When the heat turned up in Napa recently, my thoughts quickly turned to refreshing whites, and I came across the dry Ludwig Gewürztraminer Monterey County Single Vineyard Selection 2008. This wine was new to me, but I learned from owner-winemaker Eric Laumann that he named the winery after Ludwig von Beethoven and is specializing in northern European varieties such as Gewürztraminer and Riesling, as well as Albariño.
As the temperature topped 100° F, the 2008 Gewürztraminer hit the spot with its delightful floral aromas and rich, full-bodied mix of spicy hazelnut and litchi nut. The wine unfolded to offer touches of tangerine, nectarine, spicy apple juice and gingerbread. When it’s right, Gewürztraminer has that wonderful tension between acidity, ripe spicy fruit and a trace of bitterness. I rated it 89 points, non-blind, and it was priced at $16.
Laumann only made 400 cases of the wine, and he didn't include the name of the single vineyard on the peach-colored label because he has so far only purchased grapes from that site for one year. (Laumann is not yet sure from which vineyard the grapes for his 2009 bottling will come.) Keep an eye out for more unique bottlings from Ludwig: Laumann even has his eye on the red German grapes Dornfelder and Tannat, known for the robust reds from Madiran in southwest France, both of which are being grown in the Santa Lucia Highlands.