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Alsace

Alsace is one of the great, under-appreciated treasures of the wine world. This pretty enclave of fairytale villages in the lee of the forested Vosges Mountains offers a wide range of varietally labelled wines, of which the aromatic whites are still, despite global warming, much more successful than the light reds. Alsace stands out from other French wine regions thanks to its strong Franco-Germanic influences. These are the result of the region having switched back and forth between German and French sovereignty in recent centuries – and are evident not only in Alsatian architecture and culture, but also in the wines. Alsace is the only French wine region to grow significant quantities of Riesling and Gewurztraminer. Both of these varieties are more commonly associated with German wines. Pinot Gris, a variety typically marginalized in other French regions as a blending component, is another of the region's specialties. Sylvaner and Muscat are also traditional Alsace grape varieties, as are Chasselas and Auxerrois although the latter two tend to be used not in single-variety wines but in blends.