Misfits of Burgundy

Semur-en-Auxois

Semur-en-Auxois

Burgundy…for many novice wine enthusiasts, it is among the most complicated and confusing of French wines. When teaching intro classes on Burgundy, I try to de-mystify the region by admitting that while Burgundy is one of the most complicated wine regions in terms of the ground (100 AOCs and a diversity of soils), when it comes to the grapes it is fairly simple: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Of course, that pronouncement needs to be followed-up by a bit more explanation, to wit: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are by far the most widely planted grapes in Burgundy and you can expect, for the most part, that your glass of white Burgundy is 100% Chardonnay–although in fact a bit of Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc or Aligoté may have crept in. Your red Burgundy is in all likelihood 100% Pinot Noir–although most AOCs allow for up to 15% (combined) Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris. A few oddball AOCs even allow for a splash of Gamay. Perhaps the grapes of Burgundy are not quite so simple after all–but it certainly can be stated that for the most part, your white Burgundy is Chardonnay and your red Burgundy is Pinot Noir.

However, in the world of wine there are always exceptions, and if you’ve been reading our Misfit Series, you know that we’ll stop at nothing to uncover those oddballs–even those hidden deep within Burgundy. Read on to get to know some of the loveable misfits of Burgundy.

Auxerre Cathedral

Auxerre Cathedral

Bouzeron: Bouzeron, a small village in the Côte Chalonnaise is the only commune-level appellation of Burgundy approved for white wines made from 100% Aligoté. Bouzeron, along with the neighboring village of Chassey-le-Camp, has produced Aligoté-based wines for generations under the regional Bourgogne Aligoté AOC, but were granted a separate AOC in 1998. There are currently approximately 250 acres (100 ha) of vines planted to Aligoté within the boundaries of the AOC.

Bouzeron AOC wines have been described as light- to medium-bodied with pear, apple, vanilla, and floral aromas. These wines are typically stainless-steel fermented and produced in the crisp, dry, and refreshing style, but barrel-fermented and barrel-aged versions are produced as well.

Morey-Saint-Denis Premier Cru Monts Luisants: Speaking of Aligoté, here is an obscurity if ever there was one: The commune of Morey-Saint-Denis, in the Côte de Nuits, is famous for many things, including five Grands Crus (Clos de Tart, Clos des Lambrays, Clos Saint-Denis, Clos de la Roche and part of Bonnes Mares), and 20 Premiers Crus. One of the Premier Cru vineyards, Monts Luisants, is approved for white wines produced using 100% Aligoté. As far as I can tell, this is the only Burgundy Premier Cru approved to produce 100% Aligoté wines. It is, of course, also approved for Chardonnay.

Bronze statue by Paul Beckrich, Clos Marey-Monge

Bronze statue by Paul Beckrich, Clos Marey-Monge

Marsannay: Marsannay is a village in the Côte de Nuits (the northernmost wine-producing village at that), and while it might not be among the most exalted (we’ll leave those awards to Gevrey-Chambertin and Vosne-Romanée) it is unique in that it is one of the 5 villages in the Côte de Nuits that produces AOC white wine in addition to red, and it is the only village-level AOC in all of Burgundy that is approved to produce white, red, and rosé wines all at the AOC level. The only other appellations in Burgundy granted this particular dispensation are the regional AOCs of Bourgogne, Bourgogne Passe-Tout-Grains, Coteaux Bourguignons, and Crémant de Bourgogne.

The red wines of Marsannay tend to the light and fruity style, and the whites are crisp and medium-bodied with aromas of citrus, acacia and pear. The rosés are permitted to be produced using the Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris grape varieties and may include a maximum of 15% (combined) Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay. I’ve found Marsannay rosé to be fairly widely distributed in the US. Outstanding producers include Domaine Bruno Clair, Regis Bouvier, and Domaine de Coillot. I’ve had Marsannay rosés in a wide range of colors from pale pink to rosy salmon. Typical aromas and flavors include strawberry, peaches, and orange peel with a good zing of lemony acidity. A good choice for hot summer nights.

