GEWURZTRAMINER. 1982 – AUSTIN CELLARS
by Paul Kalemkiarian Sr | October 1984
Anthony Austin was the first professional winemaker in Northern Santa Barbara county. He was the winemaker at Firestone Vineyards since its inception in 1975. (And you know what a success story that is. At least 3 of his wines have been club selections under that label.)
The time always comes in ones life, when you want to “do it for yourself! ” That time came for Tony in 1981. He formed a partnership, with a simple philosophy and goal of using the superior fruit from this viticultural area that he knows so well to produce the finest of premium wines. I tasted all his first releases at a trade event a few months back. Quickly, I realized that Tony had developed the valuable knowledge on the subtle nuances of this region’s grapes and microclimates.
Austin Cellars first wine releases were made from purchased grapes of selected vineyards. The fermentation and ageing was done in leased facilities. Like every new wine venture, an early priority becomes the construction of your own winery. This became a reality just 10 months ago. It is situated on a 100 acres in the hills near Los Alamos.
The winery has a tasting room in the charming town of Solvang nearby. (1516 Copenhagen Drive) If you are in the area, it will be worth your while pausing a moment, and tasting Tony’s other wines. You will be impressed. So were many county fair, wine society, and wine publication judges.
It is said that the Gewurztraminer grape is the most exotic of the great wine grapes. Bern C. Ramey says that the wines are “frontal attacks” on the senses.
Undoubtedly so. Most Gewurztraminers, whether from California, Alsace, Germany or Austria, are most always intensely fruity, spicy, aromatic, and vary in their degree of dryness from bone dry to distinctly sweet. The winemakers style dictates the latter. It is a variety that is easy to identify by its spicyness, with some overtones of muscat elements. In fact it is considered a possible descendent of the muscat from Persia, after many strain transformations! Hugh Johnson says it has a reputation for tasting better when the sun is up! “Jolly good, I say.” Most Gewurztraminers are ideal for that afternoon glass, well chilled, on the veranda. But, this one is great after sundown too! It really is a great dinner wine, with the right accompaniment and have I found a novel one. See below.
Our wine is light golden yellow in color. It has a spicy aroma, with a fragrant bouquet. It is intense in the varietal character of the grape (Very textbook! Make a mental note of this for future identification exercises.) The taste is remarkable. You expect it to be sweet, and it is dry. It is pretty much full bodied. It shows some oak, and has a pleasant clean acid finish. The spiciness is all over your mouth, yet so restrained that it is not overpowering. Serve chilled with (would you believe it!) a mexican chicken molle course! (chocolate – banana sauce) or with light curried lamb. Sip it too, if you enjoy a dry sipping wine.
Cellaring Notes: Will improve for 24 months.