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The Unusual Grapes of Alsace ~ A Series

March 2, 2019

The Unusual Grapes of Alsace ~ A Series

Klevener de Heiligenstein

Near the foothills of the Vosges Mountains some 30 kilometers southwest of Strasbourg lies the dreamy town of Heiligenstein. Decked in flowers and reminiscent of a romantic Medieval town, Heiligenstein is most famous for its Klevener, a wine unique to Alsace. Made from the pink skinned Savagnin Rose grape, the curiosity known as Klevener de Heiligenstein covers only 80 hectares out of the total 15,000 hectares of vineyard spread over 119 villages in Alsace. Since Savagnin rose is not a permitted variety for other Alsace wines, its replanting outside the area of Heiligenstein is not allowed. As far as its genetic history, Savagnin Rose is a mutation of the Traminer varietal. If Traminer sounds familiar, it is because it is the origin behind one of Alsace’s most famous grapes: Gewurztraminer. Gewurztraminer translates to “Spiced Traminer”, which is believed to be a highly aromatic mutation of Savagnin Rose or Red Traminer. Therefore, Klevener de Heiligenstein is frequently described as a less aromatic form of Gewurztraminer.

The wine itself is brilliant gold, with light yellow reflections, full of exotic fruit notes such as pineapple and lychee interwoven with aromas of subtle white flowers. The finesse of this wine is achieved through its bright, acid-driven structure, a generally lower abv than its more aromatic counterpart, and a generous, creamy mouthfeel. Suggested pairings include marbre and fishes with creamy sauce or even a light salad. If you find yourself in the town of Heligenstein, take D35 from Heiligenstein to reach Barr, the wine capital of Alsace with the oldest Alsace wine fair, and a historical Harvest Festival which is traditionally held the first weekend of October. Just west of Barr lies Kirchberg, the home town of Chef Joho. Continue along the road to see where it all began.

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