The Unusual Grapes of Alsace ~ A Series
March 2, 2019
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.