. The nose is elegantly presented with good depth and tightly concentrated aromas of savoury rose-petals and Turkish Delight , along with steely, fresh herbs and exotic musky notes. Nuances of spice, floral perfumes and minerals unfold with aeration. Medium-dry to taste and medium-full bodied, the palate is very deeply concentrated with flavours of rose-petal florals and musk, entwined with fresh herbs, spices, an array of exotic florals nuances and mineral elements. The palate has a firm core with plenty of fruit extract and subtle phenolic textures alongside fresh, lacy acidity providing energy and liveliness. The flavours carry with freshness and vitality to an elegant, lingering finish of exotic florals, musk, honey and minerals. This is an elegantly concentrated and deep, medium-dry Gewurztraminer with rose-petal florals, fresh herbs, musk and spice on a firm, but vibrant palate. Match with Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine over the next 4+ years. Clones GM12, 14, 457, 1106 and 1148 from the ‘Johnson’ vineyard, Waihopi, given several hours skin contact and fermented in oak and stainless-steel to 14.0% alc. and 12.5 g/L RS, the wine aged on lees. 18.5/20 Jun 2017 RRP $23.00

Spy Valley ‘Envoy’ ‘Johnson Vineyard’ Waihopai Valley Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2016

Gewurztraminer from New Zealand – Marlborough

Brilliant light golden-yellow colour with good depth, a little lighter edged. The nose is softly full and densely packed, with very ripe exotic tropical fruits and florals along with honey, musk and raisins unveiling some talc botrytis. The fruit is initially restrained, but unfolds to show full expression and volume and immense presence with aeration. Very sweet to taste and medium-bodied, the palate is rich and luscious with an unctuous and rounded, deeply packed, opulent heart, with succulent, exotic flavours of tropical fruits and florals entwined with honey, musk and raisins. The mouthfeel is near-oily in texture with a fine, underling thread of acidity. The wine carries with great drive, carrying to a long, rich, deeply packed and unctuous finish of exotic florals and fruits, musk and honey. This is a sweet, opulent and unctuous, deeply packed late-harvest Gewurztraminer with exotic fruit and floral flavour, honey and musk. Match with spicy cuisine or with fruit desserts over the next 5-6+ years. A ‘vendange tardive’ late harvest style. Clones 457, 1106 and 1148 from the ‘G Block’, ‘Johnson’ vineyard, fruit from the oldest vines, picked over two tries, the last with raisined berries and noble rot bunches, given overnight skin contact and fermented in small oak to 11.5% alc. and 105 g/L RS. 19.0+/20 Jun 2017 RRP $32.00
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