What is a grape variety?
There are grapes grown for wine production, but also grape varieties for the table. Grape varieties can be vinified alone (mono-varietal), or by mixing 2 or 3 varieties (bi- or tri-varietal).
In France, nearly 210 grape varieties are authorised and cultivated.
What is a Grand Cru?
Since 1975, Alsatian winegrowers have been upgrading and higlighting their unique terroirs. Today, 51 Alsatian terroirs are subject to the AOC ALSACE GRAND CRU Charter. Benefiting from an ideal exposure on high sloping vineyards (Vosges hillsides range from 200 to 400 meters in altitude), they are rich thanks to the composition of the soil (sandstone, marl, limestone, clay ...). This allows the grapes to ripen slowly, giving them a finesse and exceptional aromas that are unique and unequalled.
Only the most noble grape varieties, Rielsing, Muscat, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer can be grown in a proper area. The yields and the surface area og these terroirs are very strictly controlled.
The Grands Crus, which represent 5 % of Alsace's production, are wines with great ageing potentiel. They are the perfect symbol of a marriage between the terroir and grape variety.
The Grand Cru Zinnkoepflé
The Grand Cru Zinnkoepflé faces south and south-east with an altitude ranging 200 to 400 meters. It is located on the hillsides of Soultzmatt and Westhalten and covers 71 hectars. The circular layout of the valley (Vallée Noble) and the protection of the Petit Ballon make it an area of low rainfall. This area benefits from a warm and arid micro-climate on a Triassic limestone from the Muschelkalk and sandstone inclusions.
The name of the area is easily understood with "Zinn" or "Sonne" for sun and "Koepflé" or " Kopf" for head in German. The translation is "sun mountain", as the soil is very stringly exposed to the sun. The name might also come from the "Sinnele", the small fossilised gastropods which are numerous on this terroir.
Our Gewurztraminer and Riesling grow very well here. This terroir produces Gewurztraminer with a rich, spicy and full-bodied bouquet. Our Rieslings are dry with vegetal and herbaceous notes (dry grass). These wines will become wines destined for ageing and fine gastronomy.
The Grand Cru Spiegel
The Grand Cru Spiegl extends between Guebwiller and Bergholtz over 18.25 hectares and faces east. It is located to the south of the Grand Cru Pfingstberg at an altitude of 260 to 315 meters. It lies on Oligocene substrates of conglomerates (mostly sandstone pebbles) and marl. The soil has a sandy-clay texture. This terroir is perfectly suited to the production of the Riesling grape.
The Grand Cru Pfingstberg
The Grand Cru Pfingstberg, facing south-east in Orschwihr, civers 28.15 hectares exactly between the Grand Cru Zinnkoepflé to the north and the Grand Cru Spiegel to the south. Situated between 270 to 370 meters above sea level, it is made up of two cery distinct parts. The upper part of the vineyard lies on the substratum of calcerous sandstone and micaceous sandstone. This lower part of the terroir is particularly suited to the Gewurztraminer grape, which brings great richness. This Grand Cru gives wines marked by very floral aromas and a great freshness. It produces wines with great ageing potential. The soil is favourable to botrytis.
What is Vendange Tardive?
The Vendanges Tardives are wines made from grapes that have been harvested late and over-ripe. This pratice produces wines rich in residual sugar and aromatic, called "moelleux" or "loquoreux". In order to be called "Vendanges Tardives", the grapes used for this wine must be harvested by hand and the yields are very limited. These wines can aslo be affected by Botrytis, a noble rot, giving a still higher concentration of residual sugar.
Late Harvest can also be used to produce ice wines such as our "Elixir de l'An d'Après". When the harvest takes place in the middle of winter (December to January), the frozen grapes piscked will have a particular concentration of sugar.
These vendanges Tardives are not to be confused with the Grand Crus or the Sélections de Grains Nobles.
What is Sélection de Grains Nobles?
The Sélection de Grains Nobles is made from grapes affected by Botrytis, a noble rot. This fungus brings even ore sugar to the grapes. Indeed, feeding on all the water concentrated in the grape, it increases the concentration of sugar. Particular care is taken to ensure that this process does not turn into grey rot, which would spoil the fruit.