Thursday, July 9, 2015

Bel Lago 2012 Auxerrois, Leelanau Peninsula

Auxerrois

It was the worst rainstorm in our 20 years of living in Toledo. Rain was pelting the highway and 40 mile per hour winds pushed our vehicle around the slickened road.

Those with less stout willpower would have headed back to the safety of home. But we had wine to taste – and we weren’t about to be stopped by a 100 year flood.

We were headed to visit tasting team member Dr. J and his wife Casey. As parents of a young child and busy professionals, it’s hard to find times when our schedules mesh. We finally had set an evening for tasting, and weren’t about to let torrential rain stop us.

A particular wine kept driving me on through the rain: Auxerrois. (Although not labeled as such, this is Auxerrois Blanc since in some parts of the world, Auxerrois is another name for Malbec – go figure.) The first challenge is figuring out how to pronounce it – it’s oh-zher-WHA. Next, you might enquire, what the heck is it?

Auxerrois is a white grape grown primarily in the Alsace region of France. However, this unique grape is also grown in Michigan. This bottle comes from Bel Lago Winery on Leelanau Peninsula near Traverse City. They were the first in the region to grow this variety, which is known as the “baby sister” of Chardonnay.

Although Bel Lago produces reds, including Pinot Noir, it excels with whites. Michigan is gaining a world class reputation for Riesling and other whites such as Gerwurztraminer and Chardonnay flourish there as well.

Much of the wine from the Leelanau Peninsula AVA is sweet – but the Auxerrois is refreshingly dry. An ample acidity gives a crispness to the wine, which has citrus and tropical flavor notes. The Auxerrois is aged in oak, so there is slight toasted flavor.

In short, this is an uncommon and refreshing wine. For a mere $19 SRP, you can sip a grape that sounds like a million bucks and tastes noteworthy as well.

Rating: 3 of 5  Value: 4 of 5

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