Author: Kristian Kielmayer, Ágnes Herczeg

Tramini

Tramini

History

It is an ancient, probably Western European variety, which is shrouded in many myths and legends. Some sources say the variety’s origin can be linked to Egypt, others to the town of Tramin in Alto Adige. There are many mutations, often distinguished according to berry colour, such as Roter (red), Gelber (yellow) and Gewürz (spicy). Gewürztraminer is a mutation of Roter Traminer, which is less aromatic, and this is probably the most widespread of the varieties in Hungary. However, the ‘spicy’ prefix is missing from the national variety catalogue. There is only one hectare of Roter Traminer registered in Hungary.

Viticultural characteristics

It has small, round leaves with blunt lobes as well as small, dense, round clusters. Its thick-skinned berries have a characteristic reddish-blue tinge. It is characterised by early budburst and ripening.

Where it's grown

Top-quality dry, sweet and vineyard selected wines are produced from the variety in Alsace, France. Although it is an extremely aromatic variety, it is also adept at reflecting terroir. It is a real sugar pump and is characterised by high alcohol, a full body, often significant natural sweetness and pronounced aromatics yet somewhat soft acidity. It prefers the warmer south in Germany, so is most common in Baden and the Pfalz. In Austria, it is often found on the volcanic soils of Styria, for example in Klöch, where it boasts pronounced rose petal and spicy notes, and is often produced in a style with some residual sugar.

There are 745 hectares of Traminer recorded in Hungary. It is found in the greatest proportions in the Pannonhalma and Neszmély wine districts, while there are also nearly 300 hectares planted in the Mátra wine district. Small amounts are found in almost all wine districts. It thrives on volcanic soils and in cooler regions, where it can retain high acidity and freshness as well as reflect the unique style of its terroir in a similar way to Alsace. When grown in regions where it can retain higher acidity, it usually yields better balanced wines.

What its wine tastes like

The variety generally produces wines with high alcohol and low acidity. It is an aromatic variety which produces extremely expressive, perfumed wines with floral, rose, tropical and spicy notes. Some residual sugar suits the variety, which can produce wines with a wide range of sweetness levels. Its pinkish skin gives a darker hue to the wines. Despite its oily texture and aromatic character, it is an adept reflect of terroir.

Tramini grape bunch and leaf

Wine & food pairing

Oily, densely textured, aromatic Traminer wines are particularly warming and can be appreciated all year round. Its acidity is somewhat restrained, yet it can make very pleasant, enticing sweet wines too. It boasts rich floral aromas, intense notes of rose and lush spiciness, so it can be happily paired with fragrant, perfumed spicy Indian and Asian dishes. One deliciously appealing combo is with orange or Sichuan duck. As a sweet wine, it’s perfect with rice pudding, fruit gateaux, raspberry and strawberry desserts and cream pots. Its perfume means it’s best drunk when youthful, preferably from the last few vintages, although it can age in bottle. However, it generally shows best when young. Always store in a cool place, away from sunlight and heat, to best preserve its fragile aromas. Serve straight from the fridge at about 8-10°C in a tulip-shaped white wine glass.

Ingredients that best match the flavour and texture of wines made from Traminer include  red berry fruit, fennel, citrus fruit, young light cheeses, washed-rind hard cheeses and blue cheeses (depending on the Traminer style), poultry, waterfowl, fish and pork dishes. Cabbage soup with juniper and apple, carrot and ginger soufflé or carrot cake would also make perfect pairings, depending on the level of residual sugar, of course.

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