Alsace: French Wine Region

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007 at 12:00 am

One of the wine regions that the French proudly highlight is wine from Alsace. This particular French wine has a long-standing history. Alsatian wine is typically characterized by their white wine which is found to have Germanic influence. It has the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlées Alsace AOC, Alsace Grand Cru AOC and Crémant d’Alsace AOC. Alsace, along with Germany and Austria, is one of the most noted producers of dry Rieslings in the whole world. Because this type of wine has Germanic influences, it is the sole region in France which has the capability to produce varietal wines which are taken commonly from similar grapes that are also used in German wine.

The wine style of Alsatian wine is that all of it is white with the exception of Pinot Noir grape which is typically pale red or rose-colored. They are mostly dry although there are some of them which are quite off dry and even though they are like these, they are not labeled that way in order to avoid confusion among the different buyers. There are two delayed harvest styles. The first is vendange tardive and Selection de Grans Nobles (SGN). There are also sparkling wines which are made by the region in the form of Crémant d’Alsace.

There are those fine wine aficionados who essentially know how to identify Alsace wines. Three AOCs which are attributed by the INAO or the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine affirm that these particular wines all come from a geographically-defined territory of production. What’s more is that it is more than just a label. Because it has these AOCs, it is officially guaranteed to be authentic. This particular status maintains that the bottling of all Alsace wines in the region should be done by the local region where it is produced.

The label "AOC Alsace" is more commonly shown as the brand name Edelzwicker or Gentil for a combination of several white wine varietals. There are also some geographical identifications which might be the name of the village or the vineyard.

The "AOC Alsace Grand Cru" is the designation that is only attributed to wines which are able to meet a particular standard of quality. It shows rigid vineyard delimitation, yields which are lower than average, explicit vineyard cultivation rules, minimum natural ripeness level and a blind tasting test even before the sale. The label must always show the grape name, the vintage and finally one of the names of the 50 vineyards which are characterized to Grand Cru merit. Only a limited number of Alsace grapes are allowed. They are Riesling, Muscat, Tokay Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer. What AOC Alsace Grand Cru does is it selects a certain vineyard site and then endows the wine there with its own distinct character, authenticity as well as expression.

Finally, AOC Crémant d’Alsace is the designation that is given to those wines which are essentially made through the use of traditional bottle-fermentation. This is the type of wine designation that is characterized as delicate and lively. Crémant d’Alsace is recognized as one of foremost leaders in sparkling wines on the French local market.