Cross-border Alsace

Cross-border Alsace

Alsace is the place to be. The region combines the best of both worlds, or rather, of two countries. Also when it comes to wine. The region is in France, yet also has a very German feel to it. What exactly is that about? And what kind of wines can you expect?
Text: Evelijn van Heuven | Image: Wines of Trimbach

Alsace is in north-eastern France, nestled between the Vosges and Rhine rivers and bordering Germany and Switzerland. The region resembles a fairy-tale world. The sun shines brightly and the landscape is filled with picturesque villages famous for their timber-framed houses with wooden beams and colourful facades. Often these facades are cheerfully decorated with flowers, with geraniums popping out of the window sills in summer. The winding, narrow streets are cobbled. It's like going back in time a bit. Surrounding these villages are vast vineyards. An idyllic landscape that is at its most beautiful in autumn, when the golden and brown hues make their appearance.
But are you really in France? It also feels German, and that is not just because it is so close to Germany. There is more to it than that.

Pingpong effect

Travelling through lovely Alsace, you wouldn't think it, but the region was the scene of rather turbulent times. For several centuries, the region ping-ponged back and forth from ownership through all sorts of wars: first it was French, then German, then French again, German again, before finally rejoining France after World War II.
As you can imagine, this changing nationality has shaped Alsace into a region with a rich culture, in which both French and German influences can be seen. You can see this not only in the language, architecture and cuisine, but certainly also in the winemaking. 

Varied white wine line

Alsatian wines do not fall within the category of 'uniformity sausage'. Indeed, winemakers there use a variety of grapes to create an attractive and varied wine line. The region is best known for white: from refreshing to flavourful and luscious, from still wines to sweet and bubbly. The region's stars are riesling, gewurztraminer, pinot gris, muscat, pinot blanc and sylvaner. And let these be grapes that you also frequently encounter in neighbouring Germany. But there are more similarities between the two places. Rieslings, for instance, are causing the most furore. Not for nothing is the beloved grape with its high, crisp acidity also called "Le roi des Vins d'Alsace", while the Germans affectionately address Riesling as "König der Weiβweine". Another similarity is that winemakers like to use large wooden barrels in the cellar to age the wines. Or how about the mention of the grape on the label? In many regions in France, that is not done, while in Alsace this is quite common, just like with its eastern neighbours. And look at the shape of the bottle. Sleek and slim, just like in Germany.

Further reading? You will find more information in WINELIFE Magazine, issue 88. You can order this here. 

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