Alsace 101: Grand Cru Kaefferkopf
March 26, 2018
Surrounding the town of Ammerschwihr, the Kaefferkopf grand cru covers about 170 acres along the east-facing slopes of the Vosges Mountains in three non-contiguous sections. As with most of Alsace, the terroir here is diverse: granite bedrock with varying limestone and sandstone soils.
It is the last to be designated a grand cru in 2006, but has long been considered a crown jewel of Alsace, with ideal conditions for single-variety Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer. It is not, however, without its controversy.
Prior to its grand cru designation, the original Kaefferkopf appellation (delimited in 1932), was larger by 37 acres and famous for its high-quality blended wines—not permitted in grand crus. A legal challenge waged by the historic growers finally resulted in allowing blends to be produced as grand cru wines.
The new legislation, however, limited the blended varieties, composed of 60 to 80% Gewurztraminer, 10 to 40% of Riesling, and up to 30% of Pinot Gris. Whether single-varietal or blended, the wines here are concentrated, generous, balance and dry, marked with fresh acidity. They pair well with a range of foods from foie gras and cheeses to exotic spicy cuisines and game poultry.