Alsace Grand Cru AOC

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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]

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

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, a wine must first meet the Alsace AOC rules and then other strict requirements. For example, the yield of the vineyards has to be 55 hectoliters per hectare or less, the wine has to come from a single named vineyard (called a lieu-dit in Alsace) of Grand Cru status, and the name of the vineyard must be on the label.

As of 2018, 51 lieux-dits are listed as Grand Cru, the latest addition being Kaefferkopf of Ammerschwihr in January 2007.[4]


Middle AgeEdit

In Alsace, the concept of cru vineyards 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 from the vines of the Vorbourg.

In Bennwihr in 777, the missi dominici passing through Alsace reported favorably to Charlemagne on the quality of Beno Villare ("Beno's domain") wines from 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 ("Prelates hill"). This lieu-dit has been farmed since 823.

In Dahlenheim and Scharrachbergheim, a charter declared a high quality vineyard of the Engelberg in 884.[6]

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

Between 1000 and the Renaissance, other Alsatian lieux-dits have been owned by the nobility or the clergy. The wealth of the Alsatian charter-binders formed the historical basis for the delimitation of the Alsace Grands Crus lieux-dits.


The Alsace wine region is distinct from other French wine regions.

After the 1919 Treaty of Versailles and the return of Alsace into France, German law in this previous Reichsland was largely retained as local law. This situation held up the recognition of Alsace wines.[7]

A 1945 local ordinance designating the origin of Alsatian wines was used as the basis for the 1962 decree establishing the Alsace AOC. Neither the ordinance 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 Alsace AOC rules. Then, a decree in 1983 designated an additional 25 lieux-dits.

In 1985, the INAO agreed to an increase in the Alsace Grands Crus list. The same year, a decree added 25 new names.

In 1984, the Vendange Tardive and Sélection de Grains Nobles designations were introduced. In 1993, Rouffach was admitted in the Vorbourg lieu-dit. In 2001, the maximal yield was reduced. In 2005, exceptions to vine planting were allowed. The most recent additions were in 2007, bringing the total to 51 grand cru 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 orographyEdit

The 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: limestone, granite, shale, gneiss or sandstone.

Mainly, the upper part of the slopes of the sub-Vosge hills consists of old rocks: pluton 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 limestone or marl covered by loess where the slope is rather smooth.

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

Such differences 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 Alsatian vineyards from wind and rain. Predominately western winds lose 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 wine regions. Colmar is one of the driest cities in France.

Consequently, the climate is more temperate 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 varietiesEdit

As of 2011, Alsace Grand Cru wines can only be produced using one of four white grape varieties: Riesling, Muscat, Pinot gris and Gewürztraminer. In 2006, Zotzenberg became the only Grand Cru vineyard that could produce wine from 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. Late harvest wines must be labelled by grape variety. For Muscat-labelled wines, only one of the allowed Muscat varieties can be used (see table below).[2]

Vineyards where blends are allowedEdit

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 lesser 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 CrusEdit

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 alsoEdit


  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. Archived from the original on 2009-08-16. 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 linksEdit