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Pinot Blanc and Auxerrois of Alsace

Two of a kind

Pinot Blanc are two grapes that are not related to each other. However, the reason why they are treated together is that legally, Pinot Blanc is a term that includes Auxerrois (but not the opposite..). As a consequence, many wines sold as Pinot Blanc are made entirely from Auxerrois. Confusing? Then you really need to read this!

All in all, Pinot Blanc is grown on 2000 ha in Alsace, while Auxerrois covers 1100. In the official statistics, these numbers are lumped together.

Pinot Blanc − the white sheep of the family

Pinot blanc has either appeared as a mutant of Pinot Noir, or as a mutant of Pinot Gris, which in turn is a mutant of the notoriously genetically instable black pride of Bourgogne. In Germany, Pinot Blanc is known as Weissburgunder, quite logically. Pinot Blanc is also common in northern Italy, where it is called Pinot Bianco and give light, fresh everyday wines. It also grown in eastern Europe and the USA.

In Alsace, Pinot Blanc is not considered a "e;grand cépage"e;. Its main use is in Edelzwicker and Crémant. The main growing area is on the Plain d´Alsace.

It is important to understand that in Alsace, Pinot Blanc is the common term for white wine produced from Pinot Blanc, Auxerrois, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir in any proportions. In fact, one is most sure to get a pure Pinot Blanc if the label states Clevner.

Exemples of non-Pinot Blanc Pinot Blanc are abundant, as many Pinot Blanc are 100% Auxerrois. Furthermore Marcel Deiss of Bergheim markets a Pinot Blanc that is made out of Auxerrois, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir, boosted by some surmaturation and without a trace of Pinot Blanc itself.

All in all, tasting is the only way to figure out what kind of wine that is hidden behind the Pinot Blanc label.


The origin of Auxerrois is unknown. It shares the spelling with the town Auxerrois in Chablis, but the pronunciation of the name of the grape variety should include a sharp X-sound, as in "extra".

Auxerrois has more body than Pinot Blanc. At worst it is heavy-wight and flabby. It is said that Auxerrois takes on a more restrained and crisp character in the slightly cooler climate north of Bergheim, which makes sense.

Pure Auxerrois typically has an aroma of cabbage, not exactly what you look for in a white wine.

It is not uncommon that you see Auxerrois on the label although it is not legal. It can be seen as a good example of how pragmatic INAO can act, or not act.

At least two renowned producers market Auxerrois with disguised Grand Crus deignation. The most famous is Josmeyers Auxerrois "e;H"e; from Hengst. According to the same principle, André Kientzler just outside Ribeauvillé has a Auxerrois "K" from Kirchberg. The price tag of these wines are in the range of €10-14 (2006).