According to Pierre Galet (Cepages et Vignobles de France), Savagnin is identical to Traminer, which, until the end of the 19th Century, was largely present in Alsace throughout its vineyards. Around 1850, it was replaced with Gewurztraminer, which is considered to be the aromatic pink variant of Savagnin (or Traminer), except in the zone of Heiligenstein where this Savagnin (or Traminer) varietal was kept under the name of Klevener de Heiligenstein.
The origin of Traminer remains a mystery: several historians and scientists have put forth different theories. Its ancient origin is proven in books of viticultural study in the region, in which it is referred to as early as 1500. Certain authors believe Traminer may have decended from a vine variety coming from Greece. Others cite Italy as the place of origin. Tyrol is also cited. It is proven that Traminer was for many centuries cultivated in the Rhin Superieur region and in the Rhineland-Palatinat region, before its abandonment. Jerome Bock, in his Kräuterbuch (1551), cites Traminer (or Savagnin rose) in Alsace and Kleber near Wissembourg. 1742 marked the beginning of a lengthy lawsuit against Heiligenstein—ardently defended by Ehrhard Wantz, then the magistrate—and the three neighbouring villages, on the ownership of land marked “Auboden”.
Following this, the municipal magistrate of Strasbourg authorized Heiligenstein to plant Klevener, beginning in 1742, on its land. In his work, “Notices historiques et topographiques sur les vignes et les vins d’Alsace” (1828), Jean-Louis Stoltz enumerates several different Traminers in Alsace: Feurigrote (or Edelklevener) and Blassrothen (red Klevener).
In his work of 1852, “Ampélographie Rhénane”, he mentions the cultivation of Roht-Klaevener in Heiligenstein, Gertwiller, Goxwiller and Mittelbergheim. On June 30, 1971, a decree defined the sub-appellation of Klevener de Heiligenstein. This decree was accompanied by that of February 4, 1997, which established the area of production. In addition, the only wines who have the right to AOC Vin d’Alsace or Alsace, followed by “Klevener de Heilgenstein”, are those made from the varietal Savagnin-rose and produced within the designated area by parcel or part of parcels in the communes of Bourgheim, Gertwiller, Goxwiller, Heiligenstein and Obernai.
Bright colour with golden flecks.
Rich, aromatic palette. Its velvety, subtle aroma expresses tropical fruits (lychee), white fruits (apple), citrus, nuts (walnut, hazelnut, bitter almond), as well as vegetal aromas (fresh cut grass, hay). One also finds mineral character as well as buttery aromas, honey, spices and flowers.
Round and fruity, soft and floral with a touch of acidity, it increases in complexity over the years.
It is relatively easy to pair an entire meal uniquely with Klevener, while reserving an exceptional vintage for dessert, as the bouquet will develop sublimely with age. From aperitif through to dessert, and paired with anything from a simple fish course to spicy ethnic dishes and cheese, Klevener de Heiligenstein is a true food wine.
Klevener is synonymous with the varietal Savagnin Rose, which is the pink and non-aromatic variant of Savagnin Blanc B (Catalogue of varieties and clones of vines cultivated in France ENTAV, INRA, ENSAM, ONIVINS).
Large, bubbled, waffled. Angular serrations.
Small, with small berries.
Savagnin rose is similar to Gewurztraminer, although it is less susceptible to coulure. The production area is defined as “Au”, the area situated around the village of Heiligenstein, geologically made up of a mass of pebbles, sand and clay, south and south-east facing at an altitude of 200-300m (approx. 655 and 985 feet). The clay and silica-rich earth is dry and poor, naturally limiting the yield of Klevener.