Alsace is a region in northeastern France most famous for producing Riesling wines, but there is plenty more to discover! To get you started, here are 10 things to know about the region and the wines of Alsace.
1.) First things first: Alsace is pronounced "al-zass" and Alsatian is pronounced "al-say-shen". ;)
2.) Alsace borders Germany and Switzerland, and this influence can be felt in everything about Alsace - from the dialects spoken, to the local cuisine, to the architecture. Throughout the centuries, Alsace has passed between German and French control multiple times with the last takeover occurring by the Germans during World War II. However, since 1945, it has been a part of France.
3.) Topographically, Alsace is located between the Vosges Mountains and the Rhine River. The Vosges Mountains shelter Alsace making it one of the driest regions in the entire country! Combined with plenty of sunshine, this cool-continental climate helps the grapes ripen slowly to create beautiful, complex flavours.
4.) The most common Alsatian grape varieties include 6 white grape varieties and 1 red grape variety: Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Gewurtztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir (red grape), Sylvaner, and Muscat.
5.) 90% of wines made in Alsace are made with white grapes.
6.) The Riesling produced in Alsace is typically made in a dry style as compared to sweet Riesling that North Americans are more familiar with.
7.) Unlike many other French wine regions, Alsace wine labels often list the grape variety that is included in the bottle along with listing the region. When you see a grape variety listed on the label, you can be sure that the wine is 100% comprised of that variety. If the grape is not listed, the wine is a blend of several varieties.
8.) Alsace makes a sparkling wine called Crémant d'Alsace which is made in the traditional method, the same method as in Champagne.
9.) Alsace wines are sold in the famous, slender green bottle known as the "Flute of Alsace."
10.) There are 3 designations to be aware of: Alsace AOC (most production being still white wines), Crémant d'Alsace AOC (sparkling wines), and Alsace Grand Cru AOC (made from special, specific vineyards in Alsace.)