Firestone Vineyard2005 Gewurztraminer
(Santa Ynez Valley)
After long time winemaker Allison Doran Green departed Firestone Vineyard quite a few years back, the winery fumbled around with a couple different winemakers who were not a good fit. One of the oldest vineyard estates (established in 1972 by Firestone Tire and Rubber heir Brooks Firestone) in the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County, the winery had also morphed into one of the largest. When winemaker Kevin Willenborg came down from Cedar Creek Winery in British Columbia to join the Firestone team, he proved to be a worthy successor, now eclipsing Ms. Green’s considerable accomplishments.
Firestone has been harvesting Gewurztraminer since 1977, so they are drawing on older vineyards and have a track record with the varietal. I thought Mr. Willenborg knocked it out of the park with last year’s version, with just the right balance of acidity and off dry sweetness that allowed the true character of the varietal to show through. But the 2005 is even better and has to rank among the best in California, along side my perennial favorites Lazy Creek, Thomas Fogarty and Navarro. This Firestone Gewurz just bursts with bright fruit flavors of pear, quince, grapefruit and orange blossom; if that’s not enough, nectarine and peach skin along with nutmeg and brown baking spices also make an appearance, all integrated into one big beautiful package.
Reviewed September 19, 2006 by Dennis Schaefer.
Dennis Schaefer has been tasting and writing about wine for over 30 years, propelled by a continuing curiosity and burgeoning enthusiasm for discovering what’s in the bottle. Blessed with catholic tastes, he enjoys everything from the obvious to the sublime. A major requirement is that the vineyard, winery and winemaker consistently perform well and fulfill their potential. Balance, concentration and complexity are key to the tasting experience but, in the end, the purpose of wine is simply to give pleasure.