Gewurztraminer, the highly aromatic variety found in Alsace, Germany, northern Italy and beyond, deserves far more attention that it gets. When you hit the right example, almost nothing beats it in terms of interest and complexity. It can also be a problem solver – for example, when four people order very different appetizers, as we did not long ago at The Chanticleer, the venerable restaurant on Nantucket. That’s because gewürztraminer is one of the ultimate food wines, able to match well with any number of dishes, especially highly seasoned and spicy foods. And so, when the four of us ordered everything from tuna tartare to various salads, I was pleased to see a gewürztraminer or two on the list and chose Domaines Schlumberger’s 2004 “Fleur” Gewurztraminer from France’s Alsace.
Now this is one of Schlumberger’s basic offerings, a wine that retails for about $22 or so (I think we paid about double that in the restaurant), and I knew from the start that it would not be the profound wine that I might expect with a grand cru offering. But I appreciated the fact that the wine had a few years or so of bottle age, and I tip my hat to the restaurant both for including the variety and offering a wine that has benefited from some time. That benefit was clear in the lovely fruit, which included ripe pear, peach and dried apricot. But that was only half the story. The fruit was accompanied by the floral and herbal notes that are gewürztraminer's signature and, at this point in the wine’s life, they were in just the right proportion, accenting instead of dominating, which can be the case with very young gewürztraminer. The match was splendid with my tuna tartare and its piquant chili mayo sauce. One cautionary note: we should have stuck with gewürz for our main courses; after the powerful tastes of the Schlumberger, a white Burgundy (a Montlouis) was just too delicate.