Nestled in the heart of the picturesque wine regions of Alsace, Luxembourg, and the Leelanau Peninsula, there lies a grape variety that exudes elegance and sophistication: the Auxerrois. This relatively lesser-known but incredibly versatile grape has been quietly producing exceptional wines for generations, capturing the essence of its unique terroir. In this blog, we embark on a delightful journey to explore the charm and characteristics of the Auxerrois grape, unveiling its rich history, its exceptional qualities, and the delightful wines it yields. Join us as we uncork the secrets behind this hidden gem of the wine world and discover why Auxerrois deserves a place in your wine collection.
While the origin of Auxerrois, pronounced awk-ser-WAH, is unknown, it can be found in several areas including France, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Luxembourg with a handful of plantings in North America and South Africa. But, wine experts explain that this delicious wine variety can be found most at home in Alsace, France. The cooler climates in the north area of this region help this low-acid variety achieve good levels of freshness.
(This is a map of the Alsace Wine Region in Alsace, France. Graphic courtesy of Wine Folly)
This region is similar to the Leelanau Peninsula because of the cool climate. The Leelanau Peninsula is located on the 45th Parallel. All of the vineyards managed by the parent company of Aurora Cellars, Simpson Family Estates, are located within a five mile radius of Lake Michigan.
Since the lake rarely completely freezes over, our vines are able to take advantage of the moderating influence for the surrounding temperatures that create an ideal macro-climate for world class wine grapes.
The vineyard in which Auxerrois grows for Aurora Cellars also has Chardonnay growing in it. Wine Enthusiast explains that genetic testing suggests that Chardonnay is a sibling to Auxerrois due to both being hybrids of Pinot Noir and Gouais Blanc. In the Moselle region of France, Chardonnay is often called Auxerrois Blanc.
A lot of the time, Auxerrois is used in the sparkling wines of Crémant d’Alsace, where it is typically blended with Pinot Blanc. Due to its early ripening with low acidity, Auxerrois is the perfect variety to blend with more acidic varieties like Pinot Blanc and Edelzwicker.
Wine experts explain that is it a common practice for a wine labeled “Pinot Blanc” to have a high quantity of Auxerrois in it – which is permitted by the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée. These two varieties work well together because Pinot Blanc tends to be straightforward and high in acidity while Auxerrois is generally low in acidity and round in flavor.
Compared to Pinot Blanc, Auxerrois is more full bodied and less crisp but this doesn’t prevent the two varieties from complementing each other’s weaknesses.
When yields are restricted, this variety can produce quality wine that has plenty of citrus flavors with a rich, musky aroma profile. If you let it age before opening, you will experience honeyed flavors and the wine will deepen in color. Unfortunately, weaker examples of this delicious wine can come off as quite vegetal and flabby, out of balance and lacking in intensity.
The 2022 Auxerrois at Aurora Cellars is new to the lineup this season. Drinkers will enjoy citrus and peach aromas from the first sniff of the delicious wine. Our winemaking team fermented the juice with a classic Burgundian yeast and passively aged it on light lees before bottling.
If you are looking to pair a glass of Auxerrois with a delicious meal, you can’t go wrong with a simple dish. This can range from fish to white meats to poultry. This wine also goes well with egg-based dishes like omelets, eggs Benedict, and quiches. You can’t go wrong with a nice soft cheese on a charcuterie board either.