Saint Bris: The Saint-Bris AOC, located in the in the far northwest corner of Burgundy (in the Yonne Department), is a white wine-only appellation approved for Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris–a true misfit in the land of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. However, it makes a bit more sense if you look at a political map of France (leave the wine maps alone just this once)–you’ll see that the commune of Saint-Bris-le-Vineux is only about 60 miles to the west of Sancerre, while it is at least 90 miles away from either Dijon or Beaune.  In other words, the commune itself is closer to the vineyards of the Loire Valley than it is to Burgundy (in terms of sheer geography, at least). The wines of Saint-Bris AOC tend to be crisply acidic and light- to medium-bodied with aromas of grapefruit, tangerine, lime, green plum, and peach; with a hint of the green grass/freshly-picked herb scent so beloved of Sauvignon Blanc.

Photo via: eldenwines-uat.ewinerysolutions.com

Photo via: eldenwines-uat.ewinerysolutions.com

César Noir: The César grape variety is truly a Burgundy misfit if ever there was one. It is only allowed in a few AOCs–which include the regional Bourgogne, Bourgogne Mousseux, Coteaux Bourguignon, and Irancy AOCs. Even in these AOCs there are limitations. It may only be 10% of the blend in Irancy AOC. In the regional AOCs of “basic” Bourgogne and Coteaux Bourguignon, it is also limited to a maximum of 10% of the blend AND may only be grown in the Yonne Département. Only in the Bourgogne Mousseux AOC is it considered a principal variety–but only if it is grown in the Yonne Département. By any standards, that is a LOT of limitation.

The César grape variety (technically, César Noir) is an ancient red grape, thought to be a natural cross of Pinot Noir with Argant. Argant, sometimes known as Gänsfüsser (“goose feet,” in reference to the shape of the leaves) is a small, thick-skinned red grape variety that might be native to Rheinland-Pfalz in Germany. There are those that believe that Argant is native to Spain, so perhaps the genesis of Argant will remain a viticultural mystery.

However, it is a proven fact that Argant begat César, in a natural cross with Pinot Noir. It is thought that this first occurred somewhere between the Yonne Département of France and Germany in north/northeast France, which dispels the legend (which led to the name) that the grape was introduced to France by Julius Cesar.

Louhans, Saone-et-Loire, Burgundy, France

Louhans, Saone-et-Loire, Burgundy, France

César is a highly productive grape variety that tends to produce dark and tannic wines. If this strikes you as odd due to the fact that one-half of its parentage is Pinot Noir, I urge you to consider Pinotage–another well-known grape produced via a cross of Pinot Noir and a robust red variety. This might help make sense of the fact that the César grape is most often used, in small amounts, to add deep red color and flavors of red and black fruit to wines that might be otherwise lighter in color and flavor. When produced in a varietal wine, it is often fermented (at least partially) using carbonic maceration.

According to the book “Wine Grapes” (Robinson, et al), there are only about 10 acres (25 ha) of César left in France, most of these in the Yonne. You may, if you look extremely hard and are extremely lucky, find a Yonne-grown, varietal César bottled under the Bourgogne AOC. César’s downfall in Burgundy is its tendency to early-budding, which makes it vulnerable to the cool temperatures and frequent spring frosts of the region.

As for the rest of the world, there are smatterings of plantings in Chile, but few other regions claim César. Such is the life of a loveable misfit.

References/for further information:

The Bubbly Professor is “Miss Jane” Nickles of Austin, Texas… missjane@prodigy.net

Misfits of Tuscany

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Tuscany is red wine country. By last count, nearly 85% of her vineyards were dedicated to red grapes, led by Tuscan super-star Sangiovese. We all recognize the famous Sangiovese-based reds of Tuscany–the Chiantis, the Brunellos, and the Rossos. We also admire the deep red wines that invited international grapes to the party–Bolgheri Sassicaia and the rest of the Super Tuscans, Carmignano, and a host of lesser-known wines such as Cortona, Suvereto, and Val di Cornia.

That’s a lot of red wine. However, white wine has—both traditionally and in modern times—played a role in the wines and wine culture of Tuscany, but you may just have to hunt for it. Out of Tuscany’s 53 DOPs (at last count, 41 DOCs plus 12 DOCGs), only five of them are approved for white wines only. I like to call these 5 wines—four DOCs plus the rightfully famous DOCG of Vernaccia di San Gimignano— the “misfits of Tuscany” (misfit used in the kindest, gentlest of fashions, of course).

Read on to read about these brave outliers, the white-wine only DOCs—and lone DOCG—of Tuscany:

Ansonica Costa dell’Argentario: The Ansonica Costa dell’Argentario DOC is located in the far southwest corner of Tuscany, on (and named for) the Monte Argentario Peninsula. This fascinating place is a former island that is now connected to the Tuscan coast by three narrow strips of land. The DOC also includes the small island of Giglio, located 10 miles (16 km) from the mainland.

