Spy Valley and Envoy 2016 Gewurztraminer

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. www.spyvalleywine.co.nz


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

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