Week 3/8 of wine tasting: Alsace, Germany, Austria & UK


  • Smallest production of the French regions
  • Has a similar topography and shape to the MOSEL in Germany, hence why Riesling and Gewürztraminer perform so well
  • Has a long and cool growing season; sheltered from the wind by the Vosges Mountains – one of the lowest rainfalls in France
  • Due to sloping terracing, many vineyards are still hand-picked = expensive and better quality
  • Easier to understand than the French labelling system
  • The centre of ‘aromatics’ in Europe = so the wine goes great with food

What can be Alsace AC and Grand Cru

Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris and Muscat CAN BE GRAND CRU

Pinot blanc, Sylvaner and Pinot Noir CANNOT BE GRAND CRU, only AC

Key grapes


  • Found in cool – moderate climates
  • Low acid, full bodied
  • Can be sweet to dry – but no residual sugars
  • Gewurz means ‘spicy’ so tropical flavours such as lychee, pineapple and apricot
  • Home in Germany not found more in Alsace and new world

Pinot Gris

  • Found in cool – moderate climates
  • Pinot Gris is Pinot Grigio
  • Germanic and Alsatian = medium to full bodied, spicy, floral (deeper in colour)
  • Italy = light, citrus, green
  • Only Germanic and Alsatian Pinot Gris ages well


Key grapes varieties and facts

Riesling – 22%

Muller- Thurgau – 13%

Spatburgunder – 12%

Dornfelder – 8%

Total vineyards – 102,000 ha

8th largest producer in the world

65/35 white to red ratio

Quality region in Germany for wine is Rheingau

  • Perfect German region for viticulture
  • Steep south facing slopes
  • Slate soils – drainage, heat retention and minerals = perfect for Riesling and Spatburgunder


  • Home – Germany and Alsace but doing well in New Zealand and Australia
  • Style – Dry in France, Medium in Germany, Dry to medium in Australia and New Zealand
  • Light bodied, high acidity and no oak

Pinot Noir

  • Home – Burgundy in France

Doing well in New Zealand and Chile

Style – light in colour, light to medium bodied and light tannins

Labelling – thing to look out for

  • Trocken – dry
  • Halbtrocken/feinherb – medium to dry
  • ESSTES GEWACHS – Riesling or Pinot Noir from one of the top vineyards (Grand Cru). In Rheingau only
  • GROSSES GEWACHS – same but in Mosel

Grapes to look out for:

  • Riesling
  • Spatburgunder – Pinot Noir
  • Weissburgunder – Pinot Blanc
  • Grauburgunder – Pinot Gris
  • Dornfelder


Key grape is Gruner Veltiner – ‘Gru V’

Very fashionable in the UK

Since the 80’s battery acid PR crisis, their wine making laws are one of the strictest in world



  • 2/3 of vineyards are in the South of UK
  • Climate is moderated by gulf stream, there is a risk of too little heat, unsettles/high rainfall
  • UK produces good sparkling wine as it has the same weather, soil and altitude as Champagne
  • Some champagne brands are buying land in the UK for just that

English wine laws are relaxed – new industry

Quality wine scheme – 100% Vinifera Tasting Standards (top level)

Regional wine scheme – created to allow hybrids = VDP

UK table wine – no vintage, no grape, no vineyard


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