Gewurztraminer from Alsace is one of my favorite styles of wine. Maybe its because this is the region my fathers side of the family is from. His mother was born in Alsace and eventually moved to Paris before fleeing Europe before WW11. They brought their food and wine history to America. My dad always touted French wines and knew that Gewurztraminer was not for everyone, so, he added white and red Burgundies to his wine list for entertaining. Through osmosis, here I am-a true lover of Gewurztraminer and Burgundies. Today I will focus on one of my dad’s favorite Gewurztraminer producers, Charles Baur, whose winery is located in the heart of Alsace, miles from Colmar. The property has been with the Baur family since the early 19th century. After purchasing neighboring property in 1930 to establish a working winery, it wasn’t until 1950 that Charles started bottling and marketing his wine. Success came quite quickly. Charles acquired several other estates and took his son, Armand, who obtained a degree in oenology (1980) into the business. Today, Armand’s son, Arnaud (names get tricky), joined the family business in 2009 after obtaining a degree in oenology and agricultural engineering, specializing in winemaking. The original estate has grown to forty-five (45) acres, spread across several plots located on the classic slopes of Eguisheim and its vicinity, including Grand Cru Pfersiberg and Eichberg. All wines are made from estate fruit. The grapes are hand-picked and hand-sorted, then pressed in a pneumatic press. Low yields and total focus through each stage of development have made the Baur wines sought after. Like Burgundy, Eguisheim is made-up mostly of limestone and clay soil. The slopes are neither large nor small.
The DOC Priorat wines are aged in French oak barrels from eight (Petit Clos Penat) to fourteen months (Clos Penat). As a young winemaker, Jordi’s talents exceed his age. The two red wines we sampled at his restaurant were made by a veteran winemaker, one that knows intimately, the grapes he work with. Mr. Domenech is that type of winemaker. An intense, concentrated, dark fruit forward wine that rolls its velvety texture off your tongue and coats your palate with a long, strawberry finish. There is a freshness and ripeness to the wine that is drenched with soft tannins and ample acidity. Cherry red in color, the aromatics suggest red raspberry, dark chocolate with an orange spice background. Clos Penat is ready to drink, if decanted, but, would intensify in flavor if left to age 3-5 years. A medium-bodied, brilliant cherry color wine that hypnotizes you with its fruity aromas of kiwi, red plum, red raspberry and banana, followed by a faint spicy milk chocolate fragrance.
The palate comes alive with a lively mixture of red and black berries that sail motionless in the mineral laden, flavorful, persistent wine. When asked about his wines at the dinner table, Jordi Domenesch stated that the Petit Clos Penat 2012 was created to be an easy, drinking wine that, in our lingo, could be considered a ‘go-to’ wine. He went on to elaborate that the wine can pair favorably with many foods, which he proved with the tapas dinner that was served to us. Courses ranged from potatoes with squid to meatballs in tomato sauce. On the other hand, the Clos Penat 2010, according to Jordi was’ a more classic style, with more complexity and more volume with a deep flavor. Although the same blend exists for the two different wines, when people see both labels, they think it is the same wine, just in two different bottles. The flavor is so different after they taste the two, they realize how much of a mistake they have made’. Celler Jordi Domenech is a winery that is in the incubation stage, small and manageable, with growth in its future. His name is one to remember. As you can see, there is a common thread that joins each of the vineyards. Life is Catalonia is exciting. The wines tell the true story of how each vineyard is joined through history, creativity and family.
Furthermore, the Australian Government recently enacted the Wine Australia Regulations 2018 (replacing the Australian Grape and Wine Authority Regulations 1981) to help regulate and protect wine exports as far as product, shipment and licensing are concerned (ie. By region, Europe currently receives c. Australian wine, North America 26 million cases, and Asia 22 million. Within Europe, the United Kingdom is the biggest market, followed by Germany and then the Netherlands. More importantly, Australia’s Jacob’s Creek is the top wine brand in New Zealand! Australia has recently signed a number of free trade agreements, notably the Trans-Pacific Partnership (Australia plus: Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam. So, the recent focus has been on China. The current free trade agreement between Australia and China took effect in December 2015. France is still the dominant wine seller to China, holding about 40% of the imported wine sales market. However, Australia has been in second place for a decade; and, while French sales growth has been steady, Australian exports have skyrocketed. Indeed, it has been reported that, due to a smaller 2018 harvest plus the growing Chinese market, demand is now outstripping supply for bulk exports of Australian red and white wines. The recent focus has also been on premiumization. The Australian wine industry at large is slowly learning this same lesson. For example, over the past decade, the value of Australia’s wine exports to China has expanded roughly twice as much as volume. Australian inflation has been an average of 4% annually since 1901). So, I have used the Inflation Calculator available from the Reserve Bank of Australia, to convert all of the export values into 2017-equivalent AUD. This is shown as the reddish line in this next graph, for comparison with the unadjusted data.
To our great surprise, Bill immediately identified the masked wine — maker, grape, and year (Bowen Estate Claret 1975); and he had never tasted the wine before! He achieved this apparently remarkable feat by using both experience and deduction. Claret), and he had tried the one but not the other. After tasting the masked wine, Bill remembered that he had previously told me this, and he figured that the wine I had brought along would be the missing one. So, it is important to remember your customers, as people! I have only one anecdote of my own in similar style. I had always read about the smell of “sweaty saddle” in some wines, but had never experienced it. Then, one day, at dinner with a friend (the same one who had told me about Bill’s shop in the first place), she asked me whether the wine she was going to serve “smelled okay”.