Wine Tasting Club — Auxerrois
This grape is a tough one to crack. Not actually unknown, Auxerrois pops up in unexpected places, like in bottles of Pinot Blanc where it adds depth and body, It’s certainly not one of the more well-known grapes used to make wine. Auxerrois is a white grape that’s grown in Alsace, Germany and even Luxembourg. It’s a cool climate grape, meaning that it can handle temperatures as cold as -15°C before it goes to that great vineyard in the sky. (Read more about cool climate grapes in the May/June 2010 issue of Tidings Magazine).
Auxerrois has led a very mysterious kind of existence over the last century. For instance, it didn’t become internationally known until someone found that certain cuttings of South African Chardonnay grapes were actually Auxerrois. That’s not as outlandish a situation as you might at first expect. This grape has had a varied and checkered past!
Below are some of the name changes and aliases that Auxerrois has adopted over the years.
• Auxerrois is the name for Malbec (a black grape) in Cahors, France.
• It’s also the name of the white grape grown in large quantity in Alsace.
• Say Auxerrois Gris, and the good people of Alsace will think you’re talking about Pinot Gris.
• In Moselle, Auxerrois Blanc refers to the Chardonnay grapes grown there.
• Throughout Northeastern France (which, by the way, also includes Alsace) and Luxembourg, Auxerrois is the name for another very popular and totally distinct grape that’s grown there.
Confused? Don’t worry. The next time you find yourself perusing the bottles at your local wine store, look for wines containing Auxerrois and see if you can discern its inherent flavours of melon and peach.