Grand Cru


Rouffach and Westhalten

A terroir bathed in light and history with a wine-making bastion rigorously and skillfully farmed throughout the ages.

  • Soil type Limestone-sandstone
  • Surface area in hectares 73.61
  • Exposure South, South-East
  • Village Rouffach and Westhalten
  • Altitude 210 to 300 metres
  • Grape varieties (in % per variety)
    • Gewurztraminer 53%
    • Riesling 24%
    • Pinot Gris 23%
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Grand Cru Vorbourg

The wines

The Vorbourg crus are both powerful and elegant. Their massive character comes from the clay, whereas their fine and saline minerality is linked to the presence of calcareous rock. Here Pinot Noir can unravel its dark colour and great personality.

The terroir-tie

Wine specificities

The Vorbourg white wines are generous and massive, with fine minerality and a distinct salinity. The finish is tannic and earthy, even for the whites. Fruit aromas prevail (citrus fruits, white peaches, pears).

The massive wine character comes from the heavy and fine-layered marl and clays. As for the saline and fine minerality of the crus, they are linked to the presence of calcareous rock and pebbles.

Pinot Noir has a deep red colour. They blend the power and finesse of tannins. The minerality of Vorbourg reds are expressed by aromas reminiscent of pencil lead, graphite or liquorice.

Here the iron guarantees the structure and stability of red wine polyphenols, which explains the steady colour and silkiness of Pinot Noir tannins.

This Grand Cru expresses an elegant vigour.

The ample fleshiness fills the entire mouth. There is a distinct tautness which provides a pleasant density that conveys the power of this terroir. Vorboug appears with a nearly «tannic» density on the tongue which enhances an elegant and ample minerality. This structure allows Vorbourg wines to unveil the ground’s sparkle in dry wines, giving the possibility of producing great overripe wines.

The depth of character of this terroir is expressed by the Riesling in an array of citrus fruits from Europe and Asia. Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer are marked by yellow fruits at different ripening phases. They all finish in a succulent length which participates in the general balance.

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

Choose and serve

Vintage years

This is a Grand Cru with a real ageing potential. Young, its character somewhat constrains the aromatic expression but after 4 years, it brilliantly shines through and splendidly imposes itself.

During early-ripening vintage years: the mouthfeel gives these wines succulence, accentuating the impression of generous structure.

During late-ripening vintage years: the powerful freshness accentuates the wine sparkle and tautness, bestowing a real sensation of purity.

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

Wine and food pairing

The distinct character of this cru allows generous and powerful wine and food pairings. Meat dishes en croûte, mushroom casserole and even roasted chicken or duck have powerful and marked tastes which find a structural and aromatic alliance with Vorbourg wines.

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

Vorbourg-zvardon-conseilvinsalsace - copie

Grand Cru Vorbourg

The terroir

The nature

An early-ripening terroir with grape maturity favoured by the foehn, a wind able to temper this area which is among the driest in the region. Therefore the grapes are often harvested without wine-growers worrying about attacks by botrytis. But they also would like to see a bit so as to harvest the Vendanges Tardives …


Vorbourg Grand Cru spreads over the municipalities of Rouffach (up to 95%) and Westhalten, to the foot of the Grand and Petit Ballon of Alsace. Its 73.61 hectares sit on the overhanging hill (vor Berg in German) and they are exposed south-south-east.

The slope is steep near the top of hill (30%) and more gentle lower down.


It is brown calcareous soil on Oligocene-epoch conglomerates with sandstone pebbles and Oolithic limestone. The bottom of the hill is covered with loess. This clay-rich soil – about 35% - gives good water supply to the vines, especially at the hill bottom where the soil is fairly thick.


The mesoclimate of this Grand Cru boosts grape maturity. The Petit Ballon and the Grand Ballon protect it from humid west-blowing winds.

There is always excellent sun exposure from dusk until late at night as the Vosges ridges are located just far enough away.

Grape varieties

Riesling, which requires good water supply, occupies the bottom of the hill. Further up, the clay-limestone soil perfectly suits Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris. Due to the Grand Cru location, the grape varieties are sheltered from early noble rot which is always harmful for the berry quality. The upper hillside located on iron-rich red clay soils is appreciated by Pinot Noir which grows wonderfully here. This is why the Vosbourg wine-growers are insisting on the Grand Cru appellation for this grape variety.

The people

Etymologically-speaking, Vorbourg is a deviation of vor (in front) and berg (mountain). Thus, Vorbourg is perfectly located on the Vosges piedmont plain. It sits facing us like a long-standing honoured terroir, initially by ecclesiastic possessions.

Heritage transmission

The reputation of this Grand Cru dates back to the eighth century: Heddon, the Bishop of Strasbourg, founded the Ettenheim convent in 762 to the north of Fribourg im Brisgau (Germany) and left it the Vorbourg vineyards. At the time, the act of donating stipulated that the vines were chosen among the best of Alsace.

The Rouffach district was one of the oldest possessions of the Strasbourg bishropric in Alsace, up until the French Revolution. While Rouffach was developing and prospering within the sheltered doubled-wall city under the protection of the Isenbourg castle, its delicate and subtle crus ended up on the tables of Strasbourg and Basel bishops, and later on the tables of the Dukes of Lorraine and the Princes of Bavaria.

Within the city walls, everyday life was structured around the production of wine. As explained in a document from 1627, every person, regardless whether they were poor or not, made wine. Often people didn’t own a wheat mill to feed their wives and children and therefore exchanged their wine with people from Hardt, Austria and Switzerland to obtain wheat, fruits, butter and money.

Among the corporations that emerged as far back as the Middle Ages, two winemaking associations governed the organisation of public life, according to historian Jacques Ehrhart, an incurable enthusiast when it comes to Rouffach's history. They managed the hiring, work conditions and worker wages. During the war their assignment was to defend the town whose walls bordered the vineyards and to protect it against any harmful devastation. The harvests were subject to strict regulations and always postponed as late as possible near the end of the year.

Wine prices were determined by mutual agreement between the bailiff, the provost and the heads of the winegrowing associations. Any cheating or falsification of wine was severely punished and without any notice taken by the town magistrates. Sales were entrusted to sworn-in workers, guarantors of the product quality. Rigorous work and wine quality are aspects which have never changed throughout Rouffach history.

In 1600, the training of wine-growing apprentices was introduced in the town and it is no coincidence if in 1842, the Lycée Agricole was founded in Rouffach. From the moment it was founded, a unique teaching system was implemented relating to the professions of wine growing and making.

Victor Canales

Beloved vineyards and land

Vineyard work is adapted to this dry and sunny mesoclimate. Therefore there is only light trimming of vines and the ground work is superficial. Due to the high maturity of the Vorbourg grapes, chaptalisation is not required.