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Trip to Alsace


#1

Hi,

I booked our annual wine trip with a couple of friends to Alsace. Its just the weekend, but we will have a car and drive up from Basel.

  1. What are some good wineries to visit? We prefer Indy smaller, natural style wines - Riesling and Pinot Noir.

  2. What is a good base for visits on the weekend? We usually stay in a wine B&B but it seems that staying in Colmar might be good as it has proximity to restaurants etc.

Its in early Nov but I am sure we will have a lovely time!

Thanks


#2

Where to start! First of all, early November should still be lovely. The vineyards and mountains look at their absolute best in the autumn - it’s a great time to visit. Our next visit is in three weeks, and I can’t wait.

Colmar would be a good base, and close to lots of places to taste and see. What’s your budget for wine, and do you speak French?

I would definitely visit Eguisheim, on the Saturday. It’s a very pretty village, and while busy, less insane than Riquewihr or Kaysersberg. Bruno Sorg is always our first port of call for first time visitors to Alsace. They have excellent wine at a good price, and very welcoming. Lots of other wineries there too, and good food - try Aux Vieux Porche or Auberge Des Trois Chateaux to eat. Paul Ginglinger and Paul Zinck are also worth a visit, and Léon Beyer at a higher price point have superb wines, especially riesling, in a very dry style. You need to go to the shop in the village centre, not the winery.

For pinot noir round there, you could also go up the hill to Husseren Les Chateaux and visit Kuentz-Bas.

Sunday is trickier in that most wineries are shut, although you can sometimes make reservations. Ribeauvillé is a good bet, and Louis Sipp open on Sundays and have a good range. They speak English, too, if that’s important to you. Lots of good food in Ribeauvillé as well, and a nice walk up to the castles if the weather is nice. Hugel in Riquewihr is just up the road, and also open on Sunday. Of the big names, they are by far our favourite place to taste. You are quite likely to get a family member, and Riquewihr is ridiculously pretty.

For somewhere a bit different, with a sweeter style but stunning wines at very good prices, you could try Ernest Burn in Gueberschwihr. The website says they open on Sunday from 3-6, but they are in a different direction.

Other current favourites near to Colmar are Mittnacht Frères at Hunawihr
Kientzler at Ribeauvillé. You can’t go wrong at either.

Most places now do a pinot noir. As I say, we like Kuentz Bas. Marcel Deiss’s is very different and in a different league. They are at the upper end of prices, and charge for a tasting unless you buy, but the Vins de Terroir are also unique. You won’t get a typical picture of Alsace wine there, though, and they are closed on Sundays.

That’s really just scratched the surface. We’ve visited upwards of 50 wineries, and there are so many good ones - you’ll have a great time!


#3

There is absoutely nothing of value I can add to @robertd’s excellent summary, other than to wholeheartedly agree that Colmar is a perfect base - a beautiful town, where you will be spoilt for choice in terms of places to eat, drink and watch the world go by.

Also totally agree with:

We had a splendid tasting there in April - so many wines were opened for us, we were totally spoilt! It was an opportunity to do a comparative tasting of their different bottlings (Classic, Estate, Traditional and the awesome Grossi LaĂĽe), of all major varieties. Highly recommended! :heart_eyes:

Incidentally, we loved their Pinot Noir (both the Classic and the wonderful 2013 Grossi LaĂĽe).

As @robertd said - Riquewihr is utterly beautiful; like stepping into a medieval fairytale… But extremely busy with tourists, so be prepared. We took refuge for a bit in the Hansi museum, which tells of the life and art of Jean-Jacques Waltz - probably the most iconic Alsatian artist (who, incidentally, designed the Hugel winery sign, which still hangs there). A recommended bit of diversion from wine, if you need such a thing! :wink:

By the way, we actually walked from Colmar to Eguisheim a lovely, and very doable, two hour walk. Its circular maze of streets are fun to get lost in (and you always end up in the same spot!). Thumbs up for Bruno Sorg wines from us too!

Have a fab trip! :+1::smile:


#4

You have had all the best advice from @robertd. In terms of Eguisheim my only addition would be a mention for the Meyers
https://www.vins-meyer-eguisheim.com/

Their wines are not in the same class as those mentioned by Robert. On the other hand you can buy lots for a good price! I would commend their Vielles Vignes and Grand Cru ranges. And you could also stay there as they have rooms, either bnb or self catering. We did bnb and the breakfast was served in the tasting room.

We discovered their winery and rooms because a local wine merchant stocks their Pinot Blanc which we like very much. We had a great time, and there is someone there who speaks English too.


#5

Thank you for all the splendid recommendations. This gives me enough to make the initial plan, after which I may come back with more questions.

In terms of price ranges, I aim to bring back 10-12 bottles:

  • 3-4 relatively affordable 8-12 euro

  • 3-4 mid-price 15-20 euro

  • 2-3 nice bottles to store/special occasion - 25-30 euro max

Although I like red better, I think it will be 60/40 white to red split.

Are there any co-ops worth visiting?


#6

I haven’t visited either - but regularly enjoy the wines of Cave de Turckheim (possibly one of the best Co-ops in general??) and Cave de Ribeauvillé, so I reckon they’re a good place to visit. I’m sure @robertd will be able to give you actual info about visiting them.


#7

You have enough to keep you busy for a week, not a weekend, here, but:
as a place to stay, think also about St Hippolyte, north of Riquewihr, smaller than Colmar, but with more than enough restaurants for a weekend. Aux Ducs de Lorraine good as hotel and restaurant.

