If you are planning a trip to Germany’s Rhine Valley or Eastern France, be sure to spend a little “wine time” in Alsace. This international destination is one of those less-traveled beauties of rural France that sports both spectacular history and unforgettable “vins”.
Wine tour veterans like to make it an extensive grape epic by setting up an itinerary starting at the northern town of Strasbourg and meandering south to Colmar. With about 100 miles of potential wine stops, it’s quite an experience.
But, if you’re like most of us “whirlwind tourists” who prefer booking with a fully-packed commercial tour that just happens to pass through Alsace on a few stops, the best plan is to decide where to spend that valuable time beforehand. One of the places to seriously consider is just outside Colmar in the town of Obernai. It’s convenient because many tours include Colmar on their itinerary and good transport makes it relatively easy to get out to Colmar’s surrounding areas.
One winery that seems to come up in post-tour discussions again and again is Robert Blanck. They have been around since the middle of the 18th century but are modern enough to impress just about anyone who digs winery tours. Their presentation is totally entertaining and their English is very easy to understand. If there was a place where Alsace wines put their best foot forward, this is it.
Inside their barrel room, there isn’t a stainless steel tank in sight. Ancient oak casks tower over the main isle and, and as Robert carefully explains, “wine stone” accumulates on the inside of the tanks to contribute to the wine’s wonderful flavor. Just being able to examine samples of this stone explains a lot about the mineral qualities of the Alsace wines.
Robert has quite a wide selection of white wines to try, including a Dry Muscat that is quite surprising in its natural mineral and fruit character, without a hint of the sweetness common in Muscats. Their Gewurztraminer starts out with a somewhat fruity/mineral bouquet that is followed up by a blast of fruit and flowers that is captivating. They have many more wines of character and the presentation puts you right into the French wine scene.
If you get a chance to visit and sample their wines, allow plenty of time to hang out. They will keep you entertained and are sure to fill your wine box with goodies for the return trip to your tour operator. If practical, be sure to get a few extra to have with dinner. The food and wines of Alsace are a unique experience to remember.