If you like finding and drinking distinctive, idiosyncratic wines, this week’s pick for Wine of the Week is worth seeking out.
In the grand scheme of Long Island wine, gewuztraminer is a bit player. Only a handful of wineries make it and even fewer consistently make examples that stand out. Raphael winemaker Anthony Nappa makes that short list with Spezia, which means “spice” in Italian.
Anthony Nappa Wines 2013 Spezia ($25) probably isn’t what you’re expecting if you drink much gewürztraminer, though. Made with fruit grown by Joe Reilly of Reilly Cellars in Cutchogue, it was made with ambient yeasts (meaning it wasn’t inoculated with a specific strain of yeast) and 40 percent of it was fermented on its skins – as in red wine making – and 60 percent was fermented whole cluster for a week. The result is as unique and singular as any white wine on the North Fork.
The nose is intensely concentrated. Mango and dried apricot aromas are joined by Earl Grey tea and exotic, Indian-leaning spice. Broad and richly textured, it is bone dry but it almost drinks like a dry dessert wine. With penetrating flavors of spice, dried fruit – figs and apricots – and fresher notes of pear and mango, there is serious complexity here. Over the course of an evening, those core flavors are joined by floral notes at times, but also saline and savory ones.
That skin contact during fermentation brings noticeable tannin to the party, which provides a gentle grip of structure. The finish is long and savory-spicy.
I’d not drink this one with the expected gewürztraminer pairings. I don’t think spicy Thai food is the way to go here. Instead, try it with a platter covered with myriad cheeses, cured meats, nuts and fresh and dried fruit. I’ll bet it will sing.
It’s available at The Winemaker Studio in Peconic for $25.