Dry, white and aromatic applies to much of the wine and most of the best. Styles include: Cremant d'Alsace, a sparkling wine usually white but occasionally rosé. Made in a similar method to Champagne, the main grape is Pinot Blanc. Alsace or Vin du Alsace AOC was formed in 1962 and stipulates a single varietal wine from the whole AOC of Alsace. If it contains more than one varietal, it must be labelled as either Edelzwicker or Gentil or be branded. Edelzwicker/Gentil allows producers to combine two or more varietals. Alsace Grand Cru can only be made from one variety and must originate from the 51 designanted vineyards. Conforming to taste and style criteria is a must. Vendange Tardive translates to late harvest and refers to concentration of sugar in the grapes. The style can vary from dry to sweet. Séléction de Grains Nobles is a sweet wine only produced with the assistance of noble rot. Both Vendange Tardive and Séléction de Grains Nobles can labelled Alsace or Alsace Grand Cru.
Riesling and Gewürztraminer are the two star grapes. Muscat, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris (also known as Tokay Pinot Gris) and Sylvaner are other white varieties capable of excellence whilst Chasselas and Auxerrois are usually blended. Some Chardonnay is grown, mainly for Cremant 'Alsace, whilst Pinot Noir is the only red to appear.
Bordered by the Rhin (Rhine) to the east, Vosges Mountains from the west and Jura ranges in south, Alsace is about 70-miles long, 10 wide and between 180 and 420 metres in height. The climate is mild and sunny with long, cool growing seasons. South facing slopes can be relied upon for the ripening of grapes and unusually warm years allow for the production of sweet wines. Soil alters greatly along the ribbon's length and influences the wine in a way that most producers are keen to convey. As a general rule, the wines of the north are lighter and less flavour forward than those farther south.