It irritates me when new world wine regions are compared to ACs in France (or anywhere else). For example “such-and-such a place is on the same degree of latitude as the great wine region of Bordeaux” or “such-and-such a place a cool continental climate just like Burgundy”. So what. That is one factor of many that determines the character of a wine region and the wines produced there. It’s just name dropping some of the great wine regions of the world to vaguely compare them to somewhere else.
After that little rant, I can’t help but notice similarities between two regions: Alsace and the Okanagan Valley, BC. Both are long vertical grape growing regions, both experience above average hours of sunlight, both have varied soil types (volcanic comes to mind), both are alpine, mountainousness, cool, continental climates in the northern hemisphere, both grow aromatic white grape varieties of which I think Gewürztraminer is top notch in both locations.
This observation prompted me to organize a little tasting for myself. I gathered three Okanagan Gewürztraminers and one Alsatian. Here are my notes:
2009 Kalala Gewürztraminer, Okanagan Valley
Medium gold colour with hints of copper or oeil de pedris. Slow, thick tears. Explosion of expressive aromas. Perfume, orange and lemon rind, passion fruit and babies breath. Slightly off dry. Generous alcohol. Medium acidity. Thick viscosity. Lingering flavours of spice and tropical fruits. Because this wine is youthful and sealed under screw cap it is a little tight at first. I highly recommend decanting it. Decanting turns up the volume on the flavours. When I tasted this wine a day later it blew me away.
2009 Lake Breeze Gewürztraminer, Okanagan Valley
Pale gold colour. Thick tears. Medium intensity of aromas lime zest, white lilies particularly lily of the valley, spice and a hint of toast. Off dry. Medium acidity. Flavours of soft fruits like pears and melons nicely dusted with baking spices. A very pretty wine. Perfect for brunch or picnics.
2008 Sumac Ridge Gewürztraminer, Okanagan Valley
Certainly the palest of the group. (See picture below.) It was clear pale gold with slow tears. Very approachable aromas of fruit salad, pinapple and pear. Off dry. Lowest in flavour intensity and length. Still a good wine. Approachable. A good stepping stone into the world of heady Gewürztraminers.
2008 Wunsch et Mann Gewürztraminer, Alsace
Wow. One of these things just doesn’t belong… Obviously not Okanagan Gew. Medium gold colour with slow tears. Great intensity on the nose. HONEY, toast, baking spices, yellow apples, candied pineapple and fresh apricots. Off dry. Low acidity. Full bodied. Lingering flavours of honey, toast and spice. This wine should come with a warning label “HEADY”. It requires planning and the perfect pairing to serve this beast. Delicious.
In conclusion, I was right. All of the Gewürztraminers were delicious, but they were not all the same, especially the Alsatian example. No two wine regions are the same despite one or many similar growing conditions. Each wine region should be celebrated for it’s own terroir and wine characteristics, not riding off the coattails of somewhere else.