Fine French Wine – from Alsace! Our guide to the region’s best
7 May 2016
This year’s Le French Gourmay Festival aims to introduce Hong Kong to the wonders of the Alsace region. Known for its outstanding food and wine, this tiny piece of France has a lot to offer. Fancy an Alsatian tipple? Then you’ll need to read this…
Fact File – The Wines of Alsace
- Alsace produces around 160 million bottles of wine a year, and all varieties have AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) status, which ensures consistency and high quality – this means it’s all good!
- Alsace Grands Crus is a new regulation that recognises outstanding vineyards. To be entitled to Grands Crus status wine must be made from hand-picked grapes from sites within Alsace that meet strict criteria for geology and micro-climate – a tough reward to earn (only 4% of Alsace’s wines qualify) but highly prized!
- Crémant D’Alsace is the crown jewel of sparkling wines and is produced using strict traditional methods. The grapes are picked at the very beginning of the harvest (an auspicious time), and Crémant D’Alsace is one of the top sparkling wines consumed in France today – it’s definitely one to pull out on special occasions!
- Winemakers are increasingly pushing the limits with their grapes and chasing Vendanges Tardives status. Late harvest grapes are picked when they have reached maximum ripeness – with extremely high levels of sugar - which makes them likely to produce wines that are considered to be exceptional.
- Unlike other French wines, which are named after the vineyard or villages they are made in, Alsace wines are labeled with the grape varietal, for example Alsace Riesling.
- All varieties are sold in a distinct green bottle, called a “Flute of Alsace” and all Alsatian wines are bottled in the region where they are produced.
There are seven main grape varietals grown in Alsace, and 90% of the wine produced in the region is white. Now, it’s great to know where they come from and how they’re made but what we really want to know is how to drink them. Here’s a quick cheat sheet:
Riesling: Fruity, spicy and often earthy, Riesling from Alsace is highly regarded, and is one of the varieties afforded Grands Crus status. Drink it with sushi, shellfish, citrusy desserts, poultry, cheese, or charcuterie.
Muscat d’Alsace: An aromatic and dry wine that’s lovely with vegetable dishes, or served as an appertif.
Pinot Gris: This smoky and fresh white wine goes well with mushrooms, risotto, and wintery comfort foods like roast meats and heavy sauces.
Sylvaner: Perfect for summer evenings, serve this one with shellfish, cold meats, or salads
Gewurztraminer: A rich, fruity and well-bodied wine, this one steals the show as the most famous of Alsace’s wines. Pair it with strong cheeses, spicy Asian or Indian dishes.
Pinot Blanc (or Auxerrois): fruity, delicate, fresh and well-rounded, this wine is best paired with egg dishes, light fish, chicken or pork, and salads.
Vendanges Tardives: Enjoy with dessert or as the finishing touch to a meal on its own, also delectable with hard cheeses.
Cremant D’Alsace: No excuse needed! Drink this anywhere, anytime.
Pinot Noir: The only red wine produced in Alsace and the only grape used in the production of Crémant D’Alsace rosé. Serve this fruity and complex wine with red meat, mild cheeses, and the local favourite asparagus. The perfect red for summer.
To find out more about Alsace visit region-alsace.eu or www.tourisme-alsace.com and don't forget to have a sneak around our Wine and Dine page for more food and drink recommendations in Hong Kong and beyond!
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