Wine of the Week: Scouting for the tastiest white wines

Aldous Huxley once said: "There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception."

Categorically it's those "doors of perception" that make producing gew?rztraminer the most challenging, according to co-winemaker Randy Schock of Handley Cellars in Philo.

"It's tough to overcome the perception that gew?rztraminer is very sweet and that it is the wine of grandparents," Schock said. "The other challenging part is critics seeking a so called -#8216;bone-dry' wine. When this varietal is made bone-dry, the aromatics are diminished and bitter tannins from the skins can be evident."

Schock is behind our wine-of-the-week winner - the Handley Cellars, 2012 Anderson Valley Gewurztraminer at $18.

It's an exotic, complex gew?rztraminer with notes of honeydew melon, pineapple, honeysuckle and a hint of lemongrass. It has bright acidity, a crisp finish and it's a steal for the price.

"Our house style could be described as New World," Schock said. "We bottle all our Alsace varietals very quickly post-fermentation in late February... Our flavors are bolder at harvest and we do not want any malolactic fermentation to interfere with the clean fruit flavors. The result is a clean, fruit-driven wine with a crisp finish which can be paired with a wide variety of food or enjoyed on its own."

Gewurztraminer can transcend cultures and hopefully generations like no other, Schock said.

"If I were to plant a vineyard in China or India I would definitely include gew?rztraminer," he said. "In my opinion, the range of floral characters cannot be matched by any other varietal. No other varietal can express such intensity and flavors such as rose petals, gardenias, lychees, and other tropical fruits."

<em> Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at 707-521-5310 or peg.melnik@pressdemocrat.com.</em>

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