Producers: definitely include Rolly Gassmann, in Rorschwihr (N of Riquewihr, S of St Hippolyte). Excellent wine of course, and very hospitable tasting room. No website, like many of the smaller producers, but according to the May price list Mon-Sat 9.30-12, 13.30 to 18; and 2nd and 4th Sundays, 10-12, 14-18, but I wouldn’t count on this in November.
5 Pinots Noirs on the list, and innumerable Rieslings.

Another small producer, moving towards natural, Jean Becker in Zellenberg.

Keep an eye out for any special openings/walks etc. when you get there. A few years ago, a notice on the Riquewihr Hotel de Ville offered a wine walk with a producer at 10 on a Sunday morning, and this was an excellent morning, ending in his very cramped cellar.

Can you take all of us with you?


#8

My sentiment entirely! :sunglasses:


#9

Have you tried much Alsace red before? If not, I’d suggest you try before you buy, and be prepared to adjust those proportions.

I’d hate to diss it, and understand it has improved recently, but it is really not the focus of attention in Alsace. However, if it floats your boat, who am I to argue?


#10

Agree about Cave de Turckheim. Not the greatest wines, but competent, forward-looking, reliably good and decent value.

Also an easy place to visit - in the sense that you just rock up and there is a large tasting area/shop to wander round. I’m not sure how easy it is to look around the production facilities.


#11

Couldn’t put it better myself! And as not every bottle of wine can offer a moment of epiphany (most don’t) - I love their reliability. The most recent one I had was this one, purchased on a whim, from Sainsbury’s:

https://www.sainsburys.co.uk/shop/gb/groceries/all-wine/cave-de-turckheim-alsace-collection-terroirs-riesling-750ml-7955217-p


#12

Funnily enough, we haven’t actually visited either Cave de Turckheim or Ribeauvillé. Agree about the wines from both. Ribeauvillé is the oldest wine coop in France, and definitely on our radar since we found out about their Clos du Zahnacker monopole field blend.

Wolfberger in Eguisheim is the biggest, and also has a large tasting room (they have a number, up and down Alsace, but started in Eguisheim) Their crémant is very acceptable. Cave Vinicole de Hunawihr makes decent wine, but we have found the service to be variable. Dopff & Irion in Riquewihr is actually part of the Pfaffenheim Coop, and their riesling Les Murailles is jolly good. Cave de Beblenheim also makes good, straightforward wines - never visited, but Waitrose stock them.

Lots of coop choice. We’ve tended to family producers, though - it just feels more connected and personal.


#13

I have to agree with @SteveSlatcher that you may want to rethink your proposed proportions. Alsace pinot noir is definitely improving, but the glory of the region remains firmly its still whites. If you’re only there for a weekend, I’d concentrate on those.


#14

Very nicely put! Probably the most welcoming warehouse you’ll ever go to, and always busy, for good reason. Having said which, by November, they should be in their new premises, up the hill, which promise to be very different (panoramic views of the vineyards), though we were assured that the tastings would be the same as ever. Lots of wines to taste, and heroic amounts of residual sugar!


#15

Actually another one which comes to mind is Le Domaine Viticole de la Ville de Colmar. We bought a very nice PG from Hengst and a pleasant NV Cremant d’Alsace rose from their shop in Colmar - which is nice and offers some very affordable everyday wines.


#16

If you only go to one producer, go to Josmeyer.


#17

Hi,

Thanks for all the wonderful recommendations - this is enough to make the itinerary for the 2 days. The family run wineries will dominate Saturday and a few co-op’s (and wineries open on Sunday)

Also noted on the white/red mix, it seems whites are the way to go. Do any of the above producers produce a decent Crement?

I wanted to get people’s opinion on staying in Colmar vs. Eguisheim?

We are 3 friends who do annual wine trips to different regions. We will be flying into Basel Friday night, so arriving a bit late. Usually we stay at a vineyard B&B (like a fantastic one in Langudeoc last year), however as we are 3 it may be difficult to find B&B with a triple room. So it will most likely have to be AirB&B.

Ideally as we are driving all day to wineries in the evening we would like to me within walkable distance of a restaurant and perhaps a wine bar so we can all freely drink. I know Colmar has a very nice wine bar (Le Cercle Des Aromes), both have very good restaurants with wine and Alsatian food.

Thanks!


#18

Sorry, I cannot help more with the wine side of things, but be careful with car hire at Basel airport. There are two exits from the airport, into France and Switzerland respectively. You should ensure that you get car hire on the French side of the airport.

I was told that is cheaper on the French side. Additionally, some information on the web said that it is illegal for EU citizens (if you will be at the time) to drive a Swiss registered car in the EU - something to do with closing a tax loophole I think. It is perhaps unlikely you will be stopped, but someone doing it reported being pulled-over at the border, and required to buy a temporary permit.

Also, check when the office of your proposed car hire company closes, and make alternative arrangement to pick up the key if needed. Ours closed surprisingly early on Saturday evening, and very nearly resulted in extra charges, but after an exchange of emails they were waived as they were not mentioned on our booking site.


#19

Bruno Sorg, LĂ©on Beyer, Wolfberger (good, but not special). LĂ©on Beyer probably my favourite.


#20

Agree with all of @Inbar’s. Mittnacht Frères also do a good one. Lots of places make them now - try them and see which one you like.