loading Ophorus Please wait
logo Ophorus Tours Your order is being processed, please wait loading Ophorus
Culinary France

5 Alsace Wine Appellations you have probably never heard of

Ophorus Blog - 5 Alsace Wine Appellations you have probably never heard of
If you're looking for a wine tasting holiday you could do a lot worse than visiting Alsace in Eastern France, home to some of the wine trade's best kept secrets.


The wines of Alsace are 90% white, made with a high proportion of Germanic grapes – Riesling, Sylvaner and Gewürztraminer – and bottled in tall, elegant ‘flute’ bottles. Traditionally, Alsace winemakers produced bone dry wines, whereas their German neighbours made lighter wines with greater amounts of residual sugar.

Seven varieties are grown here, of which four are considered ‘noble’ – Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Muscat. Mostly, these are vinified and bottled individually to produce a pure expression of each variety.

On top of this, Alsace is one of the most geologically diverse regions in the world, offering 13 distinct soil types from 8 mother rocks. This means that producers can match the seven main varieties to the best terroir, creating combinations that are truly unique and specific to an individual vineyard plot, like a Grand Cru or a lieu-dit.


Alsace Wine Route


Alsace is broken up by AOC law (aka Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée). These laws dictate everything from grape variety allowed to vineyard density (i.e. how far apart vines are from one another). Therefore, to understand Alsace, it helps to understand the 3 major AOCs

  • AOC Alsace for easy-drinking and well-priced still wines;
  • AOC Crémant d’Alsace for affordable, happy bubblies made in the traditional method-just like Champagne;
  • 51 distinct AOC Grand Cru vineyards, which have more concentration and complexity in their flavours.

And….the ‘appellations communales’

Since 2011, this appellation meets strict production standards regarding: varietals planted, vine density, pruning, trellising, grape maturity, yields. 14 communes or inter-communal entities were also given defined boundaries and can be indicated on labels in addition to the AOC Alsace.

Today we explore 5 of them; Bergheim, Klevener de Heiligenstein, Ottrott, Scherwiller, Vallée Noble, as we often come across them on our regular wine tours.

1. The Bergheim Appellation

There are various hillsides around the little village of Bergheim with a predominance of heavy soils compound by clay and limestone, south and south-east exposures; the perfect combination for delicious, gastronomic Gewürztraminer. Aromas of exotic fruits and different spices and a peppery/ginger finish. We include wine tastings in wineries on our Full Day wine tours and Grands Grus tours departing from Strasbourg and Colmar.


This grape variety has been known for a very long time in Alsace but has gradually been replaced by a more aromatic and spicier variant... Gewurztraminer! The winegrowers of the village of Heiligenstein (and a few neighbouring villages) continue to produce this wine, which has become extremely rare. Produced on 60 hectares only, it is not exported, nor can you find it elsewhere along the Wine Road. It is made from the Savagnin Rose, which by its elegance, strength and subtle aromas, ranks among the noble grape varieties of Alsace along with the great Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer.

A truly unique wine to taste on one of our half day wine tours departing form Strasbourg.

The Bergheim wine appellation


Ottrott, adorable village on the slopes of Mont Ste Odile is also a privileged land: where a beautiful AOC red wine is made. In Ottrott, the king grape is Pinot Noir.

Le Rouge D’Ottrott has a long history. Its origin dates to the year 1109; when Benedictine monks came from Burgundy, bringing with them young vines in wooden barrels filled with good Burgundy soil. The tradition of making velvety, smooth red wines started then and is carried on today by local families. Do not miss the chance to meet these local wine makers of one of our half day wine tours from Strasbourg!


This Appellation Communale may only be used for wine made from the Riesling grape. Around the village of Scherwiller, there is a precocious soil – alluvial, light, hot, dry, with a filtering effect – which gives the wine a nutmeg fragrance with a hint of lemon flavour in the mouth.

We have several partner wineries we work with around this area, some of which making organic or even biodynamic wines in order to express the qualities of this exceptional terroir.


At the foot of the Vosges mountains, protected by Le Petit and Le Grand Ballon peaks of the Vosges, peaks that form a barrier against the west winds, you find a green valley called the Vallée Noble. In the shape of a basin, the Vallée Noble predominantly contains steep hillside vines. During autumn, the nights are cool, with the only winds being drying winds, so favouring noble rot.

Therefore, Vallee Noble terroir gives us honeyed, smoky Pinot Gris, spicy, highly aromatic Gewürztraminers, and elegant, grapefruit-flavoured Rieslings.

Vallée Noble Alsace Appellation


What we consider to be the most important factor for a successful experience is the personality, knowledge and expertise of your guide. That is why all our tours in Alsace are conducted by professional, expert guides that speak impeccable English.

All of us hold at minimum the WSET level 2 diploma in wines. We have a genuine passion for wine and food, as well as for our region, its culture, its history, its landmarks. Whether you are wine experts/collectors, or enthusiasts who just want to have a great day sipping wines in a beautiful place, we have the perfect itineraries for you!

Our Alsace Wine Tours & Day Trips depart from both Strasbourg & Colmar. You can find information on accommodation in both towns by following these links: Strasbourg Hotels & Colmar Hotels 

This blog article was written by Florence, professional licensed guide since 1995. Born and bred in Alsace. Based in Strasbourg. Wine-lover, I used to own a vineyard!

Ophorus trusted reviews

Secured payments

Ophorus trusted reviews

easy cancellation

Ophorus trusted reviews

trusted reviews