Alsace became a region for quality wines, Appelation d´Origine Controllê as late as in 1962. It was the end of a long wait, as Alsace was one of the first candidates when the system once was established.
In terms of wine growing, Alsace includes two departments, Haut-Rhin (No 68) and Bas-Rhin (No 67). All in all, 119 communes are allowed to produce AOC Alsace wines.
There are three basic categories of wines from Alsace:
AOC Alsace explicitly stated that Alsace wines should be dry, sec with respect to use, usage. Whatever that means, considering that two designations for sweet wines, Vandanges tardives and Sélections de grains nobles were introduced in 1983.
In total, AOC Alsace provides a stunning 50% of still white AOC wines and 30% of sparkling wines for domestic consumption.
Despite the simplicity of the AOC-system, the national authority Institut National des Appellations d´Origine, INAO has chosen to set up a regional office in Alsace, just as in Champagne.
The regional organisation CIVA, Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins d´Alsace is set up to assist the business in general and has no legal authority. CIVA monitors the market, provides printed information, arranges tastings and does much more to promote Alsace wines in general. The chairmanship is for one year and is changes systematically between representatives of the family estate producers, the trade and the cooperatives. The staff at CIVA is very helpfull and will send information world-wide on request.
The legislation regarding AOC Alsace Grand Cru was passed in 1975 and put into practice from the harvest of 1983.
On separate pages the following aspects will be discussed:
In addition to the above, all still Alsace wines should be bottled in the traditional flête bottle. However, it is common to see (illegal) 1 litre bottles for lesser qualities of non-varietal wines. Apparently, this obvious violation of the law does not bother INAO the least.
The label should include the following minimum information:
Hence, it is a relief to conclude that we will never see inferior Alsace Bag-in-box products on the market.
It was expected that a system to inform about the sweetness of the wine should have been introduced in 2005 but introduction of this controversial initiative has been postponed.