Grand Cru


Dahlenheim & Scharrachbergheim

The colline des anges (angel’s hill) is a lieu-dit with an evocative name with wines from this terroir being delicate and elegant, imbued with its limestone presence.

  • Soil type Marl-limestone
  • Surface area in hectares 14,80
  • Exposure South
  • Village Dahlenheim & Scharrachbergheim
  • Altitude 250 to 300 metres
  • Grape varieties (in % per variety)
    • Riesling 54%
    • Gewurztraminer 36%
    • Pinot Gris 10%
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Grand Cru Engelberg

The wines

Engelberg produces refined and elegant wines which unravel a sense of finesse without ever becoming evanescent. This terroir bestows its wines with an acid, straightforward and deep structure.

The terroir-tie

Wine specificities

The extreme limestone-nature of the subsoil gives wines a fine and elegant acidity whereas the fissures of the parent rock allow roots to dig deep, providing a mineral-touch.

On an aromatic level, this terroir quite simply glorifies the grape variety. Riesling and Gewurztraminer wines are fine, elegant, saline, direct and with no austerity. When ageing, the mineral intensity of the terroir ingenuously unravels.


«Riesling is a pure wonder of particularity and authenticity. [...] This Riesling is delectable, refreshing, smooth and exhilarating. It delicately and exquisitely coats the palate, graceful with feminine elegance.»

« Le Gewurztraminer se présente comme un vin parfumé et aromatique, savoureux sans ostentation. It is like biting into these delicious grapes which explode on the palate with a note of springtime freshness .449/>

Character-filled terroir

Its structure is discovered in an intense and steady way. The characteristic acidity of Engelberg wines is left on the tongue then finely expands within the whole mouth. A «stony» texture provides a brilliant blend of complexity to the wine. An intense length revealing a very distinct minerality.

Les Riesling se révèlent avec droiture et affirment une vigueur, parfois une austérité, qui n’est que le prélude à une superbe minéralité. This balance remains pronounced in Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer, allowing the fruitiness of these grape varieties to fully express themselves.

Romain ILTIS
Best Sommelier of France, 2012 and Meilleur Ouvrier de France, 2015 (in the Sommelier category)

Choose and serve

Vintage years

These are wines which unravel after 3 to 4 years and have a keeping potential of at least 15 years. With age, they reveal a spicy character, a straightforward acidity, delicious with very beautiful bitter notes on the finish.

These wines should be aged for at least four years to erase the traces of its youth.

If you wait, you’ll fully enjoy them for years to come.

During early-ripening vintage years: the expression of fresh white fruits, associated with the wine structure, reveals a surprising middle mouth weight which balances with the mineral intensity of this Grand Cru.

During late-ripening years: you have to wait for the more subtle austerity. Wines are then refined and have improved minerality – the dominating expression of this terroir.

Romain ILTIS
Best Sommelier of France, 2012 and Meilleur Ouvrier de France, 2015 (in the Sommelier category)

Wine and food pairing

This terroir suits rich and savoury dishes and can easily be associated with preparations cooked in butter or served with creamy sauces: matelote, fricassee of fish or veal. The sauce of these dishes softens the wine acidity, revealing all their aromatic range and the typical minerality of Engelberg.

Romain ILTIS
Best Sommelier of France, 2012 and Meilleur Ouvrier de France, 2015 (in the Sommelier category)


Grand Cru Engelberg

The terroir

The nature

The uneven and often steep slope of the Engelberg boasts generous sunshine. This open site has an original geological composition. The porous soil and microclimate properties of wind and heat are actually very beneficial to the vineyard, notably for Riesling and Gewurztraminer, which fully benefit from the marl-limestone blend in this growth area.


The major part of the Engelberg Grand Cru is found in the municipal territorial of Dahlenheim, a charming wine-making village located at the gates of Strasbourg in the Mossig valley which gives off, as Serge Dubs says, «a calm, serene atmosphere, a joyous simplicity which must have rubbed off onto the nature of these wine-makers.»

The Engelberg Grand Cru colline des anges stretches over the southern side of the Scharrachberg, a hill made from the large Saverne fracture field and overlooking the surrounding landscape.

It’s an uneven and often steep slope, interspersed by embankments and shrubs and cut in the middle by a former quarry from which rises an impressive chalky cliff. The 14.80 hectares of this Grand Cru area are facing south, thus benefiting from generous sunshine.


