Fine wines, Michelin starred restaurants and fairy tale houses. A gourmet trip to Alsace with Rémy Gresser

October 11, 2021

Fine wines, Michelin starred restaurants and fairy tale houses. A gourmet trip to Alsace with Rémy Gresser

Alsace has a fascinating history with its mix of French and German culture, bounded by the Rhine River on the east and the Vosges Mountains on the west.

Strasbourg Alsace France

Strasbourg, in the Bas Rhin, is the capital of Alsace, once the richest city of the Holy Roman Empire  and still home to many European Institutions.

The city’s art and culture flourished here with its gastronomy for over 2000 years and now home to 4 Michelin starred and 46 other Michelin rated restaurants.

It is a city that you will fall in love all year around no matter time and season of your visit.

As heading south, to the Haut Rhin, the next stop is Colmar. The town is surrounded by vineyards and called "little Venice" for its beautiful houses, the canals, and the Grand Rue with its restaurants, boutiques, historical architecture and beautiful fountains; it was even spared both by the Nazi and Allied bombers in WWII.

Colmar Alsace France

Colmar is probably the most picturesque European city and not only famous about its wine culture, gastronomy but for the designer of the Statue of Liberty, Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi who was born here in 1834.

Colmar is the perfect location to set camp before your journey begins on the Route du Vin heading through the lush vineyards on cobbled streets of fairy tale villages with their half-timbered houses.

As you walk through these centuries old streets, you will notice the wine tasting fellow in the signs over the houses. It means, once the “town gourmet” used to live in them.

In every wine region, just like in Alsace, there was a man appointed to rate and price the wine. He sold the wine, acting as a middle man between the vignerons and wine drinkers. Certainly, he knew, the best way to sell wine is to be paired with quality food, so, he became the “gourmet” of the town with the finest food and wine, a job that survived till the 1930s in Alsace!

However, our journey begins in Andlau, half way between Colmar and Strasbourg, in our friend, Rémy Gresser’s tasting room. He will be our gourmet guide but only after he explains the complex geography of Alsace.

It will start with a map and, the rocks before your glass filled with the delicious wines of his. The he begins to explain the different terroir.

Did you know that in Alsace there is 53 appellations, 1 regional Alsace AOC, another one for the local fizz lovers, Cremant d’Alsace, and 51 Grand Crus. 

Rémy’s wines are exciting and pure expressions of the diverse soil of the region.

His Brandhof vineyards are on limestone, the Duttenberg is clay-marne, the Kritt is gravelly, while his three Grand Cru vineyards, the Wiebelsberg is on sandstones that gives floral Rieslings, the Moenchberg is on granite and fossil rich limestone that produces succulent wines, whilst the Kastelberg produces probably the region’s most exciting mineral wines on 460 million years old Steige schist.

All of these wines are delicious, mouth-watering and incredibly food-friendly wines.

The hot summer helps developing floral and ripe fruit notes, while the unique soil types of each vineyard brings out spicy and mineral characters.

The white wines of Alsace can cater from aperitif to desserts at dinner parties and here are our recommendations for you to try:

For seafood dishes, we would like to recommend our Les Graves 2017 Riesling.

It is full of energy with aromas of white peach, lime and a salty mineral finish that does work beautifully with smoked fish, salmon and other fish dishes but, also makes the wine very flexible to pair with food such as creamy spiced chicken dishes.

With an aged dry Grand Cru Riesling, such as our Moenchberg, try roasted pork belly or matured goat cheese.

These intense rich and powerful wines work magnificently from the finest cold cuts to complex lamb dishes.

The locals usually enjoys Pinot Gris with salmon and veal dishes but, a rich complex one, like our Brandhof Pinot Gris, with its dried fruit and honeyed notes works magically with foie gras, pates, and South Asian dishes.

Risottos, Quiche, Ham and cheese pizza pairs well with our aged Kritt Pinot Blanc, that is most of the time, an overlooked, even though, a very versatile food wine with its medium-body, creamy mouthfeel with elegant fruit notes and fresh acidity.

Our Muscat’d Alsace opens up with a spicy, floral aromas and offers an intense grapey notes.

It is characterful, elegant and a gastronomic wine, it should be paired with dishes that other Alsace wines struggle, such as fruit salads and Asparagus.

The classic dish would be white asparagus in a creamy, buttery sauce or smoked hams.

It works the similar way, as Gewurztraminer, perfect with Asian cuisine and also for smoked and aged cheese. And, of course, it is the perfect aperitif.

When you visit Remy, he is not only going take you to a journey around the diverse terroir of his beloved Alsace but, he will be your “town gourmet” and will recommend the classic and sometimes out of the box food pairings for his wines.

Remy Gresser in the vineyards Alsace France

You can walk the vineyards with him, whilst he will take you back in time to his grandmother’s kitchen baking kuglof.

And what else, if not his 2006 Wiebelsberg Grand Cru Selection Grains Nobles to pair with dessert or cheese.

These rare and special sweet wines made entirely by botrytised (noble rot ) grape berries, offering a mind-blowing mix of flavours, these wines should be enjoyed on their own but, try desserts with tropical fruit, such as mango, or apricot cake or of course, with cheese, for example, an aged Munster, that develops a strong pungent aroma that accompany the deep flavours of the wine.