I love the flower and spice character of a good Gewürztraminer, and the best California examples I’ve tasted have all come from the cool Anderson Valley in Mendocino County. This refreshing yet exotic 2010 Breggo Gewürztraminer, made from Ferrington Vineyard grapes, is perfect sipping for the last gasp of August.
Think aromas of lemongrass, lychee, rose petals and tangerine peel, and light, crisp, spiced-apple and pear flavors, with a hint of cloves. A mouthwatering, elegant white with a subtle hint of sweetness, it was the ideal choice for thin pork chops sautéed with fresh Granny Smith apple slices in a spicy soy sauce marinade.
Breggo Cellars, founded by winemaker Doug Stewart on a 203-acre property north of Boonville, opened its doors back in 2005 and quickly became known for its delicious, vineyard-designated pinot noirs, all made from contracted grapes. Breggo, which means sheep in Boontling, Boonville’s private folk language invented in the late 19th century, seems an appropriate name for this former sheep ranch.
Napa Valley vintner Cliff Lede (owner of Cliff Lede Vineyards in the Stag’s Leap District) bought Breggo almost two years ago, and Ryan Hodgins, an Oregonian who’d been consulting, became the full-time winemaker. A white wine lover, he has a fine touch with Gewürztraminer.
The 15-mile long Anderson Valley is one of California’s coolest wine spots. Ocean fog rolls in from the Pacific and lingers on the region’s vineyards, which is why it’s ideal for Alsace varietals like Gewürztraminer. The long, cool growing season preserves the grapes’ aromas and natural acidity, which translates into liveliness in the wine.
First planted here in the mid-1960s, Gewürz (its nickname) has never been a big seller, though the wines have a small enthusiastic following. Compared with popular — and pricier — pinot noir, they’ve been a bit under the radar, like the region’s other whites.
But they definitely shouldn’t be. Breggo Cellars Gewürztraminer is one of the reasons why. And 2010 was a terrific vintage.
Zester Daily contributor Elin McCoy is a wine and spirits columnist and author of “The Emperor of Wine: The Rise of Robert M. Parker, Jr. and the Reign of American Taste.”