Alsace Grand Cru AOC

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Geisberg, located just outside the village Ribeauvillé, is one of the 51 Grand Cru vineyards of Alsace.

Alsace Grand Cru is an Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée for wines made in specific parcels of the Alsace wine region of France. The Grand Cru AOC was recognized in 1975 by the INAO with subsequent expansion in 1983, 1992 and 2007.[1][2]

The wines come from selected sites in the Alsace AOC region,[3] located at altitudes between 200 m and 300 m. To qualify for Grand Cru status, the wine must first meet the AOC Alsace-rules and then other strict requirements. Thus, the yield of the vineyards has to be 55 hectoliter per hectare or less, the wine has to come from a single named vineyard (which is called a lieu-dit in Alsace) of Grand Cru status, and the name of the vineyard must be listed on the label.

As of 2011, 51 lieux-dits are listed as Grand Cru, the latest addition being Kaefferkopf of Ammerschwihr in January 2007.[4]


Middle Age[edit]

In Alsace, the concept of cru came very early.

In 613, the king-to-be Dagobert gave vines on the Steinklotz to the abbey of Haslach.[5]

In Rouffach in 762, Heddo, Archbishop of Strasbourg, founded the abbey of Ettenheim and made his income up of the vines of the Vorbourg.

In Bennwihr in 777, the missi dominici passing through Alsace exposed in their report to Charlemagne the quality of Beno Villare ("Beno's domain") wines which vines showed off on the Marckrain.

In Sigolsheim, a charter of 783 notified that the Sigoltesberg vineyard (the current Mambourg) was the common property of the nearby lords and monasteries.

In Kintzheim in the 9th century, the Benedictine abbots of Ebersmunster owned vines on the Praelatenberg (litt. "Prelates hill"). This lieu-dit is attested since 823.

In Dahlenheim and Scharrachbergheim, a charter pointed for the first time to the vineyard of the Engelberg in 884.[6]

In Wintzenheim in the 9th century, a gift from the abbey of Murbach cited the Hengst for the first time. The lords of Hohlandsbourg and the bailiff of Kayserberg shared its feodal rignts until the French Revolution.

Between 1000 and Renaissance, each other Alsacian lieux-dits has been owned or a fief of the nobility or the clergy. The wealth or the alsacian cartularies and charter-binders would only be erudites treat if it hadn't formed the historical basis of the delimitation of the Alsace grands crus lieux-dits.


The status of Alsace wine region is a case apart within the French wine regions.

After 1919's Treaty of Versailles and Alsace's return into France, German law mainly remained force in this previously Reichsland as local law, introduced as soon as 1919 and legalized in 1924. This situation held up the recognition of Alsace wines.[7]

After the ordonnance of 1945 defining the designation of origin of Alsacian wines came in 1962 the decree relating to the use of such designations: the appellation d'origine contrôlée Alsace was born. Nevertheless, neither the ordonnance nor the decree contained a word about geographical designations or an allusion to crus.

The situation began to evolve with a decree in 1975 which created the designation "alsace grand cru". Its first article makes clear that wines have first to meet the AOC Alsace-rules. Then, a decree in 1983 designated 25 lieux-dits to join the grands crus d'Alsace.

In 1985, the INAO accepted a new folder to increase the alsace grands crus list. The same year, a decree added 25 new names.

Meanwhile, these texts have been modified. In 1984 were vendange tardive and sélection de grains nobles introduced; in 1993 was Rouffach admitted in the Vorbourg lieu-dit; 2001 saw the maximal yield reduced; 2005 saw exceptions allowed to vine planting and 2007 the fifty-first member of the Alsacian elite vineyards.


Alsace grands crus are produced in north-eastern France, in the region Alsace, on the territory of 47 communes (14 in Bas-Rhin and 33 in Haut-Rhin), from Marlenheim at northern end, westward from Strasbourg, to Thann at southern end, westward from Mulhouse.

