The Alsace Grand Cru Protected Designation of Origin (AOP) label is given to the wines fulfilling particularly strict quality criteria, notably in terms of the definition of terroir, natural richness, an enjoyable consumption…
It is mandatory for the label to indicate, in addition to the grape (only Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Muscat are permitted), the year, one of the fifty Grand Cru, and one of the specified lieux-dits (vineyards) awarded this appellation. As much as the grape it is the characteristics of the terroir that makes each Alsace Grand Cru wine unique.
Currently the Château d’Orschwihr has five Grands Crus located between Westhalten and Thann with a wide variety of soils. They enable us to produce varied as well as typical wines.
To the north of Guebwiller, at an altitude of 300 to 390 m, the vineyards on the eastern side of the hill of Unterlinger are on a relatively steep and consistent slope of 28.5 hectares. As it name suggests at the heart of the Kessler there is a small south-east facing valley which shelters it from the northern winds and the currents of cold air brought by the Guebwiller valley.
The soil largely sits on a Bundstandstein Vosgian sandstone substrate which gives the sandy-clay its reddish colour. At the foot of the hill a linear chalk Muschelkalk outcrop covers sandstone colluviums and produces more clay like, compacted and red soils, without noticeably changing the homogeneity of the lieu-dit.
The nature of the soil is ideal for growing Riesling which develops in acidity and mineral sophistication.
Pfingstberg is a pretty hillside at an altitude of 300 m which dominates the village of Orschwihr. This Grand Cru is spread over a south-east facing area of 28.15 hectares. Its upper parts sit on a chalky sandstone and micaceous sandstone substrate (Muschelkalk at the bottom and Bundsandstein at the summit).
As such the soil has more of a clay-sandstone texture in the lower parts. This geological peculiarity has given rise to a distinct name: Pfingstberg and Lippelsberg. The steep terroir slop made it necessary to build terraces consolidated with sandstone-brick walls.
The Château d’Orschwihr’s Grand Cru sits on the Bundsandstein sandstone chalk. We are spoiled by its fantastic Vendanges Tardives Rieslings and sublime Tokay Pinot Gris from Sélections de Grains Nobles. Its long aging guarantees its success as it ages very well indeed.
To the north of Guebwiller and on the way out from the Lauch Valley the Kitterlé makes the shape of a spur on the Unterlinger massif. It therefore has different types of sun exposure, south, south-east and south-west and is on a very steep slope.
Extremely well sheltered from the northern winds there is a remarkable amount of sun exposure and the Kitterlé occupies a unique position in Alsace. It has an area of 25.79 hectares and an altitude between 270 and 360 m.
Its substrate is made of Vosgian sandstone grit and medium Brandsandstein quartzite agglomerate. Towards the summit levels of fine grain micaceous sandstone and clay lenses are, at times, interbedded. On the western extremity the volcanic sandstone soil belongs to the carboniferous greywacke. With a sandstone substrate which is geologically similar to the granitic terroirs, (the same acidic and sandy characteristics) the sandstone terroirs have fairly different characteristics: more acidity in the soil and therefore a more pronounced acidity in the mouth.
Sandstone soils are less prone to drought during hot years and warm up quickly with the slightest ray of sunshine. Located just under the rocky spur the Château’s Kitterlé benefits from a very mature sandstone terroir.
A little less aromatic, the wines that are produced from these terroirs require more time to blossom. Six to eight years in the bottle does them a great deal of good and consequently they will give off a very complex spicy aroma (cinnamon, nutmeg, white pepper).
Rangen is the most southern and one of the highest Alsatian vineyards at an altitude of 330 to 467 m. It belongs to the villages of Thann and Vieux-Thann. The slopes of the south-facing Rangen mountain are very steep, which is where its name comes from, (Rangen means very steep in German) and it overhangs the river Thur. This mystical vineyard is the only one in Alsace with volcanic rock. Equally Thann is the only Alsatian village that can boast that all of its vineyards (22 hectares) are classed as Grand Cru. This Grand Cru is planted with Riesling and Pinot Gris.
It is made up of siliceous rock and basic lava which together make for a very fertile soil. The terroir is characterised by dark stony jointed rock which stores heat very well.
The Rangen’s proximity to a river, the Thur, and the staggering steepness of the Grand Cru contribute to the creation of a micro-climate which enables noble rot to occur, especially in the lower parts of the vineyard by the river.
Its wines have a unique aromatic strength! They are veritable vins de garde. Riesling has a very elegant and fine fruit; Pinot Gris is strong and classically elegant.
On a majestic hillside, with rugged and ragged south and south-east facing slopes, this Grand Cru dominates the picturesque and welcoming noble Valley which is known as Vallis Praenobilis (the highly noble valley) in ancient texts. It is located between 300 and 420 m above the village of Soultzmatt and Westhalten and covers an area of 68.40 hectares.
This raised vineyard, with a hot and arid microclimate, is in a very advantageous position; sheltered from the wind and precipitation and by virtue of its altitude it is practically the Mediterranean and Caspian flora and fauna summit.
The name “Zinnkoepfle” comes from “Sonne Koepflé” or “Sonne Arle;” the local name given to small circular marine fossils.
It is a Triassic calcareous-sandstone soil. On this predominantly Mushchelkalk terroir the Zinnkoepflé’s shell limestone and the low rainfall (270 mm during the growing season, owing to the protection from the Petit and Grand Ballon in particular) produce highly fragrant and spicy wines full of fire, especially the Gewurztraminer.
Paradoxically Riesling emerges with great finesse and in discrete harmony. Pleasant in their youth the Zinnkoepflé Grands Crus, with their extraordinaire maturing capacities, take one by surprise and are therefore naturally knows as very great vins de garde and gastronomic wines.
 Late harvest wine.
 Sweet botryized wine.
 Results in grapes of high sugar concentration.