Study Cards on alsace, slopes, sites

Where is the Alsace wine region located in France?
In north-eastern France. Despite its northerly location it has a warm, sunny and unusually dry climate due to the protection of the Vosges mountains to the west.
Where are the Grand cru vineyards located in the Alsace?
  • On the steepest slopes, terracing can be necessary in some of the GC sites.
What are the drying influences of the climate in the Alsace region? What are the disadvantages and benefits?
Drying influences:
  • Rainfall falls on the west side
  • Eastern side 600 mm of rain (half of the other side of Vosges)
  • low rainfall; drought issue, irrigation not permitted.
  • wettest month August, driest during harvest; fruit set issues and flowering.
  • Föhn wind; warm wind raising temperature and reducing fungal diseases
  • High sunshine hours
  • Marked diurnal temperatures; retain acidity
  • Continental climate; wam sunny summers.
What is the latitude of the Alsace? What do you know about the altitude?
  • Latitude; 47-48NB
  • Best vineyards at 200-250m
  • South, south-east or south-west facing slopes.
  • Near the Rhine river
Describe the soils of the Alsace
  • Very varied 'a mosaic of Terroirs':
    • Plain; deeper more fertile soils
    • hillside; lower fertility, better draining soils
  • In general: Granite, limestone, marl, clay and sandstone
  • South; volcanic soils and some schist

Soils are diverse due to the rift;
  • Heavy clay and marl - broad flavours and weight
  • Limestone and sand - elegance and finesse
  • Flint and shist = flinty aromas
Describe the growing environment of the Alsace and the influence on style, price and quality.
  • Hillside slopes; reputation for high quality wines, have to be picked by hand adding to cost.
  • Most common: single or double Guyot (AOC restriction), higher that normally trained due to frost risk.
  • Denser plantings on the slopes (sun exposure)
  • Harvest is long; early September to late October: due to various styles and diversity of sites (altitude, exposition).
  • Grand cru sites: AOC regulation -> need to be picked by hand. adding cost.
  • Small vineyards
  • Dense plantings 4400-4800 vines/ha
  • Mechanization on the plains
Alsace has a long harvest period, what is this period and how come?
  • Early September to late October
  • Due to range of styles by the diversity of sites (altitude, explosion)
  • On steep slopes: picking by hand
  • Grand Cru: always picked by hand.
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