The 7 classic Alsace varieties
To learn more about and understand the 7 main and classic grape varieties that make up all Alsace wines.
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Where do the grape varieties come from in Alsace?
It was during the Roman period in the 2nd and 3rd centuries that the cultivation of the vine appeared: viticulture. But if the practice has been known for thousands of years, the vine had a rather different appearance from those known today throughout the world, and the regions.
It has always been present and has developed over the centuries throughout the Alsace region. Merovingians and Carolingians cultivated and marketed it more intensively, thanks in particular to the religious orders who developed the wine which became very famous.
Alsace is crossed by the Rhine, which makes it a great crossroads of exchange and trade in the 16th century between Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Alsace. This favoured crossbreeding and the various transformations of grape varieties in Alsace, creating various varieties already listed at the time - among which Traminer, Muscat and Riesling are already mentioned.
Today's grape varieties owe their origin to Roman and Germanic influences. They are the result of the blending of different varieties that began hundreds of years ago and/or of imports. For example, Pinot Noir comes from Burgundy, Sylvaner from Austria, Riesling from the Rhineland, Pinot Gris from Burgundy (and not from Hungary as was long believed), and Gewurztraminer from the South Tyrol.
Hierarchy by grape variety in Alsace
Unlike other regions of France, Alsace has different types of grape varieties. And it is these that are highlighted on the labels and bottles, whereas in other regions, it is the châteaux or the terroirs or the producers that are highlighted.
You will find 7 main ones: riesling, pinot blanc, sylvaner, muscat, pinot gris, gewurztraminer, pinot noir.
Each one has its own typicity, colour, taste and nose, so they are all different and offer a range of aromas of their own.