The Porto Santo Stefano waterfront (Monte Argentario)

The Porto Santo Stefano waterfront (Monte Argentario)

Ansonica Costa dell’Argentario is a white wine-only DOC approved for dry wines produced from the Ansonica grape variety (minimum 85%). Ansonica is believed to be native to Sicily and spread from there to Sardinia as well as Elba, Giglio, and other islands of the Tuscan archipelago. It is grown in small amounts on the Tuscan coast and inland, but mainly in the southern section of the region. The grape is a mainstay in the wines of Sicily, where it is known as Inzolia, and stars in many of the islands DOCs, including Marsala.

The Ansonica Costa dell’Argentario is the only Tuscan DOC to produce a wine required to be based on a majority of the Ansonica grape variety. Ansonica is considered to be a late-ripening grape. Oak aging and sur lie contact are sometimes used in its production. Excellent versions of Ansonica Costa dell’Argentario are described as medium-bodied with medium acidity as well as aromas and flavors of tropical fruit, ripe pear, green plum, hazelnuts, herbs, and minerals.

Bianco dell’Empolese:  The Bianco dell’Empolese DOC is located in the western portion of the province of Firenze near the town of Empoli, for which it is named.  The region rests in a rather cozy valley, surrounded on three sides by hills and mountains of the Montealbano range. The mountains block some of the colder winds and moisture coming down from the north and in from the west, and grapes here enjoy warm temperatures and sunshine.

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The Bianco dell’Empolese DOC produces dry white wines and vin santo, both based on a minimum of 60% Trebbiano Toscano. The vin santo may be either secco or amabile and must be aged for three years in caratelli (small wood barrels of approximately 100 liters [26.4 gallons]). Bianco dell’Empolese DOC white wines are refreshingly acidic and light-bodied with aromas of pear, peach, apricot, citrus and flowers.

  • A note on Trebbiano: The name Trebbiano is actually used for a variety of grape varieties, some related and some not. Trebbiano di Lugana and Trebbiano di Soave are actually not-exactly-Trebbiano and should otherwise be known as Verdicchio. Trebbiano d’Abruzzo is considered to be the highest-quality of the True Trebbianos, and is related to Trebbiano di Spoletino, a variety grown mostly in and around Umbria. Trebbiano Toscano is, alas, not related to any of the above but is the same grape known in many parts of the world as Ugni Blanc.

Bianco di Pitigliano DOC:  Located in the far south of Tuscany, almost to the border with Lazio, the Bianco di Pitigliano DOC is named for the town of Pitigliano; itself located about 50 miles (80 km) southeast of Grosseto.  This is a mountainous area, famous for its cliffs, caves, and picturesque cliff-side houses.  The northwest portion of the region overlaps with the Morellino di Scansano DOCG, so red wines are produced in this area as well.

Cliff-side houses of Pitigliano

Cliff-side houses of Pitigliano

The Bianco di Pitigliano DOC produces dry white wines (normale and superiore), sparkling white wines, and vin santo, all based on a minimum of 40% Trebbiano Toscana (100% Trebbiano may also be used). A variety of grapes including Greco, Verdello, Grechetto, Ansonica, Chardonnay, Viognier, Pinot Bianco, and Riesling Italico–among others–are allowed for use as the remainder (some in varying amounts). Dry Bianco di Pitigliano DOC can be described as crisp, light- to medium-bodied with fruity, floral, and mineral notes with a touch of lemon-peel bitterness on the finish; Superiore versions have a bit more complexity and, perhaps, an added spicy or nutty flavor.

Moscadello di Montalcino DOC: Don’t be too surprised that a sweet, sometimes fizzy white wine is made in the shadows of big, bold Brunello (after all, it works pretty well for Moscato d’Asti)! The Moscadello di Montalcino DOC area overlaps in terms of geographic area with its big brothers Brunello and Rosso (di Montalcino), but produces sweet/semi-sweet white wines with a minimum of 3.5% residual sugar. Moscadello di Montalcino is produced in still (tranquillo),fizzy (frizzante), and late-harvest (vendemmia tardiva) versions, all based on a minimum of 85% Moscato Bianco (aka Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains).

