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DISCOVER Sweet Alsace wines: pleasure in a bottle!

Moelleux (medium-sweet), liquoreux (sweet), Vendanges Tardives (late harvests), Sélections de Grains Nobles (botrytised wines)… When you’re looking for a sweet wine, it is important to know its characteristics. In Alsace, we are spoilt for choice with this category of wine.

DEMI-SEC, MEDIUM-SWEET OR SWEET?

Wines are categorised according to the quantity of residual sugar (which has not been turned into alcohol) that they contain, in grams.

This gives the following classification:

  • Sec (dry): 4 g/l maximum
  • Demi-sec: between 4 g/l and 12 g/l of sugar
  • Moelleux (medium-sweet): between 12 g/l and 45 g/l of sugar
  • Liquoreux (or sweet): at least 45 g/l of sugar, without an upper limit

When we talk of sweet wines, we therefore mainly mean medium-sweet and sweet. Various techniques are used, and conditions required (notably the weather) for crafting sweet wines: in Alsace, our main types are Vendanges Tardives (Late Harvest), Sélection de Grains Nobles (botrytised wines) and Vins de Glace (ice wine).

VENDANGES TARDIVES

Vendanges Tardives (Late Harvest) refers to a method of vinification that is very strictly regulated in Alsace. To obtain this appellation, the following conditions must be complied with:

  • The grapes must have a minimum potential alcohol level of 14.4% at harvest.
  • They must be hand-picked.
  • Only the Gewurztraminer, Muscat, Pinot Gris and Riesling varieties are allowed.
  • The wine must not be blended.
  • The bottle must indicate the name of the grape variety as well as the year
  • No chaptalisation is allowed.

The grapes used to produce Vendanges Tardives are harvested when they are over-ripe. They are left on the vine for several weeks after the “conventional” harvest to slowly dry out in the wind and autumn sunshine. The sugar content can then become as high as 270 g per litre!

SÉLECTION DE GRAINS NOBLES  

To obtain the Sélections de Grains Nobles (Botrytised or Noble Rot wines) designation, the technique is very different from that used for Late Harvest wines. In this case, the over-ripe grapes must be affected by Botrytis Cinerea, commonly known as noble rot. This develops only in very specific weather conditions: misty mornings followed by sunny afternoons.

Once picked, the grapes are successively sorted by hand. The specifications are the same as for the Vendanges Tardives, but the Sélections de Grains Nobles have a higher sugar content.

VINS DE GLACE

Produced from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine, vins de glace (ice wines) are rare and exceptional. The temperature must reach -7°C before these grapes can be harvested and pressed. Ice wines are therefore only produced in years when the weather is suitable.

Discover our selection of sweet wines and let yourself be tempted by these heavenly nectars!

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