The vignoble d’Alsace is a French wine region. It covers the whole of Alsace between Strasbourg (in the department of Bas-Rhin), north and Mulhouse (Haut-Rhin), to the south. The production area is 15,600 hectares spread over 119 municipalities.Along a hundred kilometers, and virtually seamless, the vineyard has a width ranging from 1.5 to 3 km.
The wines are mostly white (in the Alsace and Alsace grand cru appellations), sparkling (name Crémant d’Alsace), and some pink and red (Alsace appellation). At present, the Alsace vineyard can produce 637 different wines AOC-PDO (all names, appellations and colors combined).
The vineyard also produces a spirit well-known: the marc d’Alsace.
The production area is the edge of the plain of the Rhine, with a north-south orientation.
The vines grow, on one hand, on the eastern foothills of the Vosges, between about 170 meters above sea level (the lowest point in the plains of central Alsace, around Dambach-la-Ville) and the upper limit of the Alsace wine culture which rises to 467 meters above sea level, Rangareddy (southern Alsace), and 478 meters Osenbach, and secondly, in the small valleys that cut into it.
The most popular wines are quite often the area north-west of Colmar. The entire production area is covered, over a length of 170 km, by the Alsace Wine Route.
The German influence, over the centuries, resulting in the creation of a very different wine from other French wine regions. It is still remarkable for the grapes used and the production methods.
The main varieties are also grown in Germany: Riesling B, Sylvaner and Gewurztraminer Rs B. Pinot Gris G (formerly known under the name “Tokay d’Alsace”, but this name is no longer allowed) white muscat B, Pink Muscat Rs, ottonel muscat B is also used, and B pinot blanc (or Klevner, not to be confused with the klevener of Heiligenstein Rs). Pinot Noir N is the only red or pink variety of the region. It is the basis of the names Pinot Noir, Red Ottrott, red Stephansberg etc..
The edelzwicker, and the gentil, are a blend of several varieties.
Crémant d’Alsace is a sparkling white wine made from Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris, fermented since the nineteenth century by the champagne method. Are also used Auxerrois B, Chardonnay B (which is only produced in the production of sparkling wine), Riesling and Pinot Noir B N (production of blanc de noir).
Riesling B (3382 hectares in 2009) is the most characteristic grape of Alsace. Unlike the German variety, it can give frankly dry wines that age well, such as semi-dry (moelleux) late harvest.
Pinot Blanc and Auxerrois B (3331 acres set in 2009), also known as Klevner, provide fresh and dry white wines. Much of the production is destined for the production of sparkling wine marketed under the name Crémant d’Alsace.
Gewurztraminer Rs (2928 hectares in 2009) has a increasign production. It has a very strong character and can, in good years, giving ample and generous wines.
Pinot Gris G (2356 hectares in 2009), formerly known as Tokay d’Alsace, is less abundant. The link with the Hungarian Tokay variety is quite difficult to establish and the name is no longer officially used to avoid confusion.
Pinot Noir N (1521 hectares in 2009) is the only red grape of Alsace, used to make rosé and red wines more or less colored.
Sylvaner B (1335 hectares in 2009) abounds in the less prestigious areas of the region. It provides fresh and simple wines.
Muscats (358 hectares in 2009), that is to say, white muscat small grains B, pink muscat small grains Rs, Muscat Ottonel B, produce a wine with very characteristic fruity but dry qualities, unlike southern wine Muscat.
Chardonnay B (141 hectares), Chasselas B (97 hectares in 2009) and savagnin Rs (43 hectares in 2009), the latter being a cousin of Gewurztraminer locally called klevener de Heiligenstein, became confidential.
The performance limit of the appellation Alsace was one hundred hectoliters per hectare in 1945, all varieties combined.
The performance that is actually practiced in 2009 averaged 74.9 hectoliters per hectare for all three Alsatian names. These yields are higher than those in other French vineyards, where the average for all AOC is about 50 hectoliters per hectare in 2009.
In general, the wine is made in white, using traditional methods. The wines are aged between six and twelve months in large oak barrels.
The color of wort requires maceration of grape juice and skin, in fact, Pinot Noir is a red grape with white juice. Only the skin contains anthocyanins coloring.
AOC Alsace: The appellation covers in 2009 11,703 hectares (75.2% of the vineyard) on which were produced 868,334 hectoliters of wine (74.4% of the production of the entire vineyard). AOC Alsace usually mentions the name of the variety or that of edelzwicker as “varietal name” according to the INAO. The label may also mention a locality.
The variety of different denominations are:
Chasselas or Chasselas Alsace or Gutedel (made with white or pink Chasselas B RSN 3);
or Gewurztraminer Gewurztraminer from Alsace (made with Gewurztraminer Rs);
Muscat (made with white Muscat à petits grains B, pink muscat à petits grains Rs, or muscat ottonel B);
the klevener Heiligenstein (made with rose Rs savagnin called in the region klevener Heiligenstein Rs);
the Pinot Gris (made with Pinot Gris G);
pinot-noir (made with Pinot N);
Pinot or Klevner (made with Auxerre B, white pinot true B, N Pinot Noir vinified as white or gray pinot G);
Riesling (made with Riesling B);
Sylvaner (made with Sylvaner B).
In the case of gewurztraminer, muscat, pinot gris and Riesling, there are entries for the sweet or sweet wines: the “late harvest” and “Selection de Grains Nobles”.
In 2009, Alsace Grand Cru appellation covers 850 hectares (5.4% of the vineyard surface) on which were produced 48,294 hectoliters of wine (4.1% of the production of the entire vineyard).
AOC Alsace Grand Cru was founded in 1975 but the first 25 vintages have been defined in 1983, followed by another 25 in 1992 and the last in 2007. There are 51 localities delimited eligible each a big name vintage, names that have become designations in 2011.
Only six varieties are authorized to originate in the Alsace AOC Grand Cru: Riesling B, Rs Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Muscat G (white muscat small grains B, pink muscat small grains Rs and muscat ottonel B) .
However, the Decree of 21 March 2005 authorizing the use of the Sylvaner grape B in the grand cru Zotzenberg. B Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir and Chasselas B N are also allowed in blended wines of AOC Alsace Grand Cru Altenberg de Bergheim. Decree of 12 January 2007 also allows blended wines in Alsace grand cru Kaefferkopf.
Since 1984, the wines of AOC Alsace and Alsace grand cru can be declared and presented with one of the entries: late harvest or selection de grains nobles if they meet strict conditions (handpicking, sugar content minimum, only wines from the Gewurztraminer grape, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Muscat).
Late harvest (Vendanges Tardives or Spätlese in German) indicates that the harvest was done at the optimal ripening of the grapes (not necessarily later than normal harvest). The name applies to the main varieties, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Muscat: these are then semi-dry wines.
The indication sélection de grains nobles applies to wines made from grapes affected by noble rot. These products are from the warmest years: they are sweet and heady wine that can age for a long time.
The labels of Alsace wines are simpler than other French labels. They show the variety and the owner’s name and often the name of the vineyard and the village, especially in the case of a great vintage.