A) French for “Syrah in oak”
B) A region in France
C) A fining process for red wines
D) A varietal in France
The answer is D) A varietal in France
Auxerrois (pronounced oaks sur wa) is a varietal with some history, some of it rather confusing. To start, it refers not only to a red AND a white grape in France, but also an area in France that was very prominent in the time of Charlemange. The red is a black-berried Malbec grown in Cahors. The white, which I’ll focus on, is grown in Alsace and is referred to as Auxerrois, Auxerrois Blanc (a historic name that’s thought to be a relative of Chardonnay, though as it turns out, not true), Auxerrois Gris (a synonym for Pinot Gris) or Pinot Auxerrois (how some winemakers label it today).
In fact, for many years, a bottle of Pinot Blanc was most likely Auxerrois, or at least had some blended in it. Since Auxerrois does not exactly fly off the tongue for non-French speakers, the marketing directive for this varietal was to label it as Pinot Blanc. It’s actually a close relative to Pinot Blanc, but has lower yields and can produce a more interesting wine. Today, winemakers who used to call their wines Pinot Blanc are now putting Auxerrois on the label and giving credit where it is due.