Alsatian Auxerrois – Say That Five Times Fast!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016 8:18 PM


2014 Pinot Auxerrois From Saint-Rémy
What is Pinot Auxerrois? Pinot Auxerrois is a grape that is planted extensively throughout the Alsatian region of France. It is not always labelled as such as it is legal under AOC Alsace appellation laws to label it under the more commonly recognized Pinot Blanc. Many people will explain that Auxerrois is a clone of Pinot Blanc but that is not accurate. In fact Pinot Auxerrois is an offspring of Pinot Blanc, which is a white-berried mutation of Pinot Noir, and is a sibling to Chardonnay, Aligote and Melon de Bourgogne. Pinot Auxerrois has smaller berries than Pinot Blanc so then when yields are limited, a truly interesting wine can be made like the 2014 Pinot Auxerrois from Domaine Saint-Rémy.
Saint-Rémy’s bottling of Pinot Auxerrois comes from the single-vineyard, Val St. Gregoire. Val St. Gregoire is close to Grand Cru Brand, has southern exposure and the soils are more granitic. I remember when Philippe Ehrhart, proprietor of Domaine Saint-Rémy, visited us at the store in the summer of ’14 and explained these facts. He also made a point of saying that at Saint-Rémy they do not use commercial yeasts, and give a very gentle pressing to the grapes to get pure, clean juice. The Pinot Auxerrois stays on the lees for 6-8 months before bottling. The Ehrharts have taken their centuries old domaine to new heights by converting to organic farming. They became certified organic in 2010 and certified biodynamic in 2012. Phillipe and family are strong advocates of this movement in their region. This fastidious stewardship of the land is rooted in tradition but is also a very real solution to climactic and ecological threats.
As I mentioned above, Pinot Auxerrois has smaller berries than Pinot Blanc with a higher skin to juice ratio so when made well there is good structure, fruit and acidity. Both Pinot Auxerrois and Pinot Blanc can get flabby (true for most of us!) if not taken care of properly. I find the Saint-Rémy Pinot Auxerrois to have plenty of fruit flavors – peach, apricot – a nice bitter tinge and freshness to the finish.This combination makes it delicious to enjoy by the glass sans food or easily adaptable to appetizers. I was particularly impressed at how well it went with my usual Friday Night Fish Fry of baked sole. Typically I reach for something with a leaner fruit profile, but the wine carried the dish beautifully without overpowering it. I’d say go ahead and serve this with poultry and light pork dishes too. It is really quite versatile.

I’ve survived a full month of back to school scheduling. Twice I’ve forgotten it was my turn in the carpool to do “drop-off”. In a moment of panic, my daughter is surprising compliant at jumping in the car with a hastily clad mother. My husband has been cracking himself up by reenacting my reaction when I finally figure out that theyare not the ones late…I am! So when Friday rolls around, and I finally have a moment to myself, you might find me on the front porch with a glass in hand. This week the 2014 Pinot Auxerrois Val St. Gregoire was a lovely reward to a busy week. The golden, honeyed fruit mirrored the soft hues of the autumn sun’s rays. Aahh, the restorative nature of wine!– Anya Balistreri

July 2010 Dirty Dozen

Saturday, July 10, 2010 3:44 PM

Long weekends make for short weeks. And now that we’re through with ours, we can think about celebrating all the great things July and summer have in store for us! Been to a farmers’ market lately? Go. Now. Bastille Day is coming up, and this month’s DD has plenty of French wines for anyone’s palate. Just be sure to wear a smile. A sante.

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2009 Torrontes, Inacayal $13.99, $11.19 reorder
Torrontes has emerged as Argentina’s numero uno white variety. Its blossomy aromatics and melon-like mouthfeel are a hit with wine lovers the world over. The fruit is sourced from vines grown at 3000 feet which keep natural acidity levels where they should be to balance the herbal, fruity, and floral flavors. A sure-fire hit with a spicy Thai salad.

2008 Chardonnay ‘Lalande’, Grassa Family Vineyards $12.59, $10.07 reorder
If you did a Google Image search for ‘Yves Grassa’, one of the first photos you’ll come across is of Monsieur sporting quite the mercenary look; trimmed beard, scarf, hat, and cigarette dangling from his mouth. He is quite the pioneer; planting 60 acres of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc in what is otherwise Armagnac Brandy turf. Shrimp Louie here?

