Alsace Willm Gewurztraminer Reserve 2018
This classic Gewurztraminer is 100% Hand harvested and softy pressed. It then spends 4-6 weeks in controlled fermentation in stainless steel. The final wine is then matured on the fine lees for another 2 to 3 months prior to bottling. The wines are fresh, fruity yet subtle and balanced.
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The wet spring and hot summer of 2018 brought this gewurztraminer to a heightened state of generosity. This is not a complex, long-lived wine. It’s just remarkably healthy. Having returned to this bottle for three days, taken in by its refreshing cut of acidity, its stony minerality and bright herbal notes of lemon verbena and thyme, I finally gave up and just wrote, “Ooof, that’s good.” It’s brisk, bright, generous and floral, with a meadow freshness. Best Buy
In 1896 the Willm family founded the Willm Estate in Barr, at the foot of the majestic Kirchberg de Barr Grand Cru vineyard. Willm has always been concerned with revealing the best of its terroirs and sharing its exceptional wines with the whole world. Thanks to the adventurous founder Emile WILLM, the estate’s wines were the first from Alsace to be exported to the United States in the early 1930s, after prohibition laws were lifted. Their wines are celebrated for their blend freshness, minerality and elegance; they are synonymous with tradition, terroir, purity and refinement.
If Willm isn’t in an American history book, it should be. The winery was the first producer in Alsace to export to the United States after prohibition, and it’s said that Al Capone favored the wines after his release from Alcatraz. Though the Willm family has been making wine in Alsace since 1896, their French heritage dates back to 1398. Willm’s portfolio includes four Grand Crus, sparkling Cremant d’Alsace and late-harvest sweet wines, in addition to their reserve range. The winery is known for its easy-drinking, well-priced Riesling that pairs well with shellfish, grilled seafood and white meats. Among Alsace’s rarer sparklers is Willm’s Crémant d’Alsace Blanc de Noirs, a white bubbly made from 100% Pinot Noir. The vineyards span the Haut-Rhin (upper Rhine) and the Bas-Rhin (lower Rhine) in three locations, encompassing a diversity of soils and allowing Willm to produce a range of styles. The winery received its organic certification in 2012.
With its fairytale aesthetic, Germanic influence and strong emphasis on white wines, Alsace is one of France’s most unique viticultural regions. This hotly contested stretch of land running north to south on France’s northeastern border has spent much of its existence as German territory. Nestled in the rain shadow of the Vosges mountains, it is one of the driest regions of France but enjoys a long and cool growing season. Autumn humidity facilitates the development of “noble rot” for the production of late-picked sweet wines, Vendange Tardive and Sélection de Grains Nobles.
The best wines of Alsace can be described as aromatic and honeyed, even when completely dry. The region’s “noble” varieties, the only ones permitted within Alsace’s 51 Grands Crus vineyards, are Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Muscat, and Pinot Gris.
Riesling is Alsace’s main specialty. In its youth, Alsace Riesling is dry, fresh and floral, but develops complex mineral and flint character with age. Gewurztraminer is known for its signature spice and lychee aromatics, and is often utilized for late harvest wines. Pinot Gris is prized for its combination of crisp acidity and savory spice as well as ripe stone fruit flavors. Muscat, vinified dry, tastes of ripe green grapes and fresh rose petal.
Other varieties grown here include Pinot Blanc, Auxerrois, Chasselas, Sylvaner and Pinot Noir—the only red grape permitted in Alsace and mainly used for sparkling rosé known as Crémant d’Alsace. Most Alsace wines are single-varietal bottlings and unlike other French regions, are also labeled with the variety name.
Gewürztraminer, an expressive and aromatically distinctive white grape variety, is considered a noble variety in the Alsace region of France, and produces wonderful wines in the mountainous Alto Adige region of NE Italy. Generally this grape grows well in cooler regions and its natural intensity makes it a great ally for flavorful cuisine such as Indian, Middle Eastern or Moroccan. Somm Secret—Because of a charming perfume and tendency towards slight sweetness, Gewürztraminer makes for an excellent gateway wine for those who love sweet wines but want to venture into the realm of drier whites.