Chez Feste (Zurich), 17 February, 11:45 PM
2003 Hugel & Fils Gewurtztraminer Vendage Tardive
Grabbed a bottle a little too quickly form the cellar, not realizing what a gem I'd taken from the treasure trove. Decided on something else with dinner, we kept this little beauty aside until we were all done packing for a trip to Paris. Sat down, poured a glass, and were transported away entirely. The vendage tardive is a late harvest, and this particular grape, from this particular winemaker in Alsace, is absolutely transcendant. Yes, it's powerfully sweet, but let it rest for an extra second on your palette and an amazing pageantry steps out from behind the honey and raisin flavors. The age becomes this complex tapestry with visions of the vines on their Rhine valley hillsides basking in the sun in the summer of their lives, and then shivering slightly in the cold of the autumn, passing through their entire life well into old age before they join their ancestors in the winery. Gewurtztraminer is not to be missed, and you would be well advised to find some room for it next to its better known riesling cousins. As a normal vendage it's fantastic with Asian foods in particular, but as a vendage tardive it is outstanding on its own as a dessert treat. It would also be lovely with a nice foie gras, or maybe a slightly sweet honey-lavender goat cheese tart.