2008 Domaine de Pouy $8.99, $7.19 reorder
Light, crisp, perfect for summer sipping, the Domaine de Pouy has a big following around here! Just ask Anya, and she’ll proudly tell you that this was her wedding white. Also, during the seminal days of this very Dirty Dozen, she felt that this wine was so dang good that it was included in EVERY installment. Pair it with good company and a warm day.

2007 Pinot Auxerrois, Domaine Ehrhart $16.59, $13.27 reorder
Pinot Auxerrois is a clone of Pinot Blanc, and the Val St. Gregoire is an optimal growning region for the variety. Philippe Ehrhart coaxes perfect balance of fruit and acidity out of his wines … and the 2007 vintage in Alsace was stellar.

2008 Domaine de la Petite Cassagne Blanc $11.99, $9.59 reorder
It’s very tough to find good quality White Rhone wine for such a price, but then, that’s what we do around here – we find great wines for great prices! 40% Rolle and 60% Grenache Blanc make up the blend, serve it with roast chicken.

2009 Touraine Rose, Domaine des Corbillieres $14.99, $11.99 reorder
Rose made from 100% Pinot Noir? Mais oui! Of the Roses we bring in every year, this one is usually the first to go. Perfect balance of herbs, spice, a hint of berry fruit, and lively acidity makes this a perfect match for exotic cuisine.

2005 Trassegum, Domaine d’Or et des Gueules $21.99, $17.59 reorder
Wow! Really? Diane’s top cuvee in the DD??!! Yes. You’ve got 50% strict selection Syrah, blended with 25% old vine Carignan and Mourvedre. After bottling, she holds back release, at her own expense, because she feels the wines need to be ready when they hit the market. Ready to drink? Yes. Capable of aging? You bet. This could easily go another 10 years with proper storage. Can’t wait that long? No problem. Be sure to give it some food, like smoked tri-tip!

2005 Palombieres, Domaine Montpezat $13.99, $11.19 reorder
Q. What’s our friendliest red wine, under $15, that one can serve as a ‘cocktail wine’, meaning that it doesn’t necessarily need food accompaniment? A. Why the 2005 Palombieres from Montpezat, of course. A blend of Mourvedre and Grenache, it is loaded with juicy fruit, yet has a briary backbone that will keep it in the game should a pizza show up.

2004 Cabernet/Syrah, Mas Carlot $9.95 sale price, $9.45 reorder
Another showing off briary, raspberry patch fruit, this one benefits from the healthy dose of Cabernet Sauvignon which gives it some extra stuffing to stand up to whichever red meat you may choose to plop on that grill. It has some bottle age which gives it some interesting secondary characteristics. Best with a juicy steak, but interesting on its own also.

2009 Grenache Campo de Borja, Quo $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
Okay, we can’t do ALL French this month, in spite of Bastille Day right around the corner, so we’ll toss in one from south of the border; in this case, Spain. This juicy little number will make you do a double take; it’s got mineral and a hint of herbs, all wrapped up in a spicy, fruity profile. If you have a need for a spicy, juicy Tuesday night wine, here it is!

2007 Merlot, St. Antoine $10.99, $8.79 reorder
Not that the southern Rhone hasn’t had its share of great vintages in the past 12 years (one exception), but along came 2007 which blew everyone’s socks off. It was such a good vintage, that the normally easy quaffers from the environs are showing great complexity. This Merlot sings of earth and bright fruit … how can one procure a bbq duck breast?

2008 Syrah/Grenache, Vignobles Boudinaud $11.99, $9.59 reorder
Fresh off the boat, this blend actually includes a dollop of Mourvedre which gives it a little truffle-like backbone. People from the south of France are obviously used to shopping for fresh ingredients from the vegetable stands to the boucheries, and are keen to have a high-quality, inexpensive bottle of vin de table for dinner. So this year, on Bastille Day, make like a southern French denizen; grab a baguette along with your meal, and a bottle of this!

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