Geology and orography[edit]

Alsace plain occupies the south part of the Upper Rhine Plain, which formed from a collapse during the Oligocene and is followed since the Miocene by the river Rhine. The vineyard stays on the lower slopes of the Vosges Mountains, on the fault zone of the graben, covered by alluvial fans of the many rivers and creeks flowing from the nearby heights. This explains the variety of the subsurface materials and their succession forming a true mosaic: limestones, granites, shales, gneiss or sandstones.

Mainly, the upper part of the slopes of the subvosgian hills consists of old rocks: plutons and metamorphic rocks like granite, gneiss or slate. Vine-planted parcels are rather steep and climb up to 478 m height (near Osenbach). The lower part of the slopes consists of layers of limestones or marls covered by loess where the slope is rather smooth.

Endly, the plain consists of a thick layer of alluvium deposited by the Rhine (silt and gravels). This zone is very more fertile than the two previous with an important aquifer mainly close to the surface (less than 5 m deep): the Upper Rhine aquifer.

Such differences between a place and another allow each Grand Cru to benefit from a particular terroir, even more differentiated by the climate.


Means of temperature and precipitation near Strasbourg (1949-2001)

On the western side, the Vosges Mountains shield the Alsacian vineyards from wind and rain. Dominating western winds loose their moisture on the eastern side of the Vosges and arrive as foehn winds into the Alsace plain. The precipitation mean in Alsace is the least of all French vineyards and Colmar one of the dryest towns of France.

Consequently, the climate is more temperated than expected at this latitude: the annual mean temperature is about 1.5 °C higher. The climate is semi-continental and dry with hot springs, sunny and dry summers, long autumns and cold winters.

Each of the Grands Crus benefits from a microclimate, inevitably different from place to place.

Allowed varieties[edit]

As of 2011, all wines are white and can be produced from the noble Alsace varieties: Riesling, Muscat, Pinot gris and Gewürztraminer grapes. In 2006 Zotzenberg became the first Grand Cru vineyard that could contain pure Sylvaner.[8] Except for certain vineyards where blends are allowed, the wines must be exclusively made using a single variety and may be labelled as such. They can be late harvest wines: Vendange tardive or Sélection de Grains Nobles. In that case, the variety must be labelled.

If Muscat is labelled, it means that any of the allowed Muscat varieties has been used (see table below). However, it doesn't mean that blends of these varieties are allowed.[2]

Vineyards where blends are allowed[edit]

In some Grand Cru vineyards, blends are allowed, which may also include some non-noble grapes.[2] In Alsace, blends have usually been associated with wines of simpler quality. The producer primarily associated with high-quality blends is Marcel Deiss.

Grand Cru vineyard Option 1: Only one
of these varieties.
Option 2: These varieties in certain proportions.
Varietal labelling not allowed.
Altenberg de Bergheim Gewürztraminer, Pinot gris, Riesling 50-70% Riesling, 10-25% Pinot gris, 10-25% Gewürztraminer;
Up to 10% total of Pinot blanc, Pinot noir, Muscat Ottonel, Muscat blanc à petits grains, Muscat rose à petits grain, Chasselas if these varieties were planted before 26 March 2005.
Kaefferkopf Gewürztraminer, Pinot gris, Riesling 60-80% Gewürztraminer, 10-40% Riesling, 0-30% Pinot gris;
Up to 10% total of Muscat Ottonel, Muscat blanc à petits grains, Muscat rose à petits grains.

List of Alsace Grands Crus[edit]

Grand Cru vineyards (lieux-dits) with their commune(s)/village(s), département, size and the date it was granted Grand Cru status. Where the same name is used for several vineyards, its official name is "vineyard" de "village", such as Altenberg de Bergbieten, Altenberg de Bergheim or Altenberg de Wolxheim.

