When French wine comes to mind, for most we immediately are transfixed by the regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, or even Champagne. These wines of high value (with even higher price tags) have been revered for their storied pasts and inimitable character. But for those looking for an adventure unlike any other, tucked away in the northeast corner of France is a region making some of the greatest white wines in the world.
Just a quick three-and-a-half hour drive from Burgundy, the region of Alsace has been making beautifully aromatic and diverse white wines for centuries (with amazing value). Whether you are on the hunt for a spicy Gewürztraminer, a dry Riesling, an easy-drinking Pinot Blanc, or a celebratory Crémant d’Alsace, the region truly expresses a plethora of personalities to indulge in.
We asked four sommeliers what they love about Alsatian wine, how to pair it at the dinner table, and also what their own personal recommendations are for the best bottles to try.
“Alsace has the greatest collection of unadulterated, no-oak wine flavors and versatility on Earth — delivered at outstanding value. Alsace has the most complex terroir of any region in the world, and an amazing collection of younger and previous-generation vignerons working together to push the envelope of quality and discovery. Alsace is the source of the world’s most complex, exciting white wines, and probably always will be.” – Josh Nadel, MS, Beverage Director, NoHo Hospitality Group
- Domaine Weinbach Riesling Cuvée Théo 2015
- Domaine Bott-Geyl Gewürtztraminer Les Éléments 2013
- Domaine Albert Mann Pinot Noir Grand H 2014
“This is a very versatile wine — it could pair with anything from squab to lamb.”
“Alsace is full of just the nicest people. Everyone in the region is pretty much both a geologist and historian. It’s amazing. The wines are definitely wines of the sun, but unlike other wines of the sun like those of the northern and southern Rhône, Alsace wines tend to retain more acidity and liveliness. They are rich without being heavy. This makes for much friendlier wines at the dinner table.” – Carl York, Director of Operations, Craigie on Main
- Domaine Albert Boxler Pinot Blanc Réserve 2014
- Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Gewürztraminer Grand Cru Hengst 2013
- Domaine Albert Mann Crémant d’Alsace Brut 2014
“O.K., I might drink more of this wine than any other wine. You could pick and choose your words: finesse, delicate, pretty, fine bubbles, etc. They are all words I would attach to Champagne. The beauty here is that this costs about half (maybe less) than a decent bottle of grower bubbles from the Aube.”
“There is nothing like [Alsace]. Everything is an anomaly: from the unexpectedly warm weather given how far north the region is, the geographical mosaic of different soil types, the French and German culture intertwined in the cuisine, the architecture and the Alsatian dialects that came out of both occupations. Alsatian wines are as authentic, inspired, and hard-wired for local cuisine as anywhere the world. It is also a place where the highest concentration of biodynamic and organic producers reside.” – Brian McClintic, MS, Proprietor, Viticole Wine
- Meyer-Fonné Crémant d’Alsace Brut NV
- Meyer-Fonné Pinot Gris 2016
- Albert Boxler Riesling Réserve 2015
“Riesling is kind of a home run in the summer, but if you can wait for a cold winter day, have it with the Alsatian local dish, Choucroute Garnie, and you will earn your stripes.”
“Alsace is such a portrait of its own citizens, who have been through incredible trials and tribulations in the last 50-100 years, which have made Alsace a region that’s so unique, its wines have become historically irreplaceable. Think differently? Have yourself a glass of Trimbach Clos Ste Hune from ANY vintage and you’ll understand history just fine.” – Charles Ford, General Manager, S.K.Y. Restaurant
- Domaine Paul Blanck Pinot Blanc 2015
- Trimbach Pinot Gris Réserve 2012
- Domaine Barmès-Buecher Pinot Noir Réserve 2015
“The Barmès-Buecher family has proved its resiliency these past few years. Let me assert that they are one of the nicest families in Alsace. Geneviève, Sophie, and Maxime are the epitome of graciousness and hospitality. The family has a great variety of lieux-dits as well as three top-notch Grand Crus (Steingrubler, Hengst, Pfersigberg) in their repertoire. Though in comparison to other families in the region, their history may be young, Barmès-Buecher has the attitude and makes the wine that is going to last for quite some time.”