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Alsace

Wine, Beers & Spirits





































Alsace is known for its production of wine, beer and fruit based alcohols.

Wine

Alsacien wines are distinctive for their varietals, their wine making styles and their bottles. A bottle of Alsace Wine is instantly recognisable with its long and slender silhouette, which is a distinctive "flûte" shape. It is part of the regions branding effort and is compulsory for all still wines from the region. Additionally, there are three official wine appellations that can only be bottled in Alsace.

APPELLATIONS

AOC Alsace
This appellation serves as a guarantee of the authenticity of the Alsace terroir and of the expertise of its producers. It designates wines which are made from a single variety of the 7 permitted grape varieties, or a blended (or assemblage) wines carrying the "Edelzwicker" or "Gentil" indication.
AOC Alsace Grand Cru
Only given to fine wines meeting strict quality criteria, wines from this appellation originate from one of 51 defined locations and are named after the specific locality. Geographic and climatic conditions as well as strict production criteria create unique, delicate and complex wines. These distinctive wines represent the full expression of the regions terroir through their aromatic profile and structure. Grape varieties permitted in the creating of Grands Crus wines are Riesling, Muscat, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer. Under certain conditions of ripeness, the bottle labels may say "Late Harvest" (long ripening of the grapes) or "Selection of Noble Grapes" (a selection of grapes affected by noble rot, or botrytis).
AOC Crémant d'Alsace (Sparkling wine)
Sparkling wines from Alsace are the product of traditional methods dating from before the 19th century and are made predominantly from Pinot Blanc and occasionally Pinot Gris, Riesling or Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir in the case of Crémant Rosé. The wines currently dominate the Crémant wine category in France. Lively, delicate, sparkling, these wines are served as an aperitif or with food, yet can be served for any occasion.

INDICATIONS

Vendanges Tardives
Made only from the same four grape varieties authorised for AOC Grand Cru. The grapes are picked when over-ripe, often several weeks after the start of the harvest. The aromatic character of the grape is enhanced by concentration and the development of "noble rot" (Botrytis cinerea).
Sélections de Grains Nobles
Concentrated by "noble rot", individual grapes are harvested in successive pickings. The character of the grape variety is overshadowed by the concentration, the result being powerful wines that exhibit great complexity and are long on the palate.
Seven varietals exude a thousand aromas
In Alsace, the wines derive their name predominantly from the grape variety from which they are made. They reveal a succession of tasting delights to the enthusiast, boasting a unique range that varies from the very dry and light-bodied, to the most opulent and full-flavoured. Their diversity allows Alsace Wines to be enjoyed at a multitude of different occasions, including celebrations, simply socialising with friends or for everyday. As aperitifs or for receptions, with salads, seafood, international cuisine, cheese or desserts, there is always an Alsace Wine to add an aromatic touch for the discerning palate!
  • Sylvaner d'Alsace
    Fresh and light, it reveals a delicately fruity and floral bouquet, scented with citrus fruits, blossom or even freshly cut grass. This is the perfect accompaniment to seafood, fish or charcuterie.
  • Riesling d'Alsace
    Dry, distinctive and delicately fruity, the wine divulges a bouquet of great finesse, with citrus fruit nuances but also floral and mineral notes. This quintessential gastronomic wine is unparalleled when served with fish, shellfish, white meats and of course, the regional speciality, choucroute.
  • Muscat d'Alsace
    Muscat d'Alsace exudes a bouquet of fresh grapes and, occasionally, delicate floral aromas. Unlike Muscat wines from more southern regions, this wine is dry and gives the delectable sensation of biting into a juicy bunch of grapes. It complements an aperitif superbly and is an excellent accompaniment to asparagus.
  • Gewurztraminer d'Alsace
    Alsace Gewurztraminer boasts a true palate of aromas! It is the best-known Alsace wine. The prefix "Gewurz" means "spice". Full-flavoured and structured, it develops rich aromas of fruit like mango and lychee, flowers like rose petals, or spices. Powerful and exuberant, it can often be slightly sweet and is ideal as an aperitif, to accompany exotic dishes, perfumed or spicy foods and with full-flavoured cheese and desserts.
  • Pinot Blanc d'Alsace
    Discreetly fruity, this wine delivers orchard fruit aromas and floral notes. Tender and delicate, freshness and suppleness intermingle, creating versatile food wines to accompany a variety of dishes, including buffets and seafood. Well rounded and delicate, fresh yet supple, it represents the happy medium in the range of Alsace wines.
  • Pinot Gris d'Alsace
    Rich, full bodied, structured and with a long finish, it displays woodland aromas, sometimes slightly smoky, with characteristic opulence and roundness. It develops an opulent character and intensely rich fullness. Excellent with foie gras, game, white meat, roasts and offal such as liver and kidney.
  • Pinot Noir d'Alsace
    The only Alsace varietal producing red or rosé wines, the wines develops red fruit aromas of cherries, raspberries, currants and can even have a lightly oaked aromas as it is matured in oak barriques. It has a more complex and full-bodied structure.
  • Muscat d'Alsace
    Very aromatic and wonderfully grapey, it is a dry wine, very different from the sweet Muscats of the Mediterranean.
  • Crémant d'Alsace
    Made according to the méthode traditionnelle (with a 2e fermentation in the bottle), it is bubbly and fresh.
  • "Neïjer sïasser" New wine
    Juice from the grape full of sugar and just slightly fermented.

