Few territories call for fairytales, historical turnarounds and great wines at the same time. Nested in the Eastern part of France between the country’s Vosges mountain range and the Black Forest of Germany, the region of Alsace has many a story to tell. Recently, wineries of Alsace have been featuring the majestic stork bird in their communication – not without any reason: a symbol of fertility in Alsace, it is storks which deliver babies to the Alsatian ladies that have previously laid a few pieces of sugar by the windows of their houses in the hope of having a baby soon. The long-legged bird flying over houses and vineyards is a promise of a fruitful harvest.
WINE EXPERT & EXPLORER JULIEN YUNG MAMEAUX, OF THE EXPERIENCE COMPANY, TAKES US TO AN UNTOLD WINE KINGDOM.
WHITE WINE WONDERS
The story of Riesling, Pinot Gris or Gewürztraminer starts in Alsace, France. Germany or Australia also produce delicious variations of these grapes, however it is Alsace who rooted the saga. The region counts 53 AOCs (Appellation d’ Origine Controlee) with AOC d’Alsace; AOC d’Alsace Grands Crus which recognizes the most exceptional terroirs; and AOC Cremant d’Alsace, the jewel of the crown for sparkling wines. Desired by kings for millenniums, Alsace has been a battlefield for Celts, Romans and more recently Germans and French. Alsace’s location is not just strategic, it is also perfect for growing other grapes such as Pinot Blanc, Muscat, the very local Sylvaner or the rarer Savagnin grown for Klevener de Heiligenstein wine.
The magic particularly happens with two uniquely Alsatian heroes: “Vendanges Tardives” (Late Harvest), with grapes that are voluntarily picked over-ripe, several weeks after the official harvest time, adding flavour intensity to the profile of the grape itself; and “Selection de Grains Nobles” (selection of noble grapes), made only from grapes with noble rot (botrytis cirenea) which are hand-picked one by one in successive passes.
TASTE MARVELS IN ALSACE
Alsace only reveals itself truly to those who make the journey to this gorgeous reality where myths and legends are witness at each mansion, church or mountain. In a thin-shaped region shaped like Burgundy, from North to South, the Alsace wine road starts near Strasbourg, a European capital, and stretches to Mulhouse, a mecca for car lovers. Strasbourg is a good place to let your imagination wander with its ancient cathedral and its astronomical clock, or the “Little France” canal district, a heaven of wine bars and local eateries. A short ride away is the majestic Castle of Haut Koenigsbourg, full of fairy tales, history and a breathtaking scenic view of Alsace. The fascination continues with a lovely private dinner with the family winery Charles Sparr in the superb village of Riquewihr. Wine lovers will also try Domaine Zind-Humbrecht specialized on grand cru and single vineyard wines, Mittnacht Frères which focuses on strict biodynamic wines, like the Vignoble des 2 Lunes, and indeed Domaine Hugel & Fils, famed for both its Riesling and Gewürztraminer.
A journey in Alsace itself feels like diving into a fairytale book and letting your senses getting inspired by enchanted forests, curious characters and the quest of an immaculate wine. The grandeur of Alsatian wines is illustrated in the tall-shaped glasses as well as the thin, long bottles, and is not dwarfed by other winegrowing regions. Whether in underground cellars with wine magically popping up from an oval wooden vat, or sitting at delicious table pairing wine with local gastronomy such as choucroute (cabbage-based dish), game meat like deer or indeed fresh river fish, the legends of Alsace will resurface only if you dare awakening its uncountable sleeping beauties.
Share your holiday dreams with your travel and events concierge The Experience Company (www.TheExCo.com) at +852 3488 9565 or Contact@TheExCo.com.
(published on HK Golfer – July 2014)