Alsace Grand Cru AOC covers 51 vineyard sites producing the finest or ‘Grand Cru’ wines of the Alsace region. The development of Alsace’s Grand Cru system began in 1975. The first 25 Alsace Grand Cru sites were officially defined in 1983–each with its own AOC (see below for a full list). The total rose to 48 in 1986, and to 50 by 2001. To qualify for the Alsace Grand Cru AOC wines with one exception-Kaefferkopf) had to be made from 100% of one of the following four so-called noble grape varieties: Muscat, Riesling, Gewurztraminer or Pinot Gris. Other traditional Alsace grape varieties like Chasselas, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Sylvaner were excluded.
The Kaefferkopf kerfuffle: The insistence on 100% varietal wines meant Kaefferkopf, a terroir in Ammerschwihr officially delimited since 1932 (three decades before the Alsace AOC even came into force), was excluded because its wines had traditionally been a blend of more than one grape variety. However in 2006 Kaefferkopf finally gained Alsace Grand Cru status, the 51st Alsace Grand Cru.
This followed the successful lobbying in 2004 by growers in the Zotzenberg Grand Cru who argued Sylvaner should enjoy the same status there as the other four GC grapes based on its long standing and high quality performance there. Altenberg de Bergheim Grand Cru then successfully argued for its wine to be made from a blend of grapes (like a single vineyard Bordeaux) rather than a 100% varietal (like a single plot Burgundy).
Growers in each Alsace Grand Cru can agree to modify the rules governing aspects of how their wines are produced, such as voluntarily lowering permitted maximum yields, raising minimal potential alcohol levels, reducing or eliminating chaptalization across the board or for particular varieties.
Alsace Grand Cru Grand Cru AOCs (51):
Alsace Grand Cru Kaefferkopf AOC. | Alsace Grand Cru Kanzlerberg AOC. | Alsace Grand Cru Kastelberg AOC. | Alsace Grand Cru Kessler AOC. | Alsace Grand Cru Kirchberg de Barr AOC. | Alsace Grand Cru Kirchberg de Ribeauvillé AOC. | Alsace Grand Cru Kitterlè AOC.
Alsace Grand Cru Saering AOC. | Alsace Grand Cru Schlossberg AOC. | Alsace Grand Cru Schoenenbourg AOC. | Alsace Grand Cru Sommerberg AOC. | Alsace Grand Cru Sonnenglanz AOC. | Alsace Grand Cru Spiegel AOC. | Alsace Grand Cru Sporen AOC. | Alsace Grand Cru Steinert AOC. | Alsace Grand Cru Steingrubler AOC. | Alsace Grand Cru Steinklotz.