Every year, Alsace confirms its leader's position in the production of white wines. Its 150 million bottles prove this is not a haphazard claim.
The vineyards stretch from the north to the south, from Strasbourg to Mulhouse on 120 km, forming a narrow band of often abrupt slopes between Rhine and Vosges. During summer months and in autumn, the masses of dry air are contained by the Vosgien Massif. Result: grapes ripen better than everywhere else. The wines inherit an explosive, fruity character. Even an amateur oenophile can easily differentiate easily the Alsatian vineyards from other wines.
To understand the definitive impact of the terroir on the grapes and the wine, it is important to realize the importance of riesling varietal. The most prestigious Alsatian grape variety has an amazing capacity to pick up the taste of the mineral elements of the volcanic soil, limestone, marl, loam, sandstone, schist or granite which compose the vineyard. Sensory experience is then unforgettable for the one who tastes a riesling.
The list of other Alsatian grape varieties is long. Starting with Gewurztraminer, seasoned, complicated, in the exuberant perfume of rose and lichee. Then muscatels come, pinot grey, pinot white, pinot black, to sylvaner, auxerrois, klevener.
Alsatian wines rage from the driest wine to the most sweet. Late grape harvests and rare selections of noble grains appear among the best liqueur-like wines of the world, like Sauternes or German Moselle ice wines.
The 51 best Alsatian terroirs were classified into grand crus. Only the Burgundy region can compete with such a mosaic of styles. Certain great vintages have a constitution of fire and express a big potency in mouth (Kirchberg, in Barr; Brand in Turckheim; Rangen, in Thann). Other grand crus express a big delicacy such Wiebelsbeg, in Andlau the Altenberg de Bergbieten, in Dahlenheim or Zotzenberg in Mittelbergheim.
The most sought-after grand crus by amateurs carry the names of Clos des Capuchins (in Kaysersberg), Clos Sainte-Hune (in Hunawihr) and Clos Saint-Urban (in Thann).
Alsace of the Alsatian wines, these are also splendid villages with houses coloured in half-timberings. They punctuate the Route des Vins, created near 60 years ago. It is the most ancient wine road in France. Riquewihr, Ribeauvillé, Colmar, Andlau or Eguisheim are some of the most unforgettable stages on the journey.