Map of the Alsace wine region and its wine villages. Grand Cru vineyards are indicated in red.
Vineyard Village Département Size (Hectares) Date granted Grand Cru status
Altenberg de Bergbieten Bergbieten[9] Bas-Rhin 29.07[9] 23 November 1983
Altenberg de Bergheim Bergheim[10] Haut-Rhin 35.06[10] 23 November 1983
Altenberg de Wolxheim Wolxheim[11] Bas-Rhin 31.20[11] 17 December 1992
Brand Turckheim[12] Haut-Rhin 57.95[12] 23 November 1983
Bruderthal Molsheim[13] Bas-Rhin 18.40[13] 17 December 1992
Eichberg Eguisheim[14] Haut-Rhin 57.62[14] 23 November 1983
Engelberg Dahlenheim, Scharrachbergheim[15] Bas-Rhin 14.80[15] 17 December 1992
Florimont Ingersheim, Katzenthal[16] Haut-Rhin 21[16] 17 December 1992
Frankstein Dambach-la-Ville[17] Bas-Rhin 56.20[17] 17 December 1992
Froehn Zellenberg[18] Haut-Rhin 14.60[18] 17 December 1992
Furstentum Kientzheim, Sigolsheim[19] Haut-Rhin 30.50[19] 17 December 1992
Geisberg Ribeauville[20] Haut-Rhin 8.53[20] 23 November 1983
Gloeckelberg Rodern, Saint-Hippolyte[21] Haut-Rhin 23.40[21] 23 November 1983
Goldert Gueberschwihr[22] Haut-Rhin 45.35[22] 23 November 1983
Hatschbourg Hattstatt, Voegtlinshoffen[23] Haut-Rhin 47.36[23] 23 November 1983
Hengst Wintzenheim[24] Haut-Rhin 75.78[24] 23 November 1983
Kaefferkopf Ammerschwihr[25] Haut-Rhin 71.65[25] 12 January 2007
Kanzlerberg Bergheim[26] Haut-Rhin 3.23[26] 23 November 1983
Kastelberg Andlau[27] Bas-Rhin 5.82[27] 23 November 1983
Kessler Guebwiller[28] Haut-Rhin 28.53[28] 23 November 1983
Kirchberg de Barr Barr[29] Bas-Rhin 40.63[29] 23 November 1983
Kirchberg de Ribeauvillé Ribeauville[30] Haut-Rhin 11.40[30] 23 November 1983
Kitterlé Guebwiller[31] Haut-Rhin 25.79[31] 23 November 1983
Mambourg Sigolsheim[32] Haut-Rhin 61.85[32] 17 December 1992
Mandelberg Mittelwihr, Beblenheim[33] Haut-Rhin 22[33] 17 December 1992
Marckrain Bennwihr, Sigolsheim[34] Haut-Rhin 53.35[34] 17 December 1992
Moenchberg Andlau, Eichhoffen[35] Bas-Rhin 11.83[35] 23 November 1983
Muenchberg Nothalten[36] Bas-Rhin 17.70[36] 17 December 1992
Ollwiller Wuenheim[37] Haut-Rhin 35.86[37] 23 November 1983
Osterberg Ribeauvillé[38] Haut-Rhin 24.60[38] 17 December 1992
Pfersigberg Eguisheim, Wettolsheim[39] Haut-Rhin 74.55[39] 17 December 1992
Pfingstberg Orschwihr[40] Haut-Rhin 28.15[40] 17 December 1992
Praelatenberg Kintzheim[41] Bas-Rhin 18.70[41] 17 December 1992
Rangen Thann, Vieux-Thann[42] Haut-Rhin 22.13[42] 23 November 1983
Rosacker Hunawihr[43] Haut-Rhin 26.18[43] 23 November 1983
Saering Guebwiller[44] Haut-Rhin 26.75[44] 23 November 1983
Schlossberg Kientzheim[45] Haut-Rhin 80.28[45] 20 November 1975
Schoenenbourg Riquewihr, Zellenberg[46] Haut-Rhin 53.40[46] 17 December 1992
Sommerberg Niedermorschwihr, Katzenthal[47] Haut-Rhin 28.36[47] 23 November 1983
Sonnenglanz Beblenheim[48] Haut-Rhin 32.80[48] 23 November 1983
Spiegel Bergholtz, Guebwiller[49] Haut-Rhin 18.26[49] 23 November 1983
Sporen Riquewihr[50] Haut-Rhin 23.70[50] 17 December 1992
Steinert Pfaffenheim, Westhalten[51] Haut-Rhin 38.90[51] 17 December 1992
Steingrubler Wettolsheim[52] Haut-Rhin 22.95[52] 17 December 1992
Steinklotz Marlenheim[53] Bas-Rhin 40.60[53] 17 December 1992
Vorbourg Rouffach, Westhalten[54] Haut-Rhin 73.61[54] 17 December 1992
Wiebelsberg Andlau[55] Bas-Rhin 12.52[55] 23 November 1983
Wineck-Schlossberg Katzenthal, Ammerschwihr[56] Haut-Rhin 27.40[56] 17 December 1992
Winzenberg Blienschwiller[57] Bas-Rhin 19.20[57] 17 December 1992
Zinnkoepflé Soultzmatt, Westhalten[58] Haut-Rhin 71.03[58] 17 December 1992
Zotzenberg Mittelbergheim[59] Bas-Rhin 36.45[59] 17 December 1992

