Flashcards in C17 - Alsace Deck (81):
What is the climate of Alsace?
Cool to moderate continental
What is a potential climatic threat to the region of Alsace?
Prevailing westerly rain-bearing winds
How is Alsace protected from the westerly winds?
By the Vosges Mountains
What is the rainfall like in Alsace? Explain this
Summers and autumns are warm and dry
There is very little cloud cover
The region is protected by the Vosges Mountains
What is the result on wines of the dry climate in Alsace?
Grapes can achieve high levels of sugar ripeness
What is a relatively unique climatic phenomenon in Alsace?
Where are the best vineyards of Alsace located?
On the steepest slopes with east and south east aspects
Describe the northerly part of the Alsace vineyard area
It has the coolest climate and the least protection from the Vosges
Where are the lesser vineyards of Alsace?
On the plain between the Vosges foothills and the Rhine
What is the main use of grapes from the lesser vineyards of Alsace?
In Crémant d'Alsace
What is the soil like in the vineyards of the foothills of Alsace?
Why is there so much soil variation in parts of Alsace?
It has experienced a dramatic geological history
What is the key factor in why there is so much variety in style in Alsace?
The geological variation
Grape growing practices in Alsace, vary depending on...
Whether the vineyards are on slopes or on the plain
Describe Alsatian vineyard practices on slopes
They are trained low to benefit from radiated heat
Rows are oriented to maximise the vines' exposure to the sun
Harvesting is done by hand
Describe Alsatian vineyard practices on the plains
Vines are trained high to minimise the risk of Spring frosts
What kind of viticulture is commonly practiced in Alsace?
Organic and Biodynamic
Why are Organic and Biodynamic viticulture popular in Alsace?
Low disease pressure in the sunny, dry conditions
What is the key logistical challenge faced by growers in Alsace?
Because they have a number of small plots of vines, each planted with different varieties, they will ripen at different times, therefore the vintage may be spread over a long period
Between which months does the Alsatian harvest usually last?
September - November/December
What are the most important/noble varieties of Alsace?
Which varieties may be used for VT, grand cru and SGN wines in Alsace?
The noble varieties only
The vast majority of Alsace wines are made from...
What are Alsatian blended varieties usually made from?
Juice that was not selected for varietal wines
What does it mean when an Alsatian wine is labelled Edelzwicker or Gentil? How else may this be labelled?
A blended wine
A producer's brand name
Are all Alsatian blends of a basic quality?
No, some are very high quality, even being made from grand cru vineyards, but these are very rare
Why is winemaking in Alsace so focused on retaining aroma/varietal character?
Most of the varieties are aromatic
How do traditional Alsatian winemakers typically ferment their wines?
In large old oak barrels, typically more than 100 years old
What is notable about the old oak barrels sometimes used in Alsace?
The inside is lines with a thick layer of Tartrates
What is the effect of the tartrate deposits lining the inside of Alsatian barrels?
It prevents the wood from having any influence on the wine
What kind of vessel is used for modern fermentation in Alsace? What is the benefit of this?
They facilitate the control of temperature at fermentation
Which winemaking practice is generally avoided in Alsace? Why?
It would mask the pure fruit flavours
When does bottling usually take place in Alsace? Why?
In the spring following the vintage
The wine is still young and fresh
Can Alsace wines be bottle-aged?
Many of them can, yes
What are the predominant sugar levels in Alsace wines?
Most are dry (with the exception of VT and SGN wines), but recently more and more - particularly grand cru wines - are being made with noticeable levels of sweetness
What is the problem with the increasing levels of sweetness in Alsace?
There is no official system for indicating sweetness levels
Describe the sweetness levels of VT wines in Alsace
They can range from dry to medium-sweet
Describe sugar levels in SGN wines
They are always sweet, though the influence of noble rot can vary from wine to wine
What is the most widely planted of the noble varieties in Alsace?
