Alsace wine festivals

This most northerly wine producing region of France is located in a valley along the Rhine river which separates France from Switzerland. The Germanic influence is all too present in the style of buildings and the local language but also in the style of wines that are made here.

Alsace wines are fresh, fruity and packed with intense ripe flavours and, more than any other region reflect the intricate patchwork of soil types to be found there. Many of the world’s greatest aromatic dry white wines are produced in Alsace.

Alsace was, until recently, the only appellation in France where the grape varietal was named on the bottle. In the rest of France only the producer’s name or the village were found on the bottles to give an indication as to the type of wine.

There are 7 main grape varieties to be found in Alsace:- Pinot Gris, Riesling, Sylvaner, Muscat, Pinot Blanc and Gewurztraminer, the only red variety is the Pinot Noir grape. Each grape has its own unique character profile. Alsace wine production is dominated by the two big Germanic grape varietals Riesling and Gewurztraminer and these two varietals have helped to contribute to the international success of Alsatian wine around the globe.

The Alsatians not only produce single grape white wines, but also blended wine called ‘Gentil’. This style of wine must consist of 50% of the noble varieties (Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Muscat) with the remainder being made up of either Sylvaner or Pinot Blanc.

Alsace also produces a wine that is growing rapidly in popularity as an alternative to Champagne; notably the effervescent and critically acclaimed sparkling wine, Cremant d’Alsace. This is a wine that  is usually a blend of either Pinot Blanc, Sylvaner, Pinot Gris or Riesling as opposed to Champagne which consists of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes. This wine is very good value for money, has a delightful fruity character, is very easy to drink and is a fraction of the price of many top Champagnes. In fact, Cremant d’Alsace can equal many Champagnes in terms of flavour and finesse.

The 170km Route des Vignes d’ Alsace extends from Marleheim in the north to Thann in the south and is sprinkled with delightfully picturesque villages and hamlets nestling between the majesitic Voges mountains and the Rhine. Tranquil villages such as Riquewhir, Hunawihr and Eguishheim are enchanting in their medieval splendour, matched with a timeless personality and are well worth a visit.

September sees the vineyards and villages of Alsace engaged in preparation for what must be, one of the busiest and liveliest times of the year upon the calendar of any wine producing village. This is a time when the harvesting has been done and the Vignerons have completed the crushing of the grapes and are now letting this new wine patiently marry together during the fermentation process in their stainless steel tanks.

Village squares and streets will become a riot of colour and fresh perfumed flowers will punctuate the air. The decorated buildings will be festooned with some of the most delightful seasonal floral displays. Garlands will be hung above shops and houses, many of which will incorporate an essential grape vine in their design.

It is with the prospect of hot late summer evenings that each village will then celebrate this celebration of the grape in their own unique way. Cellar doors at wineries will be thrown open and wine tastings are held for both locals and visitors alike. Everyone is welcome to come and pay homage to all things grape related. You can expect a wide and varied programme of family friendly events as you travel from village to village.

The season really gets going when the Vignerons of the villages celebrate the end of the harvest with “new wine” festivals. New wine festivals can be found throughout the region the main ones being Saint Hippolyte  and Wuenheim from 23rd, Eguisheim on the 29th whilst the largest wine event is reserved for Turkheim on the 30th September.

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