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State structure and administrative division
Alsace consists of 13 arrondissements, 75 cantons and 903 communes. In the north of Alsace is the department Bas-Rhin with Strasbourg as its capital, in the south the department Haut-Rhin with Colmar as its prefecture.
The administrative centre of Alsace is Strasbourg, which is also the seat of the European Council and the European Parliament. For the current political situation in France, see the history section.
Wine has been grown in Alsace since Roman times. The vineyards of Alsace are located in a relatively small strip of land, 120 km long and only 4 km wide. Grape varieties such as Riesling, Gewürztraminer or Sylvaner produce delicious, fresh, white wines. The total vineyard area covers about 12,000 ha, situated between 200 and 400 metres, while there are about 12,000 winegrowers. Thus, the average farm size is only about one hectare.
The dry, characterful Riesling is the most famous wine of Alsace. Riesling is delicious with fish, shellfish, poultry, cold meat and with typical Alsatian dishes such as sauerkraut and smoked ham.
Gewürztraminer is a spicy, very recognisable wine from Alsace. Originally from Italy, it is rich in alcohol and very fragrant. It is a good match with sauerkraut, sausages and spicy dishes.
The Sylvaner is a fresh, fruity, dry wine from Austria. It can be enjoyed with fish or as an aperitif.
The very powerful Tokay Pinot Gris does not come from Hungary, as the name might suggest. Vineyards with this grape cover about 1000 hectares in Alsace.
The very popular Edelzwicker is blended from various Alsace grape varieties and can be drunk young.
Several centuries ago, it was mainly the red Pinot Noir that was cultivated in Alsace. Today, Pinot Noir accounts for less than 10% of the vineyards.
Clevener is the result of a combination of Pinot Blanc Auxerrois and Tokay Pinot Gris. It is a rather rare, dry and fruity wine, which comes from a sunny site of only 160 ha in the foothills of the Vosges Mountains, in the north of Alsace.
In the cellar of the winegrowers Hugel et fils in the village of Riquewihr stands the 'foudre Cathérine', the oldest wine vat still in use in the world. The oak barrel dates back to 1715.
Alsace is not only known for its excellent wines, but also its beer is famous. More than half of the French beer production comes from the big breweries Meteor near Saverne and Kronenbourg, Adelshoffen, Fischer, Heineken and Schutzenberger near Strasbourg.
Dominicus, J. / Vogezen, Elzas
Elzas, Vogezen, Champagne
Graaf, G. de / Vogezen en Elzas
Schuppen, S. van / Vogezen, Elzas en Lotharingen
Tschirner, S. / Elzas, Vogezen
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