Among the important villages along Alsace's Route du Vin, Ribeauvillé is certainly one of three essential stops. At a minimum, it is known for the majestic Rieslings produced there, thanks to several great estates and three Grands Crus (Geisberg, Kirschberg de Ribeauvillé, and Osterberg) on the north side of the village. The biggest and most famous estate is Trimbach, whose top wines are unsurpassed in quality, especially their two top Rieslings--Clos Ste.-Hune and Cuvée Frédéric Emile. Their spectacular Gewurztraminer Cuvée des Seigneurs de Ribeaupierre becomes even more fathomless when cellared for a decade or more. Other excellent stops include Jean Sipp and his cousin Louis Sipp. Jean's wines are a bit more approachable, but age beautifully, and Louis' wines are stiff and intense, but soften with ineffable grace after many years of cellaring. The local cooperative, CV Ribeauvillé is another great stop, with lovely wines (especially the Rieslings) from both Grands Crus and single vineyards, and an excellent blended wine from the Clos du Zahnacker, which is part of the Grand Cru Osterberg (though as a blend, it cannot be labeled as a Grand Cru).
Ribeauvillé is full of the history of Alsace. Its patriarchs of centuries ago, the Ribeaupierres, built castles that now stand in ruins over the village, and one of the three annual festivals celebrates these departed counts, who considered themselves the patrons of minstrels. The first Sunday in September is called the Fête des Ménétriers: the fountain in the main square is filled with wine, so you can revel with ease while musicians and entertainers parade through the streets to the delight of the crowds of visitors and locals alike. There is also a Fête du Kugelhopf in June, which celebrates the famous Alsatian brioche, where you can find the elusive and delicious kugelhopf au lard (a savory Kugelhopf made with bacon...mmmm!).
One of the world's greatest restaurants (Auberge de l'Ill) is a very short drive away in Illhaeusern, but there are several places that are more likely to keep you dining locally, for less expense. There are two local restaurants that I enjoy (Clos St.-Vincent--a hotel surrounded by vineyards that is a marvelous lunch spot; rooms are expensive though; Hotel les Voges--sensational value for such excellent food; rooms are reasonably priced), as well as a famous winstub, Zum Pfifferhüss, which is always busy (book in advance!).
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