Wines of Alsace - the cream of the crop

Just behind the German border, from Strasbourg in the north down to Thann in the south, lies Alsace. Here, where wine growing was already practised in pre-Roman times, monastic orders created a centre of viticulture that was unparalleled in Europe until the 16th century. Even then, the winegrowers in Alsace recognised that the key to the success of an entire region lays in binding rules for all winegrowers, as laid down centuries later by the "Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée" (A.O.C.).

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Quality standards - the key to the first golden wine age in Alsace

This key moment in Alsace viticulture is mentioned the first time in the specifications of a winegrowing association in Riquewihr, which set a specific harvest date and determined which varieties are to be planted. At the height of Alsace viticulture, an area was cultivated that was twice as large as today's vineyards in Alsace.

Alsatian Disasters - Thirty Years War and Phylloxera

Wine-growing in Alsace came to a sudden end, when the horrors of the Thirty Years' War swept over the vineyards from Strasbourg to Colmar and had devastating consequences for both the winegrowers and their vines. By the middle of the 19th century, wine-growing in Alsace had recovered so that 30,000 hectares had been planted at a new peak. But from 1863 phylloxera started its extermination campaign originating from Languedoc, arrived in Burgundy in the 1880s and finally reached Alsace in 1903.

Today, about 15,000 hectares of vineyards are still cultivated in Alsace, which is reflected in about 150 million bottles of Alsatian wine.

Grape varieties in Alsace

White grape varieties are cultivated for the most part, but also Pinot Noir. In descending order of vineyard area these are

  • Riesling
  • Pinot Blanc
  • Gewurztraminer (yes, without umlaut)
  • Pinot Gris
  • Sylvaner (yes, with "y")
  • Muscat d'Alsace

They all grow on a variety of soils, since the terroir of Alsace is very complex, with bedrock such as granite and gneiss, as well as limestone, marl and sandstone. The soil conditions in Alsace guarantee excellent wines, especially Grands Crus.

Grand sites - Grand Cru d'Alsace

Alsace can boast a total of 51 Grand Cru sites, which together cover 1,680 hectares. All began in 1975 with the Schlossberg site in Kientzheim. In 1983, sonorous sites such as Altenberg, Hatschbourg, Kitterlé or Eichberg followed. In 1992, another 25 Grand Crus were added, including Mandelberg, Schoenenberg and Muenchberg.

Edelzwicker - the special cuvée

The white wine vines of Alsace can be wonderfully combined in cuvées, which are then marketed under the name Edelzwicker. Gentil d'Alsace is also a popular title for cuvées.

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