Alsace wine trail

In December, just before Christmas we visited Alsace. Our main goal was to visit famous Christkindlmarik ( Infant Jesus Xmas Fair )in Strasbourg. OBut on out way we spent a couple of days cruising through Alsace famous vineyards and tasting some local wines.
At that time of the year, patches embedded with vines
unfortunately look sad and colorless, not just like in summer or autumn. But the foothills of Vosges mountains were now covered with mist from the nearby Rhine river and this also had some subtle charm.

On the wine trail in Alsace: Zelleberg seen from the village przedgórza Vosges, church and vineyards in Hunawihr Riesling, Grand Cru vineyard Schoenenbourg.

Alsace, as everyone probably knows, is very famous for its white wines. Precious grapes like Riesling, Pinot Gris ( once called Tokay-pinot gris until Hungary, does not applied to Alsatian court wine ), Gewurtztraminer and Muscat d'Alsace ( quite different from the common grape of the same name from the south of France - because that gives completely dry wine, without any sweetness ). Only those types of vines can be used for the production of top quality wines called grands crus. To received this honorable title of grands cru, the vineyards have to be located in some specific areas with exeptional soil structure and should meet the highest quality criteria.
There are also other grape varieties there. Popular Edelzwicker table wine is just quite a successful mixture of such less noble species.

Dopff et Irion - Riquewihr main street. Beautifully decorated Alsace advent window.

I have been very, very long time a great lover of Gewurtztraminer, in my opinion, simply irreplaceable comrade of any intense flavor cheese. Its delicate sweetness and surprising flavor of honey, flowers and exotic fruits excellent balance any sharp taste of salty cheeses such as roquefort, São Jorge from the Azores islands or the Alsatian Munster cheese. Moreover, if I have to choose a wine to the accompany severaldifferent kinds of cheese, the choice is often Gewurtztraminer. Although one must be careful since this wine may slightly change the taste of soft cheeses. In our home it is not a big problem, since we are fans of old, strong and hard cheeses. The Gewurtztraminer is also a great aperitif and the French also recommend it to serve with desserts and dishes of exotic cuisine ( andone can not easily find a good wine to complement specialties such as Asian ). In contrast to herds of sommeliers and wine experts of all sorts, we rarely feel any dominant aroma in wine, but the Gewurtztraminer is definitely a mango fruit flavor ( at least IMHO ).

Panorama of Andlau town. Kastelberg Grand Cru vineyards.

Sparkling wine crémant d'Alsace has a great reputation in France. Always dry, usually white, occasionally pink. French like it so much that they export only 10% of its production, the rest drinking locally. Crémant makes up to 30% of the French market for sparkling wines.

I could not end this post without mentioning vendanges tardives and Sélection de Grains nobles wines. The late harvest wines, produced only in exceptionally good years, when the grapes are left to mature on the bushes untill the first freezing temperatures of late November in order to obtain a high concentration of sugar. Wines from these collections are usually of exceptional quality and can be stored for a long time ( up to 10-15 years ).

Map of vineyards in Alsace. One of the wine cellars in Riquewihr. Brand Grand Cru Gewurztraminer from Turckheim . Shop of Dopff & IrionCompany in Christmas decorations.

Our travel started from small Riquewihr village. Apart from tasting wines, we were welcomed by a beautiful Christmas decorations and atmosphere. We went to the shop of a very well-known company in the Alsace wine market: Dopff & Irion. To ensure a particularly high quality of the vineyards, the use of pesticides and fertilizers is very limited only to exceptional cases with a natural grass growing in between. We left the store with Gewurtztraminer'em Vendage Tardiva, Crémant d'Alsace Pinot gris and Rieslingiem Murailles Blanc 2005 .