San Gimignano - the "Medieval Manhattan"

San Gimignano – the “Medieval Manhattan”

Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG: Almost as famous as its red wine-producing brethren, Vernaccia di San Gimignano has been a white wine-only DOCG since 1993 (and was among the first of Italy’s DOCs, back in 1966). This wine, produced from a minimum of 85% Vernaccia grapes, is widely distributed throughout Europe and the US. Unless you live in or are a regular visitor to Tuscany, it might just be the only wine on this list of lovable misfits that you have actually had!

Produced in and around the lovely hilltop town of San Gimignano, expect Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG to be dry, crisp, light- to medium-bodied with aromas and flavors of lemon, green plum, peach, apricots, flowers, and (perhaps) a bit of almond, with a slight hint of green apple skin-like bitterness on the finish.

References:

The Bubbly Professor is “Miss Jane” Nickles of Austin, Texas… missjane@prodigy.net

 

 

Misfits of the Loire

Close-up of a window in Château de Chaumont (Chaumont-sur-Loire)

Close-up of a window in Château de Chaumont     (Chaumont-sur-Loire)

A good wine student can most likely give you an excellent overview of the wines of the Loire. Perhaps it would go something like this:

The Pays Nantais is the westernmost region of the Loire Valley. It is adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean and overall the coolest area of the Loire, focusing on dry white wines produced using the Melon de Bourgogne grape variety. The majority of the wine here is produced in one of the four AOCs bearing the name “Muscadet.”

Moving inland, the Anjou-Saumur region focuses on white wines, both still and sparkling and in various levels of sweetness, produced from Chenin Blanc. Still reds, still rosés, and some sparkling wines are also produced in Anjou-Saumur, primarily using the main red grapes of the area–Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Gamay and Côt (Malbec). Moving further east, the region of Touraine produces white wines using Chenin Blanc, but further inland as the soils and climate evolve, the focus moves to Sauvignon Blanc. Red wine and rosé is produced here as well. The easternmost region of the Loire, referred to as the Eastern Loire or Upper Loire, focuses on crisp whites made using Sauvignon Blanc; a few Pinot-Noir and Cabernet Franc-based reds are produced in the Eastern Loire as well.

Kitchen garden at the Château de Villandry

Kitchen garden at the Château de Villandry

So how did our wine student do? Pretty well, I would say. That’s a nice overview of the Loire!

However…if we want to dig a bit deeper, we will learn that the 300 mile-long Loire Valley wine region actually contains close to 50 AOCs and 5 IGPs, and among them over two dozen grape varieties are grown and made into Loire Valley wines.

Here are a few that I found that produce unique wines using grapes that are (somewhat) unusual for the Loire Valley. I like to call these wines “Misfits of the Loire” (in the most endearing use of the term, of course).

Cour-Cheverny AOC: The Cheverny AOC is tucked into the easternmost part of Touraine, just south of the Loire River. The subregion of Cour-Cheverny (named for a tiny commune with around 2,000 inhabitants) is, in turn, tucked into the southeast part of the Cheverny AOC. Here you’ll find the only Loire Valley plantings of the Romorantin grape variety (and, perhaps the only Romorantin vines left in France). The Cour-Cheverny AOC produces dry to off-dry wines.

Romorantin is a white grape variety closely related to Chardonnay–its parentage appears to the be same as Chardonnay (Pinot X Gouis Blanc) however, the “Pinot” in the case of Romorantin is not Pinot Noir (thought to be the parent of Chardonnay), but rather a rare Pinot mutation known as Pinot Fin Teinturier—making Romorantin and Chardonnay something akin to step-sisters whose fathers were fraternal twins (thank goodness we’re talking about grapes).

Panorama of Saumur

Panorama of Saumur

Cour-Cheverny was promoted to an AOC (from its former VDQS status) in 1993. It currently has just under 180 acres (73 ha) of vines, all planted to Romorantin. Dry wines produced in the Cour-Cheverny AOC tend to be light-bodied, crisply acidic, and lightly aromatic with aromas and flavors of citrus, green apple, and peach. Richer, off-dry wines–some of them lightly affected by botrytis–can have a waxy texture along with flavors of tropical fruit and honey.

