Albert Mann Gewurztraminer 2006
The brothers Barthelmé, Maurice and Jacky, former basketball players, come from a family
that has been producing wine since 1654. Maurice married into the family of Domaine Albert
Mann in Alsace, gradually took over the vineyard's management, and now shares tasks with
his brother Jacky (in the winery), Maurice's wife Marie-Claire and Jacky's wife
Marie-Thérèse. The two couples are committed to sustainable agriculture, organic and
biodynamic where possible, certified when feasible, de facto when not. Alsace is an area
where many winemakers, family enterprises commonly, share these standards and goals.
Domaine Albert Mann produces a wide range of wines and product levels. I have previously reviewed the $25 Albert Mann, Pinot Gris “Cuvee Albert” 2005 as well as the $13 2006 Alsace Pinot Blanc. This 2006 Gewurztraminer is a member of Albert Mann's “Traditions” product line, accessible offerings, sealed with Stelvin screw-caps, designed for early drinking. The line's distinctive label features intertwining vines and twin T-squares that represent the combined efforts and traditions of the two wine families. Standards are high of course (in a winery that produces a number of Grands Crus); these wines represent the full range of Alsace soils and its white varietals: Gewurztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Muscat and Pinot Gris.
Gewurztraminer is not native to Alsace (its genealogy justifies a full-length thesis of its own), but it might as well be, since the region produces what many consider the definitive examples of these superbly aromatic wines. The Alsatians make Gewurztraminer slightly easier to spell by dropping the Germanic umlaut over the “u,” though perhaps this is more of a gesture of respect for the effort and sacrifice that has been necessary to keep Alsace French. These Gewurztraminers tend to be meatier and more savory that the hyper-fragrant offerings from other regions.
This 2006 Albert Mann 100% Gewurztraminer, Appellation Alsace Contrôlée, is $19,
produced with manually harvested grapes from 22 year old vines. The wine is a clear pale
straw with golden tinges. The nose is quite pronounced, leading with dried smoked meat
(almost a beef jerky) and a waxy minerality, with rose essence, cinnamon, baked apple, citrus
rind, white peach, and a touch of clove. On tasting the wine is off-dry with some alcoholic
warmth. The minerality pushes aside the nose's meatiness, allowing some solid fruit to
speak: white peach, banana, ripe papaya, a plate of stewed pears. The wine has plenty of
body, with excellent mouth-engagement and something of an alcoholic kick (the listed abv is
13%). The finish is of medium length, very clean, with a satisfying bitter tinge.
Verdict: Not a shy wine
So many winemakers in Alsace are both family-owned and organic.
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman