Reinterpreting a rare grape in the Willamette Valley with Andy Young.
Andy Young started The Marigny in 2015 and he’s quickly built it into one of America’s most beloved natural wine brands. You’ve probably seen the wines around, whether you know it or not. But you might not have tasted them, because they disappear fast. It’s no surprise. The wines are made from sustainable farmed fruit, never manipulated in the cellar, and made in a drink now style that is meant to be refreshing and joyful. They are the type of wine that helped teach Americans that it’s pretty fun to chug natural wine in a park or by the pool, and it’s way better for you, and way more delicious than a White Claw.
So when Andy reached out to us right before harvest, we jumped at the opportunity to work with him. Andy’s a good friend, and a fantastic winemaker. He had found a new vineyard source for sustainably farmed Pinot Gris (a grape he always needs more of) but the vineyard also had a few stray acres of the obscure Auxerrois grape. Often in a situation like this, a winemaker would make the Auxerrois into wine and blend it into whatever else they had. The Auxerrois would be lost forever in an anonymous white blend. A grape life unfulfilled. But instead, Andy called us.
There was just one problem...
The Auxerrois grape is boring. There are scattered plantings of the grape throughout the Willamette Valley, but overall it’s pretty rare. Usually rare means cool, but in this case... blah. We’ve tasted many of the wines made from Willamette Valley Auxerrois and they never seem to have much to say. Just neutral white wine. Not even enough character to say ‘picnic wine’ or ‘pair with fish.’ The best you could say was that it has alcohol and can be drunk without spitting out. Pretty low bar. We’ve even tasted a ton of stuff from France, where the grape originates, and even those are honestly pretty boring. The coolest thing about Auxerrois is probably the spelling (An x! A double rr!) So ya, a throw away grape. A red delicious apple in a world of honey crisps.
“Having the courage to take in unique fruit and experiment with it in the cellar is the key to uncovering the unexpected”
What if the grapes’ true character, its potential for singularity, needed to be unlocked through a maceration of all its parts together? The juice, the stems, and the skin. Three become one. For the Auxerrois grape, maybe all along, skin was destiny. There was only one way to find out.
The Auxerrois grape is boring
Farmed in Southern Eola, Amity. LIVE Certified, has since converted to organic. 21 days on the skins to extract color, tannin and special sauce. Never punched down or pumped over. Pressed into barrel with gross and fine lees. Finished primary fermentation in barrel. No racking until bottling.
Sulfur added after malo.