Alsace 101: Schoenenbourg Grand Cru
September 26, 2016
The steep Schoenenbourg Grand Cru (up to 1,245-foot elevation) enjoys a privileged spot between the towns of Colmar and Ribeauvillé. Positioned north of the commune of Riquewihr and just south of Zellenberg, it is one of the largest of Alsace’s 51 Grand Cru sites at 131 acres, and lies in a “belt” of 10 prime Grand Cru vineyards. Since the 16th century, wines from this parcel were famous throughout northern Europe. French Enlightenment writer and philosopher Voltaire owned vineyards here.
The soils are varied: primarily Marlstone (locally called Keuper) often covered by sandstone, Muschelkalk (shell bearing limestone), and a gypsum subsoil—the Muschelkalk is a reminder that oceans once covered the area during the Jurassic period, making this soil mineral rich and water retentive.
Schoenenbourg Grand Cru wines are known for their ageability and powerful aromas that develop with time. They are rich—even corpulent—with great mineral expression. Here, Riesling is King, though Muscat and Pinot Gris also benefit from the favorable conditions. The microclimate also makes it well suited to the production of late-harvest wines, the exceptional Vendanges Tardives and even more rare Sélections de Grains Nobles.
These wines go well with richer shellfish, cavier, and braised chicken dishes.