July 07, 2020 by Alyssa Taylor
On the border between Germany and France lies the region of Alsace, renown for their aromatic white grape varietals, Gewürztraminer and Riesling. As with many other northerly regions in France, Alsace has a much cooler climate, which is showcased through how their vineyards lie on very steep slopes. These steep slopes, depending how they face, allow for the greatest potential of direct access to sunlight. Along with protection from wind by the Vosges Mountains, and the lack of clouds, these conditions allow for the grapes in Alsace to reach a proper level of sugar ripeness.
Riesling is the most widely planted grape variety here and traditionally has a recognizably high acidity with a medium-full body, flavors of citrus, stone fruits, and a stony/steely character. Gewürztraminer, famous for its distinct aromas of lychee and rose, also displays baking spices and a golden tinge to the final wine from the skin of the grape being a beautiful light pink color. Alsace additionally grows Pinot Gris, Muscat, and Pinot Blanc. All of their still wines are grown in a variety of styles including dry, off-dry, and sweet. Specific to this region you may see a few distinct labelling terms outside of Alsace and Alsace Grand Cru. These are Vendanges Tardives (VT) or ‘late harvest’ and Sélection de Grains Nobles (SGN). Both of these terms mean that the wines specified must be made from one of the four Alsace noble varieties: Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, or Muscat, and they must have a specific minimum sugar ripeness depending on the grape variety. The SGN wines will have a higher level of sugar ripeness than those of VT. Wines with these labels will be sweeter!