Alsace is located in the northeastern part of France, just across the Rhine River from Germany. Although Alsace and Germany grow many of the same grapes (Riesling and Gewerztraminer, for example) Alsace wines are dry, while many German wines are medium-dry to sweet. The region is about 110 kilometers long, one to five kilometers wide. It produces one-fifth of all AOC wines. Alsace lies on the western flank of the Vosges Mountains, which protects it from cool northerly influences and provides a light shadow effect. The climate is dry and temperate with long days; soils are varied, including chalk/marl, granite and limestone. There are two Alsace appellations - the easiest in France: Alsace AC and Alsace Grand Cru AC.
All Alsace wines are 100% varietals, with no blend permitted except for two styles, the blended table wine Edelzwicker and the sparkling wine, Crmant d'Alsace. And all Alsace wines are bone-dry with two exceptions, Vendage Tardive and Selection des Grains Nobles.
The varietals of Alsace are mainly white including Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Tokay-Pinot Gris, Sylvaner, Pinot Blanc, and Muscat. Some light-bodied Pinot Noirs are also made. The whites tend to have a common character, most often described as a spiciness. They are also quite food-friendly.
The Grand Cru system was established in Alsace in 1975. Wines so designated can only be of Muscat, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer. Of the 26 originally so classified, there are now over 50. Interestingly, these wines must pass a board annually to continue to continue to carry the Grand Cru designation on their label.
White varietals of Alsace:
Pinot Gris (formerly known as Tokay d'Alsace)
Red varietals of Alsace: