This place is home to many different kinds of grapes and wine. It’s the perfect spot to discover all aspects of French winemaking.
Let’s examine this distinctive area and its background.
Brief overview of the Alsace wine region
Alsace, a wine region in north-eastern France, is world-renowned for its high quality white wines. It sits between the Vosges Mountains to the west and Germany’s Pfalz region to the east, spanning around 60 miles along the Rhine River. For over 2,000 years, grapes have been grown here and winemaking has been a part of the region since Roman times.
This scenic area is recognized for its characteristic white wines made from Riesling and Gewurztraminer grapes. They are aromatic and full of flavor, making them excellent for pairing with food due to their crisp acidity. Alsace also produces sparkling and sweet wines, as well as red varietals like Pinot Noir. These sweet wines are made from botrytised grapes infected with noble rot that age in the bottle and give off a honeyed taste.
Alsace is a one-of-a-kind wine area, with influences from France, Germany, and Switzerland. This area has been a tug-of-war between France and Germany for ages! So, it’s no wonder it has an interesting past.
The types of grapes grown and the kinds of wine made here are remarkable. Let’s dive deeper into this unique region!
Origins of viticulture in Alsace
All the way back to the Roman Empire, viticulture in Alsace started. The Romans introduced grape-growing to the area in the 1st century. Alsace wines were a hit with the noble Roman class and served at imperial banquets with Italian and Greek wines.
People have known since ancient times Alsace was perfect for growing grapes. With the region’s sunshine and cool climate, it was a great place to make quality wines. People have experimented with different types of grapes, winemaking techniques and wine ageing processes over time. This has led to a great selection of Alsace wines that are very different from other French regions.
Despite its success throughout the years, Alsatian wine production has gone through some tough times. War and the French Revolution have taken their toll. But winemakers in Alsace kept going and now have 15 AOC (Appellation d’Origine Controlee) wines recognised by INAO (Institut National des Appellations d’Origine). More could be added soon.
Development of the region’s wine industry
Alsace’s wine industry has been a major part of its culture and character. It started from Roman times. Dukes brought Chardonnay grapes and ‘Noble Rot’ (botrytis cinerea) techniques to the region in 1222, leading to sweet white wine shipments to Europe from Colmar.
Montpellier became a winemaking center in 1336 and exports increased. WWII reduced the trade. After the war, local winemaking activity grew and Alsace is now a leading viticultural region, exporting worldwide. Its products include Rieslings, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Muscat Blanc, Chasselas, Pinot Noir, Auxerrois Baco Rouge and Klevner Pinot Blanc.
Grapes and Wine Styles
Popular grape varieties
It was once part of Roman Empire and spoke German, but is now French. Its vineyards produce some of the best white wines in the world, with crisp, full-bodied and mineral-like flavors.
Popular grape varieties include Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris/Grigio, Pinot Blanc and Auxerrois. These grapes make wines that range from off-dry to very dry. Some wines are fermented with native yeast, adding complexity.
Riesling makes bold, acidic wines with aromas like apricot and peach. It often needs to age for years before being served. Gewürztraminer wines have intense spicy aromas with lychee and rose. Pinot Gris/Grigio wines are light-bodied, with floral aromas like jasmine and citrus notes like lemonade or green apple skin. Pinot Blanc’s freshness is great for lighter dishes like charcuterie boards and trout dishes with crème fraîche. Auxerrois offers tastes of green apples or honeydew melons.
Characteristics of Alsace wines
Alsace, France is renowned for its white wines of elegance, balance, and vibrancy. These wines are light-bodied and low in alcohol. The grape varieties used to make them are Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc and Auxerrois.
Riesling has bright acidity, mineral notes, and aromatics. Depending on when it is picked, it can be dry or sweet – from off-dry to late harvest. It goes well with shellfish and seafood dishes, asparagus, artichokes, and creamy desserts such as crème brûlée or custards.
Pinot Gris has smoky tones and a fuller body. It is suitable for pork roast dishes and vegetables cooked in broth-based sauces. It is slightly bolder than Riesling and pairs with salmon dishes, creamy pastas, and savory tart starters such as quiche Lorraine.
Gewürztraminer is medium-bodied with tropical fruit notes. It is ideal for spicy cuisines like curries or stir fries with bamboo shoots and bell peppers. It can be served chilled or at room temperature and is perfect for sipping after dinner.
Pinot Blanc wines have a delicate apple blossom aroma and bright lemon zest flavors. Auxerrois wines contain intense ripe fruit flavors and mineral facets that go with saltier fish dishes, cream sauce main courses, and earthy terrine meals such as pâté de campagne spread on toast points before serving!
Visiting the Region
The region is renowned for its picturesque scenery and quaint villages. Amongst its vineyards and wineries lies a unique experience waiting to be explored. Its culture and wines are simply divine.
Let’s dive into the wondrous attractions that make this region so special!
Wine routes and tours
In Alsace, you can embark on a journey through numerous wine routes! Explore the picturesque vineyards nestled in valley and mountain views of the Vosges Mountains. Popular routes include The Wine Road of Kaysersberg Valley, The Wine Road of Alsace Plain, and The Wine Route of the Wine Queen.
For a more immersive experience, private wine tours can be arranged. These tours will provide insight into winemaking in the area, as well as visits to wineries. You’ll get a scenic drive through rolling hillsides covered in vineyards. During the tour, you’ll have the chance to sample white wines such as Riesling or Gewürztraminer, as well as Pinot Gris or Pinot Noir from a variety of winemakers. These full-day excursions offer wine enthusiasts a chance to take in all Alsace has to offer!
Wine festivals and events
Alsace is famed for its vibrant wine culture. Throughout the year, festivals and events pay tribute to the local wines and winemaking traditions. The wine route in Alsace is beautiful, with its vineyards. Plus, there are many wine festivals!
One of the most popular is Les Vendanges de Printemps (Spring Harvest Festival). It takes place in Kientzheim-Kaysersberg, to honor Riesling wines. It’s in late May and involves tastings, cultural activities, games, and discounted wine bottles from the winemakers’ tents.
The Fête des Vins d’Alsace (Festival of Alsatian Wines) takes place every two years in Colmar. It includes tastings, classes, masterclasses, and food pairings. Visitors can even battle it out in competitions such as blending their own wines or promising annual awards showcasing outstanding vintages.
Exploring Alsace Wine Region is an experience like no other. There’s something for all palates: from the dry Rieslings of Alsace Grand Cru to the vibrant Pinot Noirs. Plus, the region houses historic wineries and vineyards!
Time to make that trip and taste the yummy wines! Alsace Wine Region is one-of-a-kind, don’t miss out!