Alsace was the last of the major French wine-producing regions to become part of the Appellation Contrôlée system in 1962.
Appellation Alsace Contrôlée
This appellation is the basic designation which is normally qualified by one of the grape varieties planted in Alsace (Sylvaner, Pinot Blanc, Muscat, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer & Pinot Noir).
Appellation Alsace Grand Cru Contrôlée
Since 1975, 50 individual vineyards have gained the status ” Grand Cru “. To achieve Grand Cru status, the wine must be made from one of four ”noble” grape varieties : Riesling, Muscat, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer. The maximum yield is 60 hl/ha. The minimum natural potential alcohol must be 10% for Riesling and Muscat, 12 % for Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer.
Appellation Alsace Crémant Contrôlée
In 1976 was created the status of AOC Crémant d’Alsace by the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine. Alsace sparkling wines are made by traditional method, mainly from Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir (for rosé). The varietals are picked first, at the very beginning of the harvest, when the grapes reach their optimum maturity.
Vendanges Tardives et Sélection de Grains Nobles
Two further classifications of Alsace wine, which may be applied to either basic or Grand Cru level wines, have been controlled by law since 1983.
Selection of noble grapes
These wines must be made from one of the 4 ”noble” grape varieties (Riesling, Muscat, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris) from a strict picking of grapes attacked by the ”noble rot” (botrytis cinerea) in exceptional vintages. The minimum sugar level is : 256 g/l, i.e. 15.2° for Riesling and Muscat ; 279 g/l, ie. 16.6° for Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer. Chaptalisation (adding sugar during fermentation) is forbidden, only the natural grape sugar from the grapes can be fermented.