From a geological standpoint, this Grand Cru belongs to the family of marl-limestone terroirs.

Soil and subsoil are visible over a depth of around twenty metres thanks to the geological section left by the former quarry. Rocks from the great Eolithic period of the upper Bajocian epoch can be seen (-178 to -170 million years ago).

The yellow surface rock thus shelters holes of lithophagous lamellibranchs, deposit left by the sea which covered the region during the whole Jurassic period.

The hillside quarry also reveals a fissured limestone parent rock allowing roots to grow deep and find the regular water supply required for vines. On the surface, the clay-limestone soil is poor, pebbly and not very thick (40-60 cm). The soil is actually very porous and not very sensitive to water stress.


Engelberg is close to the Vosges mountain range, located at a fluctuating altitude of 250 and 300m, which gives average early-ripening. Its island-like character makes Engelberg a well-aerated vineyard where grapes are rarely affected by botrytis. Furthermore, the southern exposure provides maximum light making for a progressive and full ripening of the grapes. The average rainfall reaches 600 mm/year.

Grape varieties

Over history there are two varieties that have been used on the Engelberg Grand Cru – Riesling and Gewurztraminer. Riesling is particular happy in this pebbly soil which easily reheats and doesn’t suffer from summertime dryness (Sittler and Marocke, 1981). A ground which is also perfect for Gewurztraminer, whose roots like to go deep into the soil.
Pinot Gris is also present on this terroir but to a lesser extent.

The people

The «noble wines» from Dahlenheim were already recognised as of the 9th century and the great medieval monastery traditions loved devoting themselves to farming this terroir. This growth area producing delicious wines henceforth became prominent and sought-after for both its properties and its wines.

Heritage transmission

As of 884, the Benedictine monks from the Honau abbey, built by the Duke Adalbert, brother of Sainte-Odile, were already talking about the Nobilis vinis from this terroir, mentioning for the first time in Alsace, the grandeur of these growth areas which made their vineyards become famous throughout the region. Later it was the Foundation of Saint Thomas (1229) and the Hospices de Strasbourg (1320) who became attached to the wine quality from the colline des anges.

Victor Canales

Since at least 1255, Dahlenheim, the Honau monastery owned a wine-cellar where two knights had to deliver noble wines, nobilis vinis. In 1229, another knight, Walter de Brumath, was obliged to annually deliver 4 aumes (around 600 litres) of wine, selected from the four vineyard plots which it owned in the locality. In 1297, the Cistercian abbey of Neubourg received a donation of vine stocks as a base for an anniversary mass. Dahlenheim mostly appears to have been a genuine wine cellar for the Strasbourg-based ecclesiastic institutions. In 1251, the Prince-Bishop of Strasbourg alluded to a lithe of 9 aumes (around 1350 litres) in the village. According to a ruling in 1303, the chapter of Saint-Pierre-le-Jeune owned vineyards and a cour collongère (group of farms under a common law and depending on one lord, able to dictate laws).

Claude Muller
Vignes et Vignerons d’Alsace, p. 181

In 1320, the Strasbourg hospital received wine for leasing out vineyards from the lieu-dit Engelberg.

Serge Dubs and Denis Ritzenthaler
Les Grands Crus d’Alsace, p. 72

The Saint-Étienne abbey was not left out and received a tithe in wines in 1364. On June 2, 1406, after having bought a torcular vini (wine press), the Dominicans of Sainte-Marguerite, still purchased on December 1, 1443, one and a half acres of vineyards near the lands owned by the knights of Saint-Jean de Dorlisheim.

Claude Muller
Vignes et Vignerons d’Alsace, p. 181

Beloved vineyards and land

The soil-related factors impose no specific constraints except a grass covering allowing to limit erosion. For the same reasons, vines were planted on terraces in some steeper areas making the periods of strong erosion rarer. The rules followed by Engelberg-producing wine-growers are those from the common foundation decreed in the the Alsace Grand Cru appellation specifications book.

Some annual production conditions have been applied since the 2011 harvest:

  • The yield is set at 55 hl/ha.
  • The minimum, average natural alcohol degree was defined for Riesling and Muscat at 11°5, and for Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer at 13°.

In local management, wine-growers agreed upon making dry Riesling with less than 9 g/l of residual sugar.