The Alsace Vintage Years

Year 2012

A balanced vintage year

The climate

The beginning of winter was marked by relatively mild seasonal temperatures, associated with a large water deficiency. February, however, was marked by a wave of intensely cold weather. A very mild month of March helped along the early budding but the chilly temperatures in the months of April and May resulted in a significant slowing down of the growth cycle. As a result the flowering only started at the end of May and continued throughout the whole month of June. The relatively damp climate reported during the flowering helped the development of mildew, with powdery mildew taking over in July. If these two diseases created some concern, the vigilance of professionals and the very high temperatures during the month of August allowed the negative affects to be limited. The very hot summer climatic conditions resulted, depending on the sectors and soil-type, some of the grapes to be late in ripening. Fortunately, the fresher temperatures recorded in September encouraged a more regular ripening pattern, perfectly healthy grapes, with good levels of tartaric acid which is a necessary quality for wine balance.

The harvest

Harvest began onSeptember 10, 2012 for all grape varieties of theAOC Crémant d’Alsace and boasted a wonderful quality.

Thereafter, the patience of professionals was severely tested with capricious weather conditions, alternating between beautiful sunny periods and rainy episodes. They had to juggle between ensuring grape-ripening, health-state and the weather! The harvest for AOC Alsace and Alsace Grands Crus began onSeptember 14 for all the grape varieties, except for Riesling which was picked later on September 27. It should be noted that certain lieux-dits decided to again postpone this harvest date. Depending on the parcels, this variety requires being picked in several passes due to the ripeness differences.

The Vendanges Tardives and Sélections de Grains Nobles had to be picked manually as ofOctober 8 for all the varieties. Considering the evolution of weather changes in October, and thus on the health-state, the volume of Vendanges Tardives and Sélection de Grains Nobles harvested was fairly low (under 10,000 hl).

The overall volume of the harvest, including all the AOCs, amounted to 1,120,300 hl (back 3% compared to 2011) with the following breakdown:

  • 805,500 hl AOC Alsace
  • 270,000 hl AOC Crémant d’Alsace
  • 44,800 hl AOC Alsace Grands Crus

The wines

The beautiful quality of grapes picked for AOC Crémant d’Alsace resulted in elegant and perfectly balanced wines, with a volume in line with professional expectations. A very successful vintage year.

As for still wines, the great quality of all the Pinots can be emphasized. Pinot Blanc is fresh and very aromatic. Pinot Noir is ripe, rich in tannins with a dark colour, presenting a high amount of anthocyanins and polyphenols, comparable to those in 2009. Special mention to Pinot Gris, the big winner of this vintage year with wonderful alcohol/acidity balance. Muscat is fruity and crispy, just like Sylvaner. Gewurztraminer was harvested at optimum ripeness levels prominently featuring a balance which is found is gastronomic wines. They thus combine freshness, fruitiness and spicy notes. As for Riesling, they have great freshness balances with lemony and white flower notes.

CIVA: Interprofessional Committee of Alsace Wine
May 2013

The Alsace Vintage Years

There are never two harvests which are alike! Each year, the different climatic conditions impose a natural framework which wine-makers learn to manage. The vintage year transmits these variations into the wine quality perception. It furthermore provides indications for how long it should age once bottled.

Review the last 20 vintage years and those which have entered into the legend of great wines: