Sylvaner from Alsace

November 7, 2008 by · 3 Comments 

2007 Vin de Alsace, Sylvaner, France, 12%, €15.90 (in a Paris corner shop). (That’s about C$24.)

My Mom is a white wine lover and I picked up this bottle to share with her on our last night in Paris. It was just the very thing for the occasion. Refreshing with just a hint of sweet that allowed it to be enjoyed without any food.

In case you’ve never heard of Sylvaner, it’s a cool climate grape known best in Alsace (an important French wine-producing region, but not one we visited on this trip) and in Germany. It does best in cool climates, but is not as well known as other cool-climate white grapes such as Riesling, Pinot Gris, Muscat, or Gewurztraminer.

A Sylvaner fact for you: in 2006 a vineyard called Zotzenberg stepped up and was recognized by the French appellation authority (a very stern bunch of bureaucrats) as a grand cru (meaning first growth: a snobby French way of designating top vineyards). Before 2006 only the other four aforementioned cool-climate white grapes were authorized to be called grand crus.

If you want to try out the grape a little closer to home, pick up a bottle of 2007 Domaine de Chaberton, Madeleine Sylvaner. It’s a crisp, dry and on the acidic side which would make it a great dinner pairing with creamy pastas or lemony fish. It’s from the Fraser Valley, 100-mile diet approved for Vancouverites and will only run you $12.99 at Village Wines.

For more ideas about French wines, read over the France by the Glass wine list.