Too Much Can Get You Alsauced, Alsace’s Wine Route (Route du Vin)

When we traveled to Burgundy, we learned that hundreds of thousands of years ago it  was seaside.  The limestone deposited during that time (and complex soil from subsequent fracturing from land shifts) make their wines unique.

Like Burgundy, Alsace sits on a geological fault line and its soil varies extensively.  Also like Burgundy, it is one of the most prominent wine regions of France.  The best vineyards of Alsace are along a geological fault zone that stretches from south to north along the Voges granitic mountain range.  It is 120 km (74.5 miles) long but only a few kilometres wide.  This is the Alsace Wine Route/Route du Vin, a scenic journey to enjoy the French wines, countryside, architecture and food.

The vineyards are located in the foothills of Les Voges mountain range around villages from the middle ages.  Ruined hilltop castles from the middle ages overlook the towns.  Many of the towns have fortified ramparts and cobblestoned streets.  They are postcard pretty with flower-decked streets, historic churches, timbered buildings and gurgling fountains.  In addition to the usual assortment of delightful shops, cafes, restaurants, wine tasting rooms (winstubs) which serve wine from many local vineyards fill the towns.  Ooh la la.

Turckheim, RibeauvilleRiquewihr and Kayersberg are the most popular towns on the Alsace Wine Road and are regularly visited by tour busses and the crowds they bring. Other nice towns include: ObernaiBarrMittelbergheinAndlauDambach-la-VilleSelestatBergheinHunawihr and Eguisheim (which we visited).   Alsace is a popular destination for vacations/holidays.  While we saw other tourists, we were lucky (and surprised) we didn’t see any crowds.

Alsace wine tasting at Paul Schneider

Alsace is well-known for its crisp white wines.  Alsation wines use seven varieties of grapes: Sylvaner, Pinot BlancPinot Noir, Riesling, MuscatPinot Gris and Gewürztraminer.  It has Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) designation.  There are countless opportunities to taste these in roadside wine cellars (caves in French).  Everyone recommends advance appointments (particularly during busy times like harvest).  Not all wines are created equal and not all wineries are created equal.  The quality can vary drastically from winery to winery.  As a result, if you want to taste the best, research them in advance.

Eichberg and Pfersigberg are two of the other well-respected Grand Crus

One of the best surprises was the Cremant D’ Alsace, a lively and delicate sparkling wine made by the traditional method of fermentation in the bottle.  It’s kind of like Champagne.  What’s not to love?

Although you can drive the Alsace Wine Route, there are many well-marked hiking trails (sentiers viticoles) and bike routes if you get Alsauced.

Advertisements

Kickin’ It With The Dropkick Murphys At The Caribana Festival

In Charlotte, North Carolina we bemoaned Tuesday night concerts.  In Geneva, we just want someone, anyone to come play nearby.  When we saw that the Dropkick Murphys on the bill at the Caribana Festival in nearby Crans-Sur-Nyon, we immediately bought tickets. We see them every chance we get and they always put on a great show.  It was nice not to have to hop a plane to see some good ol’ punk rock-n-roll like we did for Groezrock.

We weren’t the only ones who were pumped. This guy was really cool. So were his friends.

He left work (gasp) at five and we got there early.  It took awhile for the punks to arrive and we were able to get in the first row.   Although a lot of people came specifically to see the Dropkick Murphys, the Caribana Festival has a diverse selection of artists (Lou Reed, Kasabian, Pony Pony Run Run, The Specials, Beth Ditto, Marina & the Diamonds, Gossip, Haight Ashbury, Stephen Marley).

Our view was amazing and I was cursing that I didn’t bring my real camera.  We did so much jumping and fist pumping that it wouldn’t have been a good idea anyway.  It wasn’t too crowded up front.  He even felt good enough to leave me up there and mix it up in the mosh pit.  He reported that it was a little tamer than in the US.

Al Barr had tons of energy.  We couldn’t believe James Lynch was right in front of us!

Stephanie Dougherty did a great job.  We saw her walking around before the show.  I got a picture of the back of her head in front of the tour busses.  I should have asked her to pose for a photo.  She was watching from backstage and looked toward us.  I mouthed “you rock” and she smiled.  It’s nice to know that I can make someone besides the Queen of Sweden smile.

Ken Casey was amazing.  We’d seen this guy in a wheelchair crowd surfing earlier in the concert.  Ken got out into the crowd and passed him the mike to sing “Kiss Me, I’m S***faced.”  When he was back on solid land, Ken went out into the middle of the circle pit where he was mixing it up to sing next to him.  That guy was impressive.  Heck, they both were.

Our new friend holding a setlist.  We got one too.  Score.