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Pubdate 2022-08-21 in tourism


Between Strasbourg in the north and Thann in the south, the drive through Alsace is approximately 75 miles, packed to the brim with small, charming villages and a landscape where Grand Cru locations constitute a patchwork of fields. Alsace is a region full of fantastic people, talented winemakers, wonderful food, a local dialect that is completely incomprehensible to outsiders, and not in the least: wines that are generally of very high quality.
Thanks to its picturesque and charming little villages, laid out almost like a pearl necklace, Alsace is the perfect location for a cycling adventure, and also lends itself well as the place to go for one's first wine trip. The region is easy to navigate, villages and wineries are close to each other, and it is generally easy peruse the area as the locals are usually good at English; however, do start out with a polite phrase in French, otherwise, in typical French style, you are easily fobbed off. Also, the roads are windingly romantic, of the kind you tend to get lost on and there is always something beautiful to rest your eyes upon, so you can easily while away a few hours in the bicycle saddle without getting bored!
Foto Alsace av FreeProd33
In Alsace, there is a total of 51 villages that have been granted Grand Cru status, with many vineyard locations mentioned in annals as far back as the 14th century, so there is certainly a basis for good fruit in the region. Five grape varieties are approved as Grand Cru varieties: Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Muscat d'Alsace and Silvaner. Silvaner is a bit of an outsider as it is approved as Grand Cru only in Zotzenberg.
Of course, there are also a number of wine producers who go their own way and completely ignore the Grand Cru system, instead simply growing what they want, where they want. One such "enfant terrible" ("the disobedient child") to look out for is Marcel Deiss, who often cultivates so-called "field blends". In its simplest form, a natural variation of the different grapes in one and the same estate, this is the archetype for winemaking and still occasionally occurs today for wines that never reach the market but are created for self-consumption; but Deiss vinifies, bottles and markets his wines proudly as specifically being field blends. His "Engelgarten" is incomparably complex, a must try if you see a bottle!
Foto Alsace av pkazmierczak
What makes Alsace extra interesting and fun to explore, beyond its natural beauty and generally jovial tourist status, is the wide variety of wines made here. Here there are wines subjected to noble rot, late harvested wines, they make fantastic sparkling wines in the form of Cremant d'Alsace, and there are completely dry varieties, young wines, and old; a veritable treasure trove for those who want to learn more about the grapes grown and the wide range of styles they give rise to. As Alsace has no less than thirteen different identified soil types, the wines vary greatly. Likewise, the topography of the region is quite undulating, which is why the wines also differ thanks to the different altitudes at which the grapes are grown.
Foto Alsace av Herry Lawford  CC
A noble rotted, aged Pinot Gris, which used to be called Tokay Pinot Gris (this is no longer allowed as "Tokay" is considered a trademark infringement against wines from Tokaij in Hungary), together with fois gras seared in butter and served on steaming hot, freshly baked brioche: a combination most definitely created by the gods. Absolutely incomparably tasty, and an almost unbeatable example of when wine and food lift each other to completely new heights!
Foto Alsace av Marianne Casamance  CC
Or try a powerful and potent Gewürztraminer with a Swedish-inspired noodle salad prepared with cured salmon, deep-fried sugar kelp and an emulsion with mustard and dill. A mineral-packed Riesling pairs perfectly with a sumptuous shrimp sandwich prepared with a mayonnaise with Asian and South American influences; there are few wines that meet both minerality and heat so perfectly. Try a Silvaner, with a minerality almost reminiscent of school chalk, which lends itself so wonderfully to the slightly sweet seafood flavor of king crab.
In short: Alsace offers a myriad of styles and wines that invite you to experience them together with food, a go-to region where there is often a wine choice that goes well with otherwise somewhat difficult dishes.
As always: forth and enjoy!
Video - Alsace
Bruno Ohlzon
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