Alsace Topography & Geology

  1. Where is the Rhine River valley?
    Between the Vosges Mountain of France and the Black Forest of Germany.
  2. How big is the Rhine River valley?
    190 miles (300 km) long and 25 miles (40 km) wide
  3. T or F? The Rhine plain is a part of the Rhine graben
    True: The Rhine graben is a rift system that zigzags across Europe from the Mediterranean to the North Sea
  4. Define a graben
    A trench with two vertical uplifts
  5. T or F? The Rhine river formed the Rhine graben
    False: It is the result of plains falling along parallel fault lines; similar to how Bourgogne and the Jura form uplifts of the Saône graben.
  6. Describe the formation of the Rhine graben
    • Paleozoic Era: 300 mya, a colossal uplift of igneous rock
    • Mesozoic Era: 150 mya, Alsace was covered by an inland sea resulting in sedimentary deposits
    • Cenozoic Era Phase 1: 50 mya, Afro-Arabian and Euro-Asian plates collided, resulting in a tremendous upheaval and fall along parallel fault lines
    • Cenozoic Era Phase 2: The western side of the graben (Alsace) fractured into multiple fault bundles that subsequently developed cross faults which eroded to form the Vosges foothills.
  7. Describe the soil in the Vosges mountains
    • North: sandstone and some granite, schist, and volcanic soils
    • South: crystalline/granite (lifted higher and erosion is slower)
  8. Describe the soil in the Vosges foothills
    • The soils are diverse but largely sedimentary
    • Most are calcareous with clay and/or marl
    • Some pockets of gneiss, granite, and schist
  9. Describe the alluvial soil in the Rhine plain
    • Upper terraces: gravels
    • Lower terraces: highly fertile loess
    • Note: the land is better suited to crops other than vines
  10. What is the elevation of vineyards in the Vosges mountains and those in the sub-Vosgian Hills?
    • Mountains (up to 60° gradient): 820-1,300 feet (250-400 m)
    • Foothills (up to 25° gradient): 660-1,200 feet (200-300 m)
  11. T or F? Most Alsacian vineyards are planted on the slopes of the Vosges mountains
    False: Most vineyards are planted on the sub-Vosgian hills ("foothills")
  12. T or F? The Vosges foothills have the more complex terroirs
    True: Erosion of the sedimentary formation created vineyard parcels with varying aspects and slopes, thus creating a myriad of meso-climates/terroirs
  13. Grapes for sparkling wine production in Alsace are grown on:

    B. gravel/slope wash found at the eastern base of the foothills
  14. Name the major rivers in Alsace
    • North-South: Rhin, Ill
    • East-West, Cleebourg to Strasbourg: Lauter, Saver, Moder, Zorn, Bruche
    • East-West, Strasbourg to Colmar: Andlau, Giessen, Weiss, Fecht
    • East-West, Colmar to Mulhouse: Lauch, Thur, COller, Largue
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Card Set
Alsace Topography & Geology
Wine Scholar Guild Alsace Master Level Program