Located in North-eastern corner of France, stands out from other French wine regions thanks to its strong Franco-Germanic influences.
Alsace, in the north-eastern corner of France, stands out from other French wine regions thanks to its strong Franco-Germanic influences. These are the result of the region having switched back and forth between German and French sovereignty in recent centuries – and are evident not only in Alsatian architecture and culture, but also in the wines.
The Alsace region lies between the Vosges mountains and the French border with Germany, marked by the Rhine river. A long, thin region, it measures 115 miles north to south and just 25 miles from east to west. The Vosges play a vital role in defining the region's terroir; they not only provide protection from the prevailing westerly winds, but also cast a rain shadow over the area, contributing to the low rainfall of its continental climate. The glacial activity which created the mountains has also significantly impacted the region's topography and soils. These vary from sandstone, granite and volcanic rock types in the foothills, to clay-rich limestone and marlstone on the alluvial plains below.
Alsace is the only French wine region to grow significant quantities of Riesling and Gewurztraminer. Both of these varieties are more commonly associated with German wines, and serve as a reminder of Alsace's history. Pinot Gris, a variety typically marginalized in other French regions as a blending component, is another of the region's specialties.
Alsace's wines are produced under three key appellations: Alsace and Alsace Grand Cru for still white wines (both sweet and dry), and Cremant d'Alsace for sparkling.
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