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Larousse Encyclopedia of Wine, Ed. C. Foulkes, p. 226
  2. ^ a b c INAO: AOC Alsace Grand Cru regulations, updated until September 28, 2007 (in French), retrieved 2011-04-22.
  3. ^ INAO: AOC Alsace regulations, updated until January 14, 2007 (in French), retrieved 2011-04-19
  4. ^ CIVA English-language press announcement on February 6, 2007: A 51st named vineyard is awarded the AOC Alsace Grand Cru status
  5. ^ Gregory of Tours, who wrote that Childebert II, the king of the Austrasian Franks, owned them in 589, gave the first written indication on the Alsacian vineyard.
  6. ^ Three centuries later, it was owned by the canon chapter of the collegiate church of Strasbourg.
  7. ^ The preamble of the ordonnance n° 45-2675 of 2 November 1945 relating to the definition of the designation of origin of Alsacian wines (in French) shows the many prior regulations taken into account.
  8. ^ Kakaviatos, Panos (2006-09-05). "Sylvaner becomes grand cru grape". Decanter. Retrieved 2007-04-30. 
  9. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Altenberg de Bergbieten" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  10. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Altenberg de Bergheim" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  11. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Altenberg de Wolxheim" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  12. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Brand" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  13. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Bruderthal" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  14. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Eichberg" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  15. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Engelberg" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  16. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Florimont" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  17. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Frankstein" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  18. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Froehn" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  19. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Furstentum" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  20. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Geisberg" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  21. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Gloeckelberg" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  22. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Goldert" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  23. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Hatschbourg" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  24. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Hengst" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  25. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Kaefferkopf" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  26. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Kanzlerberg" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  27. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Kastelberg" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  28. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Kessler" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  29. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Kirchberg de Barr" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  30. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Kirchberg de Ribeauvillé" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  31. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Kitterlé" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  32. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Mambourg" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  33. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Mandelberg" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  34. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Marckrain" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  35. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Moenchberg" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  36. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Muenchberg" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  37. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Ollwiller" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  38. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Osterberg" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  39. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Pfersigberg" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  40. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Pfingstberg" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  41. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Praelatenberg" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  42. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Rangen" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  43. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Rosacker" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  44. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Saering" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  45. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Schlossberg" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  46. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Schoenenbourg" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  47. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Sommerberg" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  48. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Sonnenglanz" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  49. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Spiegel" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  50. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Sporen" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  51. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Steinert" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  52. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Steingrubler" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  53. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Steinklotz" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  54. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Vorbourg" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  55. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Wiebelsberg" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  56. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Wineck-Schlossberg" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  57. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Winzenberg" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  58. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Zinnkoepflé" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  59. ^ a b "Vins Alsace - Zotzenberg" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-25. 

External links[edit]