Maker: Bel Lago, Cedar, Leelanau County, Michigan, USA
Place of origin: Bel Lago estate, Leelanau Peninsula AVA, Michigan, USA
Price: $19 (website price for 2012 vintage)
Nose: Cut golden apple, peach, pear, leather.
Palate: Full bodied, dry. Subtle pear, cantaloupe, a drop of brown butter.
Finish: A little tangy and a little sweet, then a touch of smoke as it fades.
Parting words: Auxerrois is not a grape that finds its way onto labels very much. It’s a member of the Pinot family grapes. According to geneticists, Auxerrois shares the same parentage as Chardonnay, making it something of a fraternal twin. It’s primarily grown in Alsace in eastern France, where it is one of the most commonly grown varieties (in 2008, it was grown on twice the acreage of Pinot Blanc). Alsace is between Burgundy and Germany geographically and wino-graphically. It is best known for its white wines which include Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Riesling. Where does that leave Auxerrois? There’s a strange quirk in French wine laws that allows Alsatian wines labeled Pinot Blanc to contain any white wine from the Pinot family. Auxerrois is one of the most popular choices for Pinot Blanc, whether blended with Blanc and Gris or even all by itself(!). It brings Chard-like mouthfeel and fruit to the blend as a counterpoint Pinot Blanc’s crispness.
Bel Lago became the first winery to plant Auxerrois in Michigan in 1987. They’ve treated it with care and made a great wine out of it, year after year. Pinot Blanc has been raised as a possible signature grape for Michigan but maybe its old pal Auxerrois is a better choice. Bel Lago Auxerrois is highly recommended.