Auxerrois is an important grape in the scheme of Alsace wine, as well as for wines from Lorraine and Luxembourg, but beyond those confines, it is practically not in use (though there is currently more investment in it in Oregon). It is lumped in with Pinot Blanc in Alsace when the INAO takes the vine census (which is asinine given that Auxerrois covers more than twice the acreage of PB), and you may still hear it called Pinot Blanc throughout the region, but it is indeed a separate variety. In 1999, researchers at University of California-Davis determined through DNA analysis that it is the offspring of two vines that have together been prodigiously prolific with their progeny: Pinot and Gouais Blanc (a union which also gave us Chardonnay, among many others).
In Alsace it can produce exciting, vivid wine when yields are controlled either naturally by old vines or by humans with green harvesting (the cutting away of immature bunches in mid-summer). The vine has a tendency to produce copiously, however, so many Auxerrois on French grocery store shelves are vacuous, insipid wines. Well made Auxerrois, however, ages beautifully, acquiring a mint and honey tone after a decade or more the bottle.
According to the 2000 vine census, Alsace has 1,900 hectares of Auxerrois planted, which is at least twice as much as Pinot Blanc, and roughly the equivalent of Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris combined. We shall see if this remains true after the next census in 2010.
Sources for Auxerrois
Excellent sources of Auxerrois include: Albert Mann's Vieilles Vignes is in a class by itself--I have tasted fifteen-year-old versions that are astonishing; if Mark Kreydenweiss still makes the Kritt Klevner it was always a delight, but the wine that replaced it, Kritt Pinot Blanc, is potentially the same wine, but I am not certain; the Rolly Gassmann Auxerrois Moenchreben is exotic, shameless, and full-throated; the CV Cléebourg makes an archetypal Pinot Blanc Auxerrois Cuvée Prestige that, despite its name, is entirely Auxerrois. Outside of Alsace: The only Auxerrois I've seen on shelves in the US that was not from Alsace is the excellent Auxerrois from Adelsheim Vineyard.
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