Alsace: 25 - 30 November 2018
Besides taking you to the best vineyards, steep hillsides planted with aromatics grapes such as Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Riesling, you will experience Alsace’s famous winter markets - Marchés de Noel - a drawcard for visitors as well as locals since the 16th century. From the moment you arrive, you'll find these storybook villages alive with vibrant markets, twinkling lights and delightfully decorated stalls brimming with hand-crafted gifts and ornaments not to mention the tantalizing aromas wafting through the air with the promise of gourmet delights.
STRASBOURG, Sunday 25
We start with a walking tour around the city with our hand-picked local guide, followed by a super visit to a wine museum. Strasbourg is the perfect overture to all that is idiosyncratic about Alsace – walking a fine tightrope between France and Germany and between a medieval past and a progressive future, it pulls off its act in inimitable Alsatian style.
Tear your gaze away from that mesmerising Gothic cathedral for just a minute and you’ll be roaming the old town’s twisting alleys lined with crooked half-timbered houses à la Grimm; feasting in the cosiest of winstubs (Alsatian taverns) by the canals in Petite France.
STRASBOURG - MARLENHEIM - STRASBOURG, Monday 26
We hit the road into the winemaking regions.
The first tasting is planned at Arthur Metz which is ideally located at the start of the picturesque wine circuit in Alsace, in the area known as the Golden Crown, which is the central road through the Alsace vineyards. Arthur Metz is the leading player in the vineyards of Alsace and the main producer of the sparkling wine Crémant d’Alsace.
There are villages a plenty to visit, and time permitting we will stop in at least two of the best nearby in the afternoon before heading back to downtown Strasbourg.
STRASBOURG - SAINT-HIPPOLYTE - SELESTAT, Tuesday 27
Today’s sights include one of the most beautiful villages in France (officially listed) where wine has been produced since at least the 5th Century CE. Today our winery visit is to Domaine Gresser, one of the most important in all of Alsace. Our suggested lunch spot is in Andlau, before we visit the last Alsatian Kelsch Weaver in Muttersholtz and an organic tea shop in Wittisheim. The winding wine route takes us into the area of the grand crus, and near to our lodgings for the night: the fortified village of Saint Hippolyte.
SELESTAT - BEBLENHEIM - CHATEAU DE HAUT KOENINGSBERG - KAYSERSBERG - COLMAR, Wednesday 28
Today we’ll taste nearby and slightly south of the hotel at Bott-Geyl, where the vineyards were converted to organic in 2000 and then biodynamic in 2002.
The afternoon visit to the Chateau de Haut Koenigsberg is one of those remarkable visits that mark each voyage. The views, when the weather is clear, are stupéfiant! The visit to Kaysersberg and its festive market continues the Christmas theme. It’s simply one of the best. The market is on the ramparts around the town and the market perfectly captures all the authenticity and magic of a Christmas in Alsace. We’ll then drive the short distance to the capital of the Alsace wine region, Colmar.
COLMAR - UNGERSHEIM - WETTOLSHEIM - EGUISHEIM - COLMAR, Thursday 29
Day 5 heads a short way off the wine route to stop at one of the best regional museums in France; an interactive museum with things to touch, see and do, and help to really understand the history and identity of Alsace and its people.
The afternoon tasting is in Wettolsheim, at Albert Mann. This estate is organically and biodynamically cultivated and Ecocert® certified.
COLMAR - NIEDERMORSHWIR - RIBEAUVILLE - KIENTZHEIM - COLMAR, Friday 30
The last full day along the wine route holds lots of the best for last, in a sense. The towns of Riquewihr and Ribeauville are stunning and need a guide to most fully appreciate them. The day’s cellar visit and tasting are at Boxler. The Gewurztraminer, Riesling and Pinot Gris, are cultivated on mostly steep slopes in Niedermorswihr.
The afternoon visit of the wine museum puts things all into context after almost a week on the wine route. There are ancient tools everywhere and the intention of the museum is to inform on one hand but also pay tribute to the many Alsatian wine-growers who have worked so hard to earn the region's excellent reputation.