Wines of Alsace Tasting at Everest

A line-up of delightful Rieslings from a range of vintages

Take a little photo journey through the lovely food and Alsace wine at a tasting I had the honor of attending, held at Everest. The 13th generation winemaker in town presented these jewels, with their golden straw color, dry finish and ultimate food friendliness.

Here’s a brief overview of the Wines of Alsace, thanks to WineIntro: Alsace is in the northeastern section of France, up against the German border. It is separated from the rest of France by the Vosges mountains. Because of its location, Alsacian wines have many German traits. One of the similarities is the way the wines are named. Alcase is one of the only French areas to name their wines after the grape used, for example Gewurztraminer or Riesling, instead of by a region.

Indeed, the main wines of Alsace are ones often found in German wineries: Gewurztraminer, Muscat, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. The land tends to create a spicy wine, so even the Gewurztraimner in Alsace is spicier than in its native Germany. The land is also best for white wines, although a very few red are grown here.The wines of Alsace are produced in old, inert oak barrels; they never see new oak and this is largely responsible for their distinctive character and flavor.

The bulk of Alsace wine is white and produced mainly from the following four grape varieties: Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Blanc (Klevner) and Tokay (Pinot Gris).

When it comes to style, it has been argued that no region in the world can match Alsace for balancing aromatic rich, dry spiciness with fat, rounded complexity.

Riesling, with its floral, zesty and spicy flavors, is the leading grape variety and accounts for approximately 25 percent of total production. It is also responsible for some of the world’s finest quality white wines. Of the four main grapes used in Alsace, Gewurztraminer is by far the spiciest and most aromatic. Even the usually light, fairly neutral Pinot Blanc, however, takes on a creamier and more appley character than the wines made in Alsace. Pinot Gris is second only to Gewurztraminer in its richness, though it tends to have dominant earthy, honeyed overtones, as opposed to the rose and lychee aromas of the latter. Alsace produces fine “Vendange Tardive,” or late harvest wines that are sweeter than normal and lovely for dessert.

Please let me know if you taste these wines. I’d be glad to answer any questions regarding food and cheese pairings, where to buy and how to thoroughly enjoy them!


About Laura Levy Shatkin

Laura Levy Shatkin served for 10 years as food and wine critic for the Chicago Reader. Later, she became an Emmy-nominated executive producer for Taste, a 30-minute food and wine show on NBC-5 Chicago, which later merged into, where Ms. Levy is a partner/owner. Today, she teaches private wine classes and hosts wine parties for consumers and firms, and continues to tell the video stories of wine, girlfriends and wine travel on her TCW blog, Wine…ing Women.