BACKGROUND When two clones of Auxerrois (ohk-sair-wah) arrived in Oregon from Alsace in 1977, we had barely heard of ...Read more...
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BACKGROUND When two clones of Auxerrois (ohk-sair-wah) arrived in Oregon from Alsace in 1977, we had barely heard of the variety. Still, after tasting some experimental wines made at Oregon State University, our interest was piqued. It turns out that Auxerrois, like Chardonnay, Aligot, Gamay, and 10 other varieties, is a medieval cross between the noble Pinot noir grape of Burgundy and an ignoble variety, Gouais blanc. Auxerrois is the name of the duchy around the town of Auxerre, near Chablis, but the variety is not grown there now. In fact, there are probably only 500 acres of the variety worldwide. It is only a major variety in Luxembourg, where its early ripening is a real plus. It is considered a second-class citizen in Alsace,used somewhat interchangeably with Pinot blanc, but the occasional bottlings of this variety alone have remarkable purity.VINEYARDS Starting in the mid-1980s, we planted the variety sequentially at three different vineyard sites. Wines made from the first two plantings never gave us reason to bottle them on their own. However, our third planting, at our Ribbon Springs Vineyard, coincided with our increased understanding of how to grow and produce white wines in our region (specifically by avoiding drought stress in the vineyard and bitterness in our winemaking regime.) The Ribbon Springs block, just 1.65 acres, was planted in 1990. The 2003 vintage was the first significant crop.WINEMAKING The techniques to produce our Auxerrois mirror those of almost all our other white wines. The juice is gently pressed, it settles for one day, then is pumped into stainless steel tanks and 5% goes into an older barrel. Malolactic fermentation is prevented in order to retain as much of the gorgeous fresh fruit aromas as possible. The wine sits on lees (dead yeast cells) to gain more complexity and depth in flavor. This wine was bottled on April 19th, 2008.THE WINE When Auxerrois grapes become fully ripe, the resulting wine takes on aromas of quince, Asian pear and honey. A subtle minerality is present, followed up by great structure and backbone. The flavors are well integrated and balanced. Wonderful on its own as an apritif, it would also pair beautifully with shellfish, salmon or a triple cream cheese.PRODUCTION There were 708 cases of the 2007 Willamette Valley Auxerrois produced.
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