“Worth the Wait.” Review: Optima Gewürztraminer 2016

Last year, Sonoma County legend Mike Duffy released his first ever Gewürztraminer. I heard a lot of stories about how that came to be, who asked him to make it, why he finally pulled the trigger on the varietal, and so forth, but when Sonja and I met with Mike a few months ago at his Optima Winery in Healdsburg, we realized pretty quickly that Mike does what Mike thinks is right, and that Mike made a killer Gewurz, well, because he felt like it.

Fortunately for me, one of the local wine merchants of Omaha is as big a fan of Mike’s wines as I am, and he acquired several of the thirty cases of the 2015 Gewürztraminer that Mike made. I bought a bottle and it blew my mind. I shared the precious nectar with friends, and ever since the last drop was consumed, I have been waiting in eager anticipation for the release of the 2016 vintage. That happened recently, and it was certainly worth the wait.

Yesterday, I did a tasting for the owner of a local wine bar where I’m doing some work, and I opened 2016 Optima Gewürztraminer for the first time. We tasted it, and I was immediately reminded of all that I loved about the 2015 vintage. An incredible floral nose of stone fruits, spices and powdered sugar segues to a body that is nearly clear in color, with something like a delicate creamy texture. A complex array of flavors, due partly to the varietal and partly to the craftsmanship of Mike Duffy, greeted our palates. Spices, minerals, and herbaceous qualities abound upon the palate, followed by gentle notes of lime and other citrus, cloves, and white fruits. Clean upon the palate yet with a lingering finish, I was so excited about the wine that I called up a few more friends to swing by and taste it, which they did, and they loved it as well.

Tonight, I paired the last of the bottle with a pasta dish I made, complete with truffles, crisp garden vegetables, and seasoned beef. It worked, but honestly, I think this wine would work with a pretty diverse array of pairings. After dinner, it was a nice compliment to some leftover goat’s milk gouda I had lying around and some conversation with Sonja about our days.  It’s one of those rare finds: an uncommon varietal for the region, an uncommonly talented winemaker, and a very reasonable price at around $30 a bottle. I can’t recommend this wine enough (but I’m sure as hell going to try).




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