In Alsace, seven varieties of grape predominate which are also known as “Les cépages nobles”. They are Sylvaner, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Muscat, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Noir. In recent decades, another grape variety has become more widely grown. This grape variety is Chardonnay. This grape variety is allowed in the AOC Crémant d’Alsace.
SylvanerThis is a varietal which is harvested late, possessing a hue that varies from pale green to golden yellow and whose grapes are marked by small brown spots. It flourishes in limestone soils.
This grape yields a fresh wine which is light, dry and which gives elegant aromas of white flowers.
Pinot BlancThe white variety of Pinot Noir, this early-ripening grape has adapted well to all soils and microclimates of the region. Though in essence Pinot Blanc is a still, white wine it is also to be found in most Alsace Crémants.
Pinot Blanc gives a dry white wine of great finesse which expresses aromas of the fruit of the orchard (pears, apples and plums).
RieslingKing of the grapes of Alsace, Riesling is perfectly suited to cooler climates which permit a slower maturation. The fruit of this late-harvested grape vary in colour from light green to a golden yellow which feature brown markings on the skins.
Providing predominant aromas of citrus fruit and white flowers, Riesling produces a distinguished white wine with a rich bouquet. It epitomises the mineral quality of the terroir from which it comes.
MuscatThere are in fact two varieties of Muscat which are grown side by side in Alsace. First is the “muscat d’Alsace” which is harvested late and which is used elsewhere such as in Frontignan and Rivesaltes. Secondly is the “muscat ottonel” which is picked earlier and much more fragile to the touch.
Of great aromatic breadth, Muscat in Alsace produces a dry wine which presents a rich bouquet of fresh grapes with lighter notes of mint or aniseed.
Pinot GrisThe grey variety of Pinot Noir, it was for a long time known as Tokay Pinot Gris even though it has nothing to do with the Hungarian appellation of the same name, and is a grape which is harvested early.
Wines made from Pinot Gris tend to be robust, rich and round. Often giving off hints of such fruit as apricots and peaches, distinctly smoky aromas and that of undergrowth may also be detected.
GewurztraminerProducing fruit which ranges in colour between pink and pale red, it is, by nature of its maturity, the last grape in the vineyard to be harvested. Closely related to the Savagnin grape grown in the Jura, it thrives in marno-calcaire soils.
Gewurztraminer from Alsace is a wine of great aromatic complexity that is round and sweet in character. It reveals the aromas of exotic fruit like lychees and mango, flowers such as the rose and spices (liquorice and cloves).
Pinot NoirA black grape which produces white juice, Pinot Noir is a varietal that is picked early and which does very well in limestone soils. It is the basis for Alsace’s red wines and the grape exclusively used in Crémant d’Alsace “rosé”.
Pinot Noir yields a red wine that carries aromas of red fruit, particularly cherries. According to the ageing process chosen (carried out in wooden barrels) and the soil in which it was grown, the wine may be variously robust and full.
ChardonnayThis early-maturing grape is white in colour and is the most widely grown varietal in the world. It is one of the grapes allowed in the production of Crémant d’Alsace.
When harvested early with the aim of enhancing a great Crémant d’Alsace, Chardonnay gives a floral wine which is very elegant and fresh.