Pouilly-sur-Loire AOC: The Pouilly-sur-Loire AOC actually occupies the same location as Pouilly-Fumé (which might be called its “much-more-famous brother”). As all good wine students know, Pouilly-Fumé produces crisp, dry, white wines from 100% Sauvignon Blanc grapes. The Pouilly-sur-Loire AOC, in contrast, produces dry white wines using 100% Chasselas–a grape mostly known for its (likely) origin near Lake Geneva as well as its widespread use in the wines of Switzerland. Chasselas is currently grown throughout France, although it is usually used for table grapes or grape juice. It is, however, an allowed grape in the Alsace AOC (albeit typically used in blends) and Vin de Savoie AOC. Known as Gutedel, it is also grown in small amounts in Germany and Austria.

Château d’Amboise (Indre-et-Loire)

Château d’Amboise (Indre-et-Loire)

The wines of Pouilly-sur-Loire AOC are the only AOC wines in the Loire allowed to use the Chasselas grape variety.  Pouilly-sur-Loire wines are somewhat rare, but Domaine Saget makes a version described on their website as “pale gold with hints of yellow, aromas of white fruit, plum, and almond; pure and crisp with mineral notes.”

Touraine Noble-Joué AOC: The Touraine Noble-Joué is a rosé-only AOC tucked in between two tributaries of the Loire River—the Cher and the Indre–just south of the town of Tours. Rosé-only AOCs are not uncommon in the Loire Valley–others include the AOCs of Rosé d’Anjou, Cabernet d’Anjou, Cabernet de Saumur and Rosé de Loire. However, the Touraine Noble-Joué AOC in unique in that it requires the wines to be produced using a blend of the “three Pinots” – and one of them is white.

The required blend for Touraine Noble-Joué AOC is as follows: a minimum of 40% Pinot Meunier, a minimum of 20% Pinot Gris, and at least 10% Pinot Noir. No other grapes are allowed.

Château de Chambord (Loir-et-Cher)

Château de Chambord (Loir-et-Cher)

The wines of the area also have a long and interesting history. It was a favorite of King Louis XI of the House of Valois, who ruled France from 1461 to 1483. However, as the town of Tours began to grow and spread into suburbs, the vineyards gave over to housing, roads, stores, and cafés. In 1975, primarily through the efforts of vigneron Jean-Jaques Pierru (of Jean-Jacques Sard Jérémie Pierru), the remaining 30 ha of vineyards in and around the town were saved, and the wine brought back into style.  Touraine Noble-Joué was awarded its AOC status in 2001.

Technically considered a vin gris (per the Cahier des Charges), Touraine Noble-Joué AOC has been described as pale, pinkish-grey in appearance with aromas of cherry and strawberry. The wine tends to be light-bodied and crisp with flavors of cherries, red plum, flowers, and berries; followed by a hint of minerality on the finish.

References:

The Bubbly Professor is “Miss Jane” Nickles of Austin, Texas… missjane@prodigy.net

Misfits of Alsace

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The wines of Alsace are a bit of an enigma. They are truly French, and yet certain aspects of their style, culture, and tradition are strongly Germanic. They are the only AOC-level French wine to have labeled their top-tier wines with the name of the grape variety for the last 40 years. They are also unique in that they have 51 Grand Cru vineyards, and yet not every producer or even every Grand Cru is thrilled about the fact.

Despite its long history of wine production, Alsace was one of the last of France’s major wine regions to be granted AOC status. The AOC was first created in 1962; the delightful sparkling wines of the region – Crémant d’Alsace – were awarded a separate AOC in 1976.

In 1975, Alsace awarded its first Grand Cru to Schlossberg, with more designated in 1983. Another 24 vineyards were promoted in 1992, and one more – Kaefferkopf, the 51st – in 2007. As of 2011, each of Alsace’s 51 Grand Cru Vineyards were awarded their own separate AOC.

With few exceptions – which we’ll discuss below – Alsace Grand Cru must be a white wine produced 100% from a single variety of the four “Noble” grapes of Alsace – Riesling,  Muscat, Gewurztraminer, or Pinot Gris. (Wines labeled as “Muscat” may be made with Muscat’s Ottonel, Blanc à Petits Grains, and/or Rosé à Petits Grains variations.) Alsace Grand Cru wines must be vintage dated, cannot be released until June 1 of the year following harvest, and must be bottled in a traditional, tall bottle – the Flûte d’Alsace. They are typically considered to be dry, although in some years a tickle of sugar can be detected; they may be produced in sweet styles as well. Vendage Tardive (late harvest) and Sélection de Grains Nobles (botrytis-affected) versions must be hand harvested and require an additional year of aging.

