The total area under wine has increased from 11 750 ha in 1981 to 15 448 ha in 2007. This is still 50% below the area under wine in the 14th century. At present, Riesling is the most widely grown variety, in 1981 Sylvaner was most grown, followed by Gewurztraminer.
Pinot Gris has increased dramatically, from 550 ha in 1981 to 2 270 ha in 2007. The market for red wines have grown, reflected in an increase for Pinot Noir from 640 to 1 476 ha. At the same time, Chasselas has reach a level close to extinction, dropping from the 1981 figure of 420 ha to a mere 105 ha in 2007.
|Druva||Fraction of total area under vine 15 448 ha in 2007|
|Riesling||3 377 ha||21.8%|
|Pinot blanc¹||3 305 ha||21.3%|
|Gewurztraminer||2 867 ha||18.6%|
|Pinot gris||2270 ha||14.7%|
|Sylvaner||1 430 ha||9.3%|
|Pinot noir||1 476 ha||9.6%|
|Chasselas||105 ha||0.7%||Mixed||90 ha||0.6%|
The grape variety per se is the basis for the wines of Alsace. The tradition, enforces by the legislation, builds upon the fact that single variety wines is the norm.
The three AOC of Alsace allow the use of different varieties. In fact, only Pinot Gris, Riesling and, to very limited extent, Sylvaner, can be used for all three AOC. A summary of allowed use of varieties is:
Appellation d´origine controllée
Alsace Grand Cru
Of course, there are several special designations and traditional names one should be aware of. A selection includes:
There is definitely a trend among producers to develop wines from several varieties. This attempts fall into two dimensions, one is legal and illegal, the other is good and bad.
In the "illegal and good" category, we find three wines from Marcel Deiss. With a price tag in the range of €50 he sells a Pinot-based Mambourg, a Riesling-based Schoenenbourg and a Gewurztraminer-based Altenberg de Bergheim. At more moderate prices he markets the Lieux-dits Engelberg, a Burg and so on. These are all remarkable wines. However, I have heard other growers on the same land conclude that they follow Marcel Deiss initiative with interest but prefer to stick to the tradition. It is interesting to see if Deiss, backed by the international wine press, manages to defeat INAO on a core issue.
In the "legal and good" we find Zind-Humbrechts blend Zind07 where 07 denotes the vintage. It has the lowest possible formal status and could be seen as a product in parallel to the super-Vini Tavola of Tuscany.
Finally, in the category "legal and bad" I have come across a Riesling/Pinot Gris blend from the reputed CV Pfaffenheim. It was an obvious attempt to disguise an immature Riesling within a flabby Pinot Gris, or vice versa. It tasted more like an insult than like an Alsace wine.