May 4, 2020
It’s probably not surprising that a lot of Albertans aren’t familiar with the Alsace wine region of France. After all, in a province where the vast majority of the wines we buy are reds, this primarily white wine-producing region might never come onto the radar for some of us. It’s time for that to change. The wines of Alsace are just as bold, complex and well rounded as some of our favourite reds.
The White Wine Region Red Wine Lovers Will Love
“Alsatian white wines are typically very high quality yet great value wines. These whites are missed by many Albertans as we tend towards red wines,” according to Mike Roberts, Sommelier Manager, Calgary Co-op Wine Spirits Beer. “The vast majority of Alsace whites are dry even though we see Riesling and Gewürztraminer on the labels. The area is also known for tremendous value sparkling wines—and great Pinot Noir.”
An Introduction to Alsace
Alsace is a small wine region in northeastern France that unfolds along the Rhine River. Bordering on both Germany and Switzerland, it has alternated between German and French control over the centuries and the area today still reflects a mix of those cultures.
The region is known for its Riesling and Gewürztraminer, but you’ll also find outstanding Pinot Gris, Muscat, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir.
Alsatian wines are incredibly food friendly. They have a striking ability to bring a dish alive with their light sweetness and bright vibrancy. Alsace wines tend to pair well with salty and savoury dishes such as those found in classic Bavarian cuisine: think sauerkraut, sausages with mustard and buttery roasted potatoes.
Meet the Famille!
Many of the wineries in Alsace have been there for generations and can trace their lineage back hundreds of years. Recently Co-op Wine Spirits Beer held a tasting with Jean Frederic Hugel, of Famille Hugel winery. Eight wines (seven whites, one red) were sampled as the group of tasters was entranced by Monsieur Hugel’s stories of family winemaking and his gentle and good natured ribbing of his neighbours.
The Famille Hugel wines are just one of the fine producers of Alsatian wines that are available at Calgary Co-op Wine Spirits Beer.
Kindred Spirits: Wolfberger
Wolfberger is another. This producer of quality wines from Alsace is another example of a winery making a wide range of tastes and styles, from bold and audacious to simple and easy to drink.
“We do sell lots of the Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris,” Roberts shares. “Both are very easy drinking wines, great as libations and wines that show the breadth of the Alsace region and what you can expect for those types of wines. The Pinot Gris from Wolfberger is excellent for big meals and special occasions when there is a large spread of food, or for a hearty, savoury meal.”
Co-op feels a special kinship with Wolfberger, since it too is a co-operative, working with 450 member winegrowers in Alsace.
Learn & Sample the Wines of Alsace
If you’re looking to learn more about Alsace and expand your palette, ask one of Co-op’s sommeliers for an Alsatian recommendation.
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