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Alsace, located in the northeastern part of France, has long been defined by its geographical proximity to Germany. Alsace is a relatively long, thin wine region that winds along the French-German border. As a result, some grape varietals that are grown here - including Riesling and Gewürztraminer - are not grown anywhere else in France.
Over 90% of the wines produced in Alsace are white wines. The most popular grape varietals include Riesling (21.9%), Pinot Blanc (21.2%), Gewürztraminer (19.4%), and Pinot Gris (15.4%). In addition, Crémant d’Alsace grapes are used to form sparkling wines. The wines of Alsace are remarkable for being aromatic, often with floral or peachy notes. They are medium-bodied with moderate alcohol. Almost without exception, winemakers do not use oak aging during the wine-making process.
There are 2 major sub-zones of Alsace: Bas-Rhin and Haut-Rhin. Somewhat confusingly, the terms “Bas” and “Haut” refer to elevation rather than geographical placement. Thus, Bas-Rhin is located to the north, but at a lower elevation. In contrast, Haut-Rhin is located to the south, but at a higher elevation, thanks to its location in the foothills of the Vosges. Traditionally, Haut-Rhin has been home to the best vineyards, including the highly prestigious Alsace Grand Cru vineyards.
Three primary appellations (AOCs) can be found in Alsace: Alsace (white still wines), Crémant d’Alsace (sparkling whites and rose wines) and Alsace Grand Cru (limited special edition wines). The Alsace AOC accounts for nearly three-quarters of all wine produced, while the Alsace Grand Cru accounts for less than 5% of all wine produced.