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.
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Where are the Grand cru vineyards located in the Alsace?
  • On the steepest slopes, terracing can be necessary in some of the GC sites.
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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.
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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
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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
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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
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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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