Describe the flavour profile of the best Rieslings in Alsace
Medium to full-bodied
Citrus and stone fruit
Pronounced steely/stony character
Contrary to its traditional style, many Alsace Rieslings are now being made with...
Some residual sugar
How do Alsace Rieslings typically differ from their German counterparts?
They don't typically shoe as much floral character
What aromas are typical from an Alsace Gewurztraminer?
Sweet baking spices
Describe the appearance of the Gewurztraminer grape and its effect on the wine
The skin has a light pink tinge, giving a golden colour to some of the wines
Give the profile of Gewurztraminer wines
High alcohol (14% is not uncommon)
Low to medium acidity
What is the profile of Alsace Pinot Gris?
Full-bodied and rich
More acidity than Gewurztraminer
Similar colour to Gewurztraminer but less aromatic
Pronounced flavour of fresh and dried fruits and a honeyed character
Which Muscat grape provides the best quality of the three in Alsace?
Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains
What is the flavour profile of MBAPG in Alsace?
Light to medium body
Low to medium acidity
Orange blossom, Rose and Grape flavours
What is the viticultural hazard associated with growing MBAPG in Alsace?
It is prone to poor fruit set and rot
What is used as a more reliable alternative to MBAPG in Alsace? How does it compare with the former?
Give the most widely planted non-noble variety in Alsace
On what kind of land is Pinot Blanc planted in Alsace?
In the more fertile soils of the plains
What is Pinot Blanc most commonly used for in Alsace?
Roughly describe still wines of Pinot Blanc in Alsace
Light, simple, refreshing and non-aromatic
Which Alsace grape is similar to Pinot Blanc but slightly spicier and more full-bodied?
What is sometimes blended with Pinot Blanc in Alsace?
Which Alsace grape variety used to be widely planted, but is making way for noble varieties?
Roughly describe Sylvaner wines from Alsace
Some richness (but less than Gewurztraminer)
Best drunk young
What is the only black variety permitted in Alsace?
Describe Alsace Pinot Noir
They lack the weight and concentration of Burgundy Pinot Noir
At their best, a light, fruity red/rosé
How do winemakers in Alsace sometimes force more concentrated flavours in Pinot Noir-based wines?
With new oak flavours
How many appellations are there in Alsace?
What are the principal appellations of Alsace?
Alsace Grand Cru
What are the two other classifications in Alsace?
Sélection de Grains Nobles
What dictates the classifications VT and SGN?
Which Alsace appellation can apply to use VT/SGN?
How do producers in Alsace differentiate between the qualities of their wines?
With terms like Réserve personelle and Cuvée spéciale (these terms have no legal status)
Which appellation accounts for the majority of Alsace's production?
What is the status of single variety wines within the Alsace appellation?
Most Alsace wines are single variety
What is key about the single variety wines of Alsace?
They are varietally labelled
What must apply if a wine is varietally labelled?
100% of grapes must be from that variety
Can villages be named on Alsace appellation wines?
Yes, some villages can for certain styles of wine, but this is rare
How many vineyards in Alsace have their own Grand Cru appellation?
What are the main rules applying to Alsace grand cru wines?
They must be produced from a single noble variety (with some exceptions)
The label must state vineyard, vintage and grape variety (where appropriate)
What is the controversy surrounding the grand cru appellation in Alsace?
Many producers believe the appellations to be too large and encompass land not worthy of the title
What is the meaning of Vendanges Tardives?
How may a wine qualify for Vendanges Tardives?
It must be made from a noble variety
It must have a specific minimum sugar ripeness depending on variety
How are the best VT wines of Alsace vinified?
They will have undergone passerillage
There may be some influence of noble rot
What are the principal rules applying to a wine being SGN?
Must be from a noble variety
Must have a minimum sugar ripeness depending on variety (higher than those of VT wines)
How are the higher necessary sugar ripeness levels required in SGN wines achieved?
Usually by noble rot