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Which leads me to the “misfits” of Alsace – meaning those Grands Crus that are delightfully unique and/or unusual.  With 51 Grands Crus, there is a lot of information to corral. (If you’d like to do just that, I suggest this link.) So here are a few of the outliers – the biggest, the smallest, and the three that have exceptions to the “noble grapes only and no blends” rule.

The First and the Biggest: Schlossberg – The Grand Cru of Schlossberg, located on the slopes above the communes of Kayserberg and Kientzheim in the Haut-Rhin, is the largest Alsace Grand Cru – clocking in at 197 acres (80 hectares). Schlossberg also happens to be the oldest of Alsace’s 51 Grands Crus – being the first vineyard to be so designated when the classification first began in 1975. The name “Schlossberg” comes from the 800-year-old castle (“Schloss” in German) located on the western edge of the vineyard.

The vineyard itself is comprised of two parcels, the majority of the area being one large plot of terraced vineyards on the south-facing slope of a large hillside; as well as a smaller parcel across the way. Riesling is the super-star here, with some excellent examples made by Domaine Weinbach, Albert Mann, and Paul Blanck.

The Smallest: Kanzlerberg – The Grand Cru of Kanzlerberg, at 7.5 acres (3 hectares), is the smallest of the Alsace Grands Crus. It also happens to be the most southerly, located in the commune of Bergheim in the Haut-Rhin Département. Kanzlerberg is located at an elevation of 820 feet (250 meters) with a due-south southern exposure, giving the vines wonderful, full sunshine and resulting in richly flavored, complex wines. Kanzlerberg is sometimes overlooked, being located just down the hill from the much larger – and very prestigious -Grand Cru of Altenberg de Bergheim. Tiny Kanzlerberg currently only has two producers – Sylvie Speilmann and Gustav Lorenz – both of whom also produce wines from Altenberg de Bergheim.

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Notable for Noir: Altenberg de Bergheim – Altenberg de Bergheim, located in the hills above the commune of Bergheim in the Haut-Rhin, produces typical Alsace Grand Cru wines from 100% Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Gris. However, it is unique for two reasons: it is allowed to make Grand Cru blends, and it is the only Alsace Grand Cru wine allowed to contain red grapes (Pinot Noir).  Blends must be 50-70% Riesling, 10-25% Pinot Gris, 10-25% Gewurztraminer, and may contain up to 10% (combined) Chasselas, Muscat (à Petits Grains or Muscat Ottonel), Pinot Noir, and/or Pinot Blanc. Chasselas, either of the Muscats, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Blanc may only be used in the blend if planted before 2005. The Altenberg vineyard has been known for its outstanding wines since the end of the 13th century.

The Latest, the Contentious, and the King of Cuvée: Kaefferkopf – The Kaefferkopf Grand Cru is located in the village of Ammerschwihr in the Haut-Rhin Département. It is the most recently promoted of the Alsace Grands Crus, having just been promoted in 2007. This promotion  was not without its own controversy – producers in the area had declined Grand Cru status when it was first offered to them in 1990, and many once again contested the decision in 2007. The contentious issue was a certain plot of land – 37 acres worth – that was part of the Kaefferkopf Title awarded in 1932, but that was specifically excluded from the Grand Cru. Producers using the grapes from this plot thus lost the right to use the name “Kaefferkopf” on their wines – and have since used the more generic Alsace AOC.

That’s a crazy story on its own, but Kaefferkopf is also unique in that it is (along with Altenberg de Bergheim) allowed to produce Grand Cru blends. The blends of Kaefferkopf must be made using 60-80% Gewurztraminer and 10-40% Riesling; they may also include up to 30% Pinot Gris and up to 10% Muscat.

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The Sylvaner Specialist: Zotzenberg – Zotzenberg, located on a series of gently rising hillside slopes above the commune of Mittelbergheim in the Bas-Rhin, produces typical Alsace Grand Cru wines of 100% Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Gewurztraminer. However, this 90-acre (36.5-hectare) vineyard is a traditional growing site for Sylvaner – an also-ran grape of Alsace is ever there was one. The laws of the AOC were revised in January of 2001 to allow Zotzenberg to produce a Grand Cru wine made using 100% Sylvaner. Excellent examples are produced by Domaine Haegi and Domaine Lucas & André Rieffel. Zotzenberg is the only Grand Cru in Alsace allowed to use Sylvaner in a Grand Cru wine.

For more information:

The Bubbly Professor is “Miss Jane” Nickles of Austin, Texas – missjane@prodigy.net