Updated: Aug 30, 2021
Absolutely some of my favorite wines produced in the world come from Alsace, on the French German border. The region lies between the Vosges Mountains and the Rhine River. The Vosges Range creates a rain shield allowing the region to remain relatively dry, and resulting in a long dry growing season. The Rhine River moderates the climate in this relatively northern area of France. The border has been historically blurred by the French and German perspectives resulting in a uniquely Alsatian identity to the region. German and French food, culture, architecture, language, and winemaking styles. Grapes like Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris generally crafted in a dry style, and often varietally labelled. The wines are aromatic, and site selection is a blend of French artistry, and German engineering. In addition to these dry still wines, which I love to use as curriculum wines because of their varietal labels and their expression of characteristic grape flavors and aromas, Alsace produces great sparklers, and some blends. Cremant d'Alsace is produced in the Champagne Method, and are really exciting sparkling wines, blended still wines of these grapes are considered "Edelzwicker" or noble blends.
Many people would read the grape varietals listed above and think that these wines might be sweeter style whites. Especially in Alsace, the long growing season allows for great hangtime on the vine, and sugar ripeness, but usually the wines are fermented to dry. What makes the wines so fun for me is that they are dry, and they are almost never oak aged, so the full expression of aromatics, acidity, and flavor are present. 95% of the wine produced in Alsace is white, but if you look you can find Pinot Noir, often called Spӓtburgunder. In Alsace, Pinot Noir is rare, and therefore rather expensive in the states, but deliciously unique and peppery, I highly recommend looking for it.
As one might expect, the food and wine pairing opportunities from Alsace are amazing. Chicken or duck confit, foie gras, saison sec, and other sausages. Cheeses, stone ground mustard, pickles, mushrooms, and truffle. The wines are so aromatic that they become a complimentary element of the food. I have several Alsatian food and wine paired menus, and would be happy to offer suggestions to subscribers with questions.
I am going to France in June 2022, a cruise of the Loire River, a short tour of Paris, an extended weekend in Champagne, and a meandering week in Alsace. I am excited to collect photos, and video from this picturesque location and look forward to sharing it here.