Wine Varieties

Gewurztraminer Wine

Gewurztraminer, often shortened to Traminer in Australia, is a green grape varietal used to make white wine. Gewurztraminer is a grape varietal best s…

Gewurztraminer, often shortened to Traminer in Australia, is a green grape varietal used to make white wine. Gewurztraminer is a grape varietal best suited to cool climates such as those in Jura in the north of France as well as Lombardy and Friuli in the north of Italy.

Unlike much of the knowledge surrounding the grape, Traminer translation is straightforward, it means ‘from Tramin.’ The grape varietal comes from the Tramin region of South Tyrol in the north of Italy. Formerly part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, South Tyrol borders North Tyrol in Austria, hence the distinctly German sounding name of Gewurztraminer.

In Australia, cooler climate regions in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania are all well suited to growing Traminer.

Gewurztraminer, a pink-skinned grape, is a distinctly aromatic varietal and a mutation of the ancient green grape Traminer. Gewürz is the German word for ‘spice’ and Gewurztraminer grape does produce wine to suit this description.

There are many names for the Traminer grape varietal as well as the many mutations that have occurred over the centuries. This has lead to much confusion in identifying the various grapes in regions around the world. James Busby, the father of Australian wine, brought Savagnin du Jura vines to Australia in the 1830s. The vines in Jura are called Savagnin rather Traminer or Gewurztraminer but may be the same varietal with variance in grape colour owing as much to soil and climate conditions as the genes in the grape.

The confusion with Gewurztraminer or Traminer or Savagnin or even Traminer Aromatico wine, in Italian, is hard to resolve owing to the long and complicated history of the grape. For wine lovers, it is perhaps better to focus on the wine in the bottle rather the grape on the vine.

How to pronounce Gewurztraminer

The mouthful that is Gewurztraminer is a German-language name for the grape and the wine produced. It is pronounced Geh-vurts-tram-in-er. The shorthand for Gewurztraminer in Australia is Traminer and is pronounced Tram-in-er.

Characteristics of Gewurztraminer

Traminer is a fragrant wine. Aromas of rose petals, lychee and spice are up front. The more aromatic, pink grape varieties are known for their aromatic qualities. On the palate there will be orange, lychee and stone fruit heading towards pineapple with some extra ripening of the grapes.

Traminer

Gewurztraminer food pairing

Traminer has a bit more conviction than other cool-climate white wines such as Pinot Grigio. As such, it can stand up to more rich or complex foods while still retaining versatility. Spicy cuisines such as Chinese or Mexican or Indian will match Traminer very well with the sweetness of the wine balancing the zing of the spice. Mild sausages or a plain terrine will work well as will a fruit salad. With a bit of care and attention from the winemaker a Traminer will have guts to handle the intense earthiness of truffles

Traminer regions

The cold climate wine growing regions in Australia suit the growing of Traminer vines. The Macedon Ranges in Victoria has soil and climate conditions not unlike those of Jura in the northeast of France. The Delatite winery produces a great example of Victorian Gewurztraminer. The cool climates of New South Wales produce excellent Gewurztraminer and Huntington Estate in Mudgee and Capercaillie in the Hunter Valley produce examples of these. Across the Bass Strait, cool climate wines are en vogue with orchards being raised and grapes replacing apples. Popular Gewurztraminer from Spring Vale in southern Tasmania and Pipers Brook northern Tasmania are further examples of the winemaking that is reshaping the reputation of the island.

Traminer Regions

Jura

Jura in the east of France is on the border with Switzerland in the sub-Alpine Jura Mountains. The region is close to the historic region of Burgundy, famous for wines of the same name. Jura is a cold-climate region and is known for growing Traminer, known locally as Savagnin, as well as Chardonnay. Jura is perhaps most well known for a sweet, sherry-like wine called Vin Jaune or ‘yellow wine.’

The future Gewurztraminer

The complexities surrounding the Traminer grape varietal and its many other names makes it difficult to market when wine lover are looking for one and find another. The correct identification of Traminer, Gewurztraminer or Savagnin in Australia may mean more education of the public and relabeling for wines. However, the Australian market continues to develop tastes beyond big red wines and fun-loving white wines further opportunities may arise to look for complexity and balance in their wines.

As ever, the enterprise, innovation and pioneering spirit of Australian winemakers can achieve success with gutsy Gewurztraminer wines.