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A Tale of Two Identities – Alsace, France

28 Aug

Alsatian wines have often mistakenly been referred to as German, due to the tumultuous history of ownership of this track of land on the French border.

Riquewihr, Alsace, France

Riquewihr, Alsace, France

In the late 17th century, it became French territory, however during the 1871 Franco-Prussian war, it became part of Germany.

The end of WWI (1918) saw Alsace returned to France, only to be annexed once more to Germany in 1940.

It’s worth reflecting at this point how this would have affected the mood of the Alsatians. During WWII, they were drafted as German soldiers and expected to fight against their fellow frenchmen, and the very distributors who peddled their wines around France for them!

Fortunately, after the defeat of Germany in 1945, France once again opened its arms and welcomed the Alsatians back as their own. It has remained so to this day.

Produces World’s Best Rieslings …

Despite the association with Germany, and the similarities in grape varieties used (mainly Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Gewürztraminer), Alsatian wines are drier and fuller-bodied, with less residual sugar.

Rieslings and Gewürztraminer from Alsace in particular are world reknowned for excellence.

 Appellations History

Riquewihr, Alsace, France

Riquewihr, Alsace, France

Alsace finally became part of the Apellation Contrôlée in 1962, and since 1972 only the Alsace flûte style bottle is permitted for these wines.

Contrary to other appellations, Alsace wineries are allowed to include the grape varietal on the labels of their wine – but only if it is made from 100% of the varietal.

The Alsace apellation consists of two départements: Haut-Rhin (considered the best) and Bas-Rhin.

Vineyards near Riquewihr, Alsace, France

Vineyards near Riquewihr, Alsace, France

In 1975, Alsace became eligible for the classification of Grand Cru.

For a vineyard to attain this status, it must make wines from one of four noble varietals:

Riesling,

Gewürztraminer

Pinot Gris

Muscat.

Yields are maximised at 65hl/ha and minimum natural alcohol must reach 10% or 12% depending on grape. Both grape and vintage must be shown on the label.

Special Thanks!!

I must extend a big THANK YOU, to my friend Phillipe Durst, Export Manager of the wine house Dopff au Moulin, for providing the pictures on this page.

Head Office, Dopff au Moulin, Alsace, France

Head Office, Dopff au Moulin, Alsace, France

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