Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Alsace Wine Region

What a fascinating place with never ending beauty. Located nearly 500km east of Paris, sharing the boarders with Germany, Switzerland and in close proximity to Luxembourg and Belgium.
Here are some wine region facts of Alsace:
- one of the most important rain shadows in the world with the Vosges mountains to the West. Vineyards are planted at relatively high elevations, on the mountains slopes and valley floor taking in abundant sunshine, less than 400 mm of rain a year.
- Alsace is home to the most diverse collection of soils located in France. The narrow valley was formed by two major faults: the Vosges Fault in the west and the Rhine Fault in the east, resulting in a mixture of marl, limestone, calcareous sand, schist, granite and volcanic
- Semi continental climate at 47 - 49*N, spanning 170km from north to south
- 51 designated Grand Cru sites
- an area of innovation when it comes to biodynamic viticulture and winemaking
- the only region in France that labels their wines with the varietal name
- Major grapes grown: Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Sylvaner, Pinot Gris, Muscat, Pinot Noir
- Styles of wine: Cremant d'Alsace (traditional method sparkling), dry and off-dry still wines, late harvest called Vendage Tardive (VT) and botrytisized wines called Selection des Grains Nobles (SGN) 

I visited Strasbourg for a couple of nights then spent most of my time south, around Colmar. Colmar is very charming and is a good jumping point to the more prominent villages. You will need to rent a car so brush up on your manual transmission skills!!

When you visit Alsace, plan to drink AND eat! This is a region of culinary importance. There are more Michelin rated restaurants per capita then anywhere in the world.

The photos that I am posting are from the Grand Cru site Rangen. Why this one? I find this one interesting as it is the furthest south Grand Cru site, the only one with volcanic soils and the vines sit on a 60* slope. The varietals here are Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris. I made a special drive from Colmar, just to find this vineyard located between the towns of Vieux-Thann and Thann.

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