After a successful first #AlsaceWineWeek in Ireland I thought I’d pick out a few key numbers to give readers a background to the region.
The Alsace region is divided administratively into 2 Départements
- Haut Rhin (Upper Rhine)
- Bas Rhin (Lower Rhine)
4 Noble Grapes
- Pinot Gris
- Muscat (usually Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains)
As a general rule, Grand Cru wines can only be made from one of these noble grapes.
4% of vineyard area is Grand Cru
This compares to approximately 2% of Burgundy being Grand Cru (with a further 12% being Bourgogne Premier Cru).
7 Featured Grapes
In addition to the 4 noble grapes above, there are also
- Pinot Blanc
- Pinot Noir
These three plus the four noble grapes above are the most commonly seen on wine labels.
13 Total Grapes
Apart from the featured grapes there are six others which can legitimately be used in Alsace wine, though not ALL Alsace wine. Rarely on the front label, they are sometimes relegated to the back label or producers’ technical sheets:
- Chardonnay (used in Crémant d’Alsace)
- Auxerrois (a relative of the Pinot family, used in Alsace blends)
- Chasselas (from Switzerland)
- Klevener de Heiligenstein (aka Traminer, Savagnin Rose) which is only made in a small, pre-defined area)
- Muscat Rose à Petits Grains
- Muscat Ottonel
18% of total still white French AOC production
This is probably the most surprising number of them all – just over a sixth of French AOC white wine comes from Alsace! Though, when you take into account that there is no IGP in Alsace and white wines are such a high proportion of production (see below) then it starts to make sense.
51 Grand Cru vineyards
Many of Alsace’s Grand Cru vineyards have existed for several centuries, before the Appellation Alsace Grand Cru was first instigated in 1975. 25 lieux-dits were added in 1983 and a further 25 in 1992, with a final addition (to date) in 2007.
See the full list on Wikipedia.
67 Communes on the Route des Vins d’Alsace
From Marlenheim in the north to Thann in the south, the Route des Vins passes though 67 communes (see the full list on Wikipedia) and is a strong candidate for most picturesque wine route in the world.
90% of all Alsace wine production is white, with a tiny bit of rosé and the rest red. In years gone by, much of the red was so light that it was usually served chilled and could have been mistaken for a rosé, but good producers are now making some serious reds.
100% bottled in the region
119 wine growing communes
No hippies here (well, apart from a few Biodynamic producers), a total of 119 different villages produce wine out of the 904 in the region. The floodplains of the Rhine and the higher reaches of the Vosges are not suitable for viticulture, but the foothills are just perfect.
12 thoughts on “Alsace in Numbers”
No hippies here?
It’s a (fairly childish) pun on hippies living in a commune.
Ah sorry, must be the accent 🙂
Great summary Frankie
Lovely to see you still on the Alsace theme. In terms of biodynamic producers, which you mention, it always seems that producer numbers (as opposed to volume) shows a significant mass of people following this path in the region
It would be interesting to know the figures, especially in relation to other regions. I always get the impression that Alsace is at the forefront of biodynamics?
I’m sure there are more in the Loire, but that is a bigger region, at least geographically. Jura seems to have a higher density, but that region is relatively tiny in terms of wine produced. Maybe it’s just down to whose wine I’m buying? And the fact that I’m increasingly buying from the north of the region these days, where many of the younger generation are taking over.
I agree that Alsace is one of the leading regions in biodynamics (this interview piece from 2016 states that Alsace has 15% of the total biodynamic vineyards in the world! https://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/07/lunch-olivier-humbrecht/) and I think this is due to a few reasons:
(1) Alsace is very dry and sunny (rain show of the Vosges etc.) so rot is less of an issue than elsewhere, meaning Biodynamics is a little easier to implement.
(2) Alsace wines are undervalued so there is less of a financial risk in converting – I can’t imagine Biodynamics taking off on the Côte d’Or or Médoc
(3) Related to this is the fact that a large proportion of grapes are still sold to négotiants or co-ops; as the next generation takes over the reins they have the opportunity to become winemakers rather than just grape farmers (c.f. Burgundy where some family holdings are tiny)
(4) Olivier Humbrecht is (or was) the head of a French Biodynamic growers association, so there is a strong leader in the area.
In terms of north or south, I haven’t yet ascertained a particular pattern in conversion to Biodynamics. I know plenty in the Haut Rhin who are Biodynamic – Meyer Fonné, Zinck, Deiss, Josmeyer, Bott-Geyl, Domaine Saint-Rémy, Zind Humbrecht, Schlumberger, Jean-Luc Mader – and that’s just from my #BigAlsaceTasting
🔝 facts mate. Actually I am yet to try a red wine from alsace …. any recommendations Frank🍷👍
I’ve had a few that I really rate:
1) Domaine Zinck Terroir Pinot Noir
2) Paul Ginglinger Pinot Noir
3) Réné Muré “V”
All are from Grand Cru vineyards but can’t (currently) put “Grand Cru” on the name of the vineyard “Eichberg”x 2 and “Vorbourg” respectively.
Reblogged this on Frankly Wines and commented:
As we approach Alsace Wine Week 2019, a reblog of this post seems appropriate!