Alsace – France’s Ultimate White Wine Region.


French wine enthusiasts who appreciate white wines love Alsatian wines. They are crisp, fruity, clean, food-friendly and reasonably prices. Some are exceptionally balanced sweet white wines produced in small quantities with outstanding care and knowledge.

Alsatians have been lucky and farsighted enough to market their wines according to variety, making it at least for the North American consumer, somewhat easy to distinguish between regions, composition of grape varieties and other aspects of French wine laws.

For a long time, Alsatian wines, at least in Ontario, enjoyed a niche market status, but it seems the public has discovered them and the L. C. B. O admittedly recognized their popularity and increased its general list offerings by 70 percent in the last two years, albeit from a small base.

Alsatian wines are versatile. You can enjoy them as aperitifs, pair them with their inimitable specialties (choucroute garni, poulet au Riesling, charcuterie, fattened goose liver in all its forms, soups, fish and even with desserts. Their late harvest and selection des grains noble wines (affected by noble rot) are absolutely delightful not only with desserts but also with delicate, seared fattened goose liver.

Of course dry Alsatian wines go very well with Oriental cuisines be it Thai, Chinese (except Szechwan), and Japanese.

This region’s wines range from extra dry to deliriously sweet, some sparkling, and a few red wines, exclusively vinted from the pinot noir grape.

The most popular grape varieties are – riesling, pinot blanc a.k.a weissburgunder, sylvaner, gewürztraminer, pinot gris, pinot noir.

Alsace changed hands between Germany and France four times during the 18th, 19th centuries, and the last time Germans ruled their grape varieties were planted, hence the dominance of German varieties. Since then growers decided to continue the viticultural practices, and they have been very successful. Many of the famous wineries and winemakers carry German names, and Germans are enthusiastic drinkers of Alsatian wines.

There are hundreds of wineries but the following are the most famous and acclaimed – Hugel, Leon Beyer, Kuntz-Bas, Trimbach, Rene Mure, Domaine Ostertag, Zind-Humbrecht, and Pierre Spar.