Exploring the wines of Alsace

Despite being one of the smallest wine regions in France, Alsace produces some of the highest quality wines, renowned all over the world for their delicacy, refreshing nature, and ability to present complex aromatic notes unique to their terroir.

The Vosges mountains play a very important role in the region’s climate: the mountains help by providing shelter from westerly winds and rain, resulting in a climate that has sunny summers and dry autumns - ideal conditions for wine growing. It is also a very dry region, which helps for the grapes to develop their delicate notes. In addition to the climate, Alsace is very famous for the geological complexity and wide variety of soil types, which results in extra care being taken in allocating the right grape for the right plot of land. This unique land makes it the perfect environment for organic and biodynamic wines that are enhanced by the near disease-free and nutrient-rich soil.

It is not just geology that plays into making Alsace a standout wine region: Alsace has been played like a tennis ball between France and Germany for over a century, and every time it has moved to a different side it picks up some of the traditions and customs, eventually integrating them into their own blend. This can be seen from the shapes of Alsatian wine bottles (traditional flute style) to the grape varieties used (gewurztraminer and riesling).

Another aspect of Alsace that makes their wines a sommelier’s dream is their love of gastronomy. Alsace is a food mecca, where sitting at the table and enjoying good grub is at the heart of the culture. For this reason, their wine has been adapted over the years to go with their cuisine and works amazingly with both rustic home cooking and delicate fine dining. The style of the wines vary from dry to sweet, with an abundance of fruit, floral and spice flavours, meaning that even with the most complicated of dishes can find their wine in Alsace.

Overall, from soil to vine to bottle to glass, Alsace is incomparable to any other wine region, and its wines have allowed it to become the haven for aromatic food-friendly wines.

Here are some tasting notes for some of Alsace’s fine wines which we presented at our recent “Exploring Alsace” Pairing Event. Follow us on Facebook or sign up to our newsletter to get the latest updates about our events.

Dopff Au Moulin, Crémant D’Alsace, Cuvée Julien Brut

A wine that puts a sparkle into anybody’s day! Made from the delicate pinot blanc and pinot auxerrois, this crémant is soft on the palate with stone fruit notes and a yeasty quality that makes it a fantastic fizzy treat for shellfish or a ripe Brie de Meaux.

Riesling Reserve 2015, Hunawihr

This wine has a complex nose full of pear, citrus and white florals, moving to a lively palate with plenty of racy acidity and lime citrus flavours. This wine lingers on the palate and does well when paired with cooked pork or gammon. Also a fantastic wine for salty dishes.

Pinot Gris Reserve 2015, Hunawhir

This pinot gris presents aromas of juicy green apples and pears, with a floral sweetness. On the palate, the wine is off-dry but is well balanced due to the right amount of acidity, and presents a lovely smokey touch as it persists. This is the perfect wine for a Mozzarella, with the acidity and sweetness enhancing the intense creamy nature of the Italian classic.

Gewürztraminer Estate 2012, Hugel et Fils

This gewurztraminer opens full of tropical flavours, from passion fruit to mango, with a floral and pistachio hint at the end. On the palate, this off-dry wine is soft, opulent, and generous in displaying the amazing characteristics of aromatic wines. This wine is fantastic for full flavoured food such as strong French goat’s cheese.

Dopff Au Moulin 2013, Gewurztraminer Brand de Turckheim Grand Cru

This grand cru represents its region impeccably. A honeyed nose with fresh roses and sweet spices, leading to a full-bodied sweet wine intensified by the delicious complexity of the flavours. This wine is the ideal accompaniment to spicy dishes or charcuterie, with its sweetness and aromatics complementing and softening the strength of the chilli.

Pinot Noir 2012, Hugel et Fils

This pinot noir is a textbook example of how fantastic Alsatian red wine can be. Aromatic with a bouquet of floral and fruity notes, including bilberry, cherry, raspberry, woodland flowers and a smoky edge. On the palate this

wine is dry, continuing on with the refreshing fruit notes, with a touch of tannin giving the wine a pleasant structure and depth. Pairs perfectly with rustic food, especially pâté.

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