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All podcast music: “Café connection” by morgantj / CC BY 3.0, ©2009 – Licensed under Creative Commons 
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May 14, 2020

Alsace Riesling is, without a doubt, one of the greatest white wines of the world. With its rich body, effusive flavor that ranges from flowers to fruit to nuts and spice, and acidity to keep it in balance, this liquid gold has been famed for centuries. It was the wine that got me into wine, my "aha" wine but even without that, I would still love the wine. 

Alsace has a rich history (it's been the ball in a ping pong match between Germany and France for centuries), and a complex geology and climate.


Alsace is a land of paradoxes. It labels wines by grape and bottles in tall German-style but its wines are distinctively French in their elegant, silky, voluptuous style. It is one of the most northerly growing regions in the world at (47˚ - 49˚  north latitude) and yet the summers are hot, dry, and sunny due to its location in the rainshadow of the Vosges Mountains. It is a small area, yet it contains 13 soil types, and more microclimates than can be counted. 

There is wonderful wine to be had from Riesling -- from the basic wines of the plains to crémant (sparkling) to unctuous sweet wines (Vendanges Tardives and Selection de Grains Nobles) but the Greats of Alsace are the top wines of the Grands Crus.


These 51 sites are not all exceptional, but those that are make wines of unparalleled aroma, flavor, and texture that still have the pointed acidity you'd expect from Alsace. When you get a great Alsace Grand Cru Riesling, it is a memorable experience that you never forget. Here are a few details that may have been hard to catch from the show:


Geology and Climate deets:

  • We discuss the graben (not the mythical creature we posit it could be and for which we provide side effects): a trough formed by two parallel faults that rubbed and broke many geological eras ago.
  • We mention the various soil types -- volcanic, gneiss, granite, schist, limestone, marl, sand, loess, loam alone and together


We discuss the classifications of Alsace:

  • Alsace AOC 
  • Alsace Communes:
    • Bergheim
    • Blienschwiller
    • Coteaux du Haut Koenigsbourg
    • Cotes de Rouffach
    • Cotes de Barr
    • Klevner de Heiligenstein
    • Ottrott
    • Rodern
    • Scherwiller
    • Hippolyte
    • Vallee Noble
    • Val St. -Gregoire
    • Wolxheim
  • Alsace Lieu-Dit: A plot or vineyard with special character – have to meet strict requirements


Alsace Grand Cru examples discussed:  

  • Schlossberg – 1st Grand cru, 1975
  • Hengst
  • Brand
  • Rangen  (challenging vineyard, ages well)
  • Schoenenbourg  (where Voltaire one owned vines)

Producers mentioned:

  • Reliably DRY producers: Trimbach (Clos Sainte Hune Cuvée Frédéric Émile), Ostertag and Kreydenweiss
  • Others: Zind-Humbrecht, Josmeyer, Hugel, Domaine Weinbach, Beyer

*All photos courtesy of Vins d'Alsace


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