The wines of the Haut-Rhin from Turckheim to Guebwiller
By Sue Style
This Guide was last updated on 14 March 2011
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The Rangen vineyard on the steep hill above the town of Thann is ideal for a walk through the vineyards.
© Mick Rock/Cephas.
This southernmost micro-region takes a sweep from Turckheim south to Guebwiller along the Route des Vins, which is synonymous for much of its length with the N83. You can make your base in Colmar or in one of the winegrowing villages, their gorgeous, half-timbered, gingerbread houses alight in summer with tumbling geraniums and petunias. Some of the most beautiful villages are Turckheim, Eguisheim, Rouffach and Guebwiller; top growers here include Zind-Humbrecht, Léon Beyer, René Muré and Domaines Schlumberger.
The further south you go, the more spaced out the vines and the villages. At the southernmost end of the Route des Vins is the little town of Thann. There are no domaines here, but the legendary Rangen vineyard (of which Zind-Humbrecht has a goodly chunk) rises up above the town and is worth a visit, as is the Collégiale, the beautiful medieval church with its impressively sculpted west door. To keep any non-wine tasters in the party happy, you could continue to Mulhouse for three outstanding museums: the Musée de l’Automobile which houses the Schlumpf veteran car collection, the Musée du Chemin de Fer for railway buffs, and the recently revamped Musée de l’Impression sur Etoffes which chronicles Mulhouse’s distinguished history as a noted textile centre.
Alsace, in the northeast of France, is flanked by the Vosges Mountains to the west and the Rhine to the east. This region is one of the driest in France; protected by the Vosges, its climate is semi-continental with very cold winters, hot summers and long sunny autumns allowing the grapes to ripen well. The vineyards, stretching for approximately 150km from Thann in the south to Marlenheim in the north, lie on the foothill slopes of the Vosges at altitudes from 180m to 360m, with a multiplicity of soils including limestone, granite, schist, gravel, sandstone and clay-limestone. Over the centuries a body of evidence has grown up showing which grape varieties are best matched to which soils.
This micro-region is the southern part of the heart of Alsace and includes the well known winegrowing villages of Eguisheim and Pfaffenheim. Amongst the Grands Crus here are the sites of Hengst, with marl soils on which great Gewurztraminer grows; Steinert with calcareous soils for fine Pinot Gris; and Kitterlé whose volcanic soils produce crisp Riesling.
Alsace is in the northeast of France, and Colmar is the capital of the Alsace wine region. From Paris by road the easiest route is by the A4 motorway via Strasbourg (about 4½ hours) and then by the A35 to Colmar. Alternatively, the N83 main road runs from Strasbourg south to Colmar and then through the vineyard areas. Guebwiller is 27km south of Colmar. The new TGV-Est service offers frequent trains from Paris to Strasbourg taking about two and a quarter hours and then continues (albeit not at TGV speeds) to Colmar and Basel. The closest international airport is Basel-Mulhouse (part Switzerland/part France), which is about 45 minutes’ drive from Colmar. There is also an airport at Strasbourg for European flights.
Colmar Tourist Office,
4 Rue Unterlinden, 68000 Colmar
Haute Alsace Tourism Office,
1 Rue Schlumberger, 68006 Colmar
Tel: 03 89 20 10 68 Fax: 03 89 23 33 91
Guebwiller Tourist Office,
73 Rue de la République, 68500 Guebwiller
Maison des Vins d’Alsace,
12 Avenue de la Foire aux Vins, 68012 Colmar
Alsace Wine Routes
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