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Flashcards in Alsace Deck (39)
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In regards to labeling, what makes Alsace unique from other major French wine regions?

Most of the wines are labeled by varietal.


Generally speaking, what are the most common styles of wine made in Alsace?

Predominantly white wines made from aromatic or semi-aromatic grapes in dry, off-dry, and sweet styles.


Besides still white wines, what other still styles of wine are made in Alsace?

Still red + rosé wines made from Pinot Noir.

The reds are light + fruity in style -- nothing like Burgundy.


What is the sole black grape allowed to be planted in Alsace?

Pinot Noir


What is the climate of Alsace?

Cool to moderate continental


What is the name of the mountain range on Alsace's western boundary that creates a rainshadow effect?

Vosges Mountains


What is the eastern boundary for Alsace?

The Rhine River, which is the natural boundary with Germany.


In which direction do the top vineyards of Alsace face?

The top vineyards of Alsace are on steep slopes facing east and southeast.

Alsace is a warm region, so gentler morning sun (vineyards facing east) is better for the grapes than hot afternoon sun (vineyards facing full south which would get sun all day).


The majority of grapes that go into Crémant d'Alsace come from where: top of the slopes, mid-slopes, or plains?

The majority of grapes that go into Crémant d'Alsace come from the alluvial plains, located between the Vosges foothills and the Rhine, rather than the prized hillsides or slopes.


What factor contributes to the broad range of wine styles in Alsace?

The geological complexity of the soils is the main contributor to the broad range of styles in Alsace.  

Soils found in Alsace include:

Hillsides - granite, limestone, sandstone, clay, loam, volcanic

Valley floor - alluvial

True or False:

Alsace is France's smallest wine region.  

True, Alsace is the smallest wine region in France.


France's wine region with the driest and sunniest climate is:

  • Provence
  • Rhône Valley
  • Alsace



The dry and sunny climate in Alsace means that vine disease pressure there is:

  • Low
  • High



Because Alsace has such dry conditions with lots of sunshine, what viticultural practices are widely used?

Organic and biodynamic farming/viticulture.


Vines planted on the slopes:

  • Machine or hand harvested?
  • Trained high or low to the ground?

Vines planted on slopes are:

  • Hand harvested;
  • Trained low to the ground to take advantage of heat radiating off the ground.


Vines planted on the alluvial plains:

  • Machine or hand harvested?
  • Planted high or low to the ground?

Vines planted on the alluvial plains:

  • Usually machine harvested;
  • Trained high above the ground to mitigate frost.


Harvest in Alsace usually starts when and ends when?

In typical vintages harvest will start in mid-September and run through November, and sometimes will end in December depending on whether the producer has decided to make VT or SGN.


What are the 4 noble grapes of Alsace?

  • Riesling
  • Pinot Gris
  • Gewurztraminer
  • Muscat

These 4 grape varietals are the only ones allowed to go into Grand Cru, VT and SGN wines.


Most wines in Alsace are bottled as:

  • single varietals
  • blends

Single varietals


What are the two terms used in Alsace on bottles of inexpensive white blends?

  1. Edelzwicker
  2. Gentil


What is the fermentation vessel used by traditional wine producers in Alsace?

Large, old oak barrels

These old barrels have a thick layer of tartrate crystal deposits inside of them, preventing the wood from imparting any influence on the wine.


In Alsace, modern producers won't use the traditional, large, old oak barrels.  They'll use this type of fermentation vessel.

Stainless steel tanks, making it easier to control fermentation temperatures.


In Alsace, why is malolactic fermentation (MLF) usually blocked for most aromatic white grapes?

The softening effects of MLF and buttery aromas would stunt and mask the purity of fruit flavors in these aromatic varietals.


What are 2 classifications that can be used by Alsace AOP and Alsace Grand Cru AOP wines?

  1. Vendanges Tardives
  2. Sélection de Grains Nobles


Define and Explain:

Vendange Tardive (VT)


Vendange Tardive (VT): "Late Harvest"

  • Made only from the four noble varieties;
  • May be dry, off-dry, or medium-sweet, and producer not required to indicate sweetness level on label;
  • Grapes for the best wines will have undergone passerillage;
  • May or may not show Botrytis;
  • VT may be printed on either Alsace AOP or Alsace Grand Cru AOP labels.

Define and Explain:

Sélection de Grains Nobles

Sélection de Grains Nobles (SGN): "Selection of Nobly Rotten Grapes"

  • Made only from one of the four noble varieties;
  • Made only in excellent vintages in small quantities;
  • Always sweet;
  • Must meet minimum sugar ripeness depending on grape varietal;
  • Must show Botrytis, though levels vary producer to producer.


Which noble grape is the most widely planted and the last to ripen in Alsace?




Generally speaking, are Alsatian Rieslings drier or sweeter than their German counterparts?

Generally, Alsatian Rieslings are:

  • drier
  • less floral
  • richer & fuller in body

than German Rieslings.


Describe Gewurztraminer's palate.

  • High alcohol
  • Full body, oily in texture
  • Low to medium acidity
  • Lychee, rose, and aromatic baking spices


Which white grape varietal in Alsace has light pink skins?