Wine of the Week: Cartograph 2009 Floodgate Vineyard Gewürztraminer

Welcome to a new weekly feature of Simple Hedonisms: ‘Wine of the Week.’ In addition to increasing my wine reviews, once a week I will pick a wine that’s my personal favorite. It may be a sample sent for review, something tried at a restaurant, something imported from K&L Wines, or one of the many bottles I have purchased in my travels and tastings.

When I review wine and samples, I try and separate out my personal palate preferences to review the quality of the wine, expression of the varietal. Wine of the Week will also combine some aspect of what I like as a wine consumer. No, it won’t always be a Rhone wine, as the inaugural pick shows.

Rediscovering Gewürztraminer

I love to branch out beyond the traditional varietals the New World palate has fixated on, the wine world is full of many hundreds of accessible varietals (Grape types.)

Gewürztraminer is sometimes associated as a slightly sweet, or off dry style wine, which doesn’t appeal to all consumers. Although a tiny bit of residual sugar (aka sweetness) is a very valid style and ideal for certain food pairings, this does not represent the full range of experiences and styles.

What is an Alsatian Varietal?

What is an Alsatian varietal? It simply refers to the Alsace region in France. You know of Bordeaux varietals like Cabernet and Merlot, Rhone wines like Syrah, Grenache, Viognier. The most commonly known Alsatian varietals are Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, and Muscat. If you are a fan of these wines, check out the Alsace Varietals Festival in Anderson Valley this February.

Who is Cartograph? Remember the Name, You’ll Want To.

Haven’t heard of Cartograph yet? Welcome to one of Healdsburg’s up and coming boutique producers, the love child of Alan Baker and Serena Lourie, focusing on Pinot Noir and Gewurtz.

Is that a bold statement in today’s crowded wine world? Go to their website and try to order their  2008 Split Rock or Two Pisces Pinot Noir. Guess what it says.

SOLD OUT

I had wanted to review the Pinots’ , got behind on reviews, and now it would be a tease. The good news is that Cartograph is stepping up production.

A Brief Synopsis

I’ll do a more in depth feature piece in the future, but it’s a fascinating story of two people passionate about wine. Alan, an award winning radio broadcaster who moved from Minnesota, NPR Wine radio show and Podcaster, a stint at Crushpad, and them jumping both feet into his true passion and destiny.

His partner Serena, who grew up in both France and the U.S.,  shared an inherent love for wine. First a an MS in nursing and then an MBA, then a founding member of a Venture Capital team, all roads pulled Serena back to wine, where she and Alan, by fate it seemed, intersected at Crushpad.

Their passions and lives melded together and Cartograph was born. There are more details and insight on the Cartograph website, it’s a worthy read.

Review: 2009 Floodgate Vineyard Gewürztraminer

To the Eye: Vibrant, pale yellow straw. Clear.

On the Nose: Gewürztraminer is a floral grape, I find in some cases the floral aroma profile can be overwhelming. Not with Cartograph; I want to bury my nose in the glass and leave it.  But I remove it because I want it in my mouth. Aromas of peach, stone fruit, honeysuckle wash over you.

In The Mouth: I am immediately struck by the pleasant viscosity of the wine. It’s  immediately pleasing and elegant on the palate. Honeydew immediately comes to mind. It holds through on the mid palate with lime and peach, and then finishes with a lingering kiss.

Where to Buy: The Gewurtz is available through a few distributors/shops (several in Healdsburg) you can find here or online. $22

Food Pairing: A fairly versatile wine; I enjoyed mine with roasted chicken, would pair equally well with Christmas Turkey, but in no means limited to these.

Recommendation: Wine of the Week, will inherently be indicative of a strong recommendation.

I’d like to further extrapolate this as an excellent ‘winter white.’ It was great this summer during the hot months, when the last thing you wanted was a cabernet or zin on a hot day, but its complexity and weight lend itself to the same characteristics I would look to in a white Rhone blend.

Important note: Do NOT overchill this wine. If you don’t have a wine cellar or regulated 52-58 degree environment and are pulling it from the fridge, let it sit for 15-30 minutes. Over chilling will numb its complexity, much like eating a bowl of butternut squash soup from the fridge, instead of the hot fragrance of the stove top.

Wine Geek Notes:

•Harvest Date: Hand harvested September 15th, 2009 (night pick)
• Brix at harvest: 24.0
• Crush and Pressing: Whole cluster pressed to steel tank
• Fermentation: 10 day ferment, 100% steel
• Aging: Aged 5 months in steel barrels
• Alcohol: 13.7%
• No malolactic
• Bottled: February 2010
• Case Production: 61 cases

Buy and enjoy a bottle, before what is left is gone – cheers!

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