It’s not an easy task to find an Auxerrois table wine (or Crémant) in Alsace, even though the variety’s origin is—almost always—Alsace-Lorraine. On the other hand, it’s not any easier to find an Alsace Pinot Blanc that does not contain a more or less prominent amount of Auxerrois. In fact, for Alsatian wine producers, both varieties are not the same, even though “the name Auxerrois has been given to several distinct varieties of Northeastern France“ (Wine Grapes by Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding and Jose Vouillamoz, 2012). For example: Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay, which in the vineyard look pretty much like Auxerrois, were all mixed up for a long time. However, in the bottle, Auxerrois rarely exists without Pinot Blanc or vice versa. Many Alsatian producers find that the acidity and straight character of Pinot Blanc wines need the lush and round fruit, as well as the low and charming acidity of Auxerrois, which otherwise would be too broad and fat without the acidic kick and straightforwardness of Pinot Blanc. So to most Alsatian wine producers, the assemblage of both varieties tastes better and more harmonious than each component individually. However, there are some prominent Auxerrois partisans: the Meyer sisters...
In Germany, Sylvaner is anything but a rare grape variety. In fact, this centuries-old cross of Traminer and the now largely unknown Österreichisch Weiss played a prominent for during hundreds of years in Germany—as well as in Alsace, Switzerland (where today it is better known as Johannisberger), the Val d’Isarco of Alto Adige (Northern Italy) and certainly Austria.
Don't miss Stephan Reinhardt's extensive Best of 2016 list, which includes his favorites from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Champagne and the Loire Valley—as well as value wines recommendations, his favorite wine experiences of the year and a bit of camping in Alsace!