La Route des Vins (The Wine Trail)

The Alsatian Route des Vins is an agreeable way to discover the wine country, the Alsatian grape varieties, some of the most beautiful villages, winstubs, star-rated restaurants, regional farm-inns, and the famous Alsatian welcome.
Websites
Alsace Wines Official Website
The Wine Trail Website













Beer

Present in the regions since the Middle Ages, beer presents a vast Alsatian patrimony. This quintessentially festive beverage goes just as perfectly with cold meat as with pretzels served before dinner.

From the ninth century, the monks have made beer, becoming master brewers, while the Gauls improved fermentation and created the famous ale. The abbeys of Wissembourg and Pfaffenhoffen and the canons of the Cathedral of Strasbourg create a vast commerce built around beer. Monastic breweries were gradually replaced by the guild breweries and the birth of a trade of barrel makers in Strasbourg who took the name "tribu des tonneliers" or guild of barrel makers or coopers. The Industrial Revolution transformed the profession and through new manufacturing methods, Alsatian breweries dominated the field.

Gradually the small artisanal producers regrouped into six major breweries, three are conglomerates which purchased the remaining regional brewers - Adelshoffen, l'Espérance and Fisher are now part of Heineken; Saverne is now part of Karlsbräu, Kronenbourg, a part of Danone and two independents Schutzenberger (la doyenne) and Météor. Today these six produce 56% of French production of beer.

Four ingredients and sixteen steps to fabricate Alsatian beer:
  • Water:
    the quality is fundamental for beer production and comes from the Vosges Mountains.
  • Barley:
    is used in the manufacture of malt and is grown in the rich alluvial plain of Alsace.
  • Hops:
    is planted on the valleys of Kochersberg and Ackerland and is the spice of beer as it aid in the conservation and gives beer its bitterness.
  • Yeast:
    gives beer its life by transforming sugar into alcohol.
The craft of the master brewer is expressed in their ability to control of processes of beer making without affecting the tradition and style of the product. There are 16 steps to the manufacturing process of beer, from malting to bottling with adjustments at each step which shape the beer and provides the vast array of taste.

L'association des Brasseurs de France (The Association of Beer makers of France) : Founded in 1880, this association is the organisation of the professional beer makers in France.
Types of Beer
According to established modern principals, a beer's style can be broken down into various elements - bitterness; sweetness; the strength; the smoothness and the appearance of the beer. For the beer maker, there are three types of beer making -Low Fermentation, which represent 90 % of beers produced in the world, High Fermentation at 8 % and Spontaneous Fermentation at 2 %.

Professional beer makers generally site the type of fermentation and style in describing their products. The style of beer in this region is generally clean, crisp French lagers, names such as Ancre and Kanterbräu and Kronenbourg. The family owned Meteor Brewery in Hochfelden produce an interesting range which includes the unpasteurised, pilsner style Meteor lager and the highly distinctive Mortimer produced using peat smoked whisky malt. Similar smoky-style 'whisky' beers are produced by Brasserie Fischer in Schiltigheim, the amber-red Adelscott and Adelscott Noir and the impressive lager style Fischer Gold.
Websites
www.brasseurs-de-France.com
www.infobiere.net

Eaux de Vie (Schnapps)

Alsace is home to vast quantities of fruit orchards throughout the Vosges Mountains in the Vallée du Kirsch (Val de Villé). Alsatians since the Middle Ages have produced many varieties of fruit liqueurs, confitures and fruit products. Produced in small pot stills by methods passed down from father to son for generations, the liqueur is a colourless alcohol call eaux de vies, or waters of life.

These are dry, but sweet fruit liqueurs & fruit syrups (sirop) which are non-alcoholic are also made in the region. They are served cool in chilled glasses, have a highly scented, heady aroma and taste of fruit.

While Mirabelle and Quetsche plums are the most common types, producing dry and generally very fruity spirits, poire (pear), framboises (raspberries) and kirsch (cherry) liqueur are also made as well as hundreds of others. Traditionally, Eaux de Vie (Schnapps) is offered as a digestive, preferably served in large glasses, to bring out all the subtlety of its flavour and its powerful kick.

Mineral Spring Waters

Mineral water is also an important product in the region. Alsatian springs, most of which are located in the foothills of the Vosges Mountains, offer high-quality water.

The most well-known Alsatian waters are from the Soultzmatt, Carola, Wattwiller and Celtique springs.

The city of Mulhouse supplies its residents with water that has had no treatment whatsoever.

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