WHAT HAS 'ALI' GOTÉ?
Described by Jancis Robinson MW in her Wine Grapes book as
Burgundy’s tart ‘other’ white wine grape
With global warming Aligoté is less ‘tart’, more ‘tempting’. Five years ago we had just one Aligote on our list. This year we will have at least four if not five examples of this less well-known Burgundian grape variety. It’s not like we’ve actively been hunting down examples of this grape, more that excellent examples have jumped up and down in the sample glass, demanding attention thanks to their exceptional quality.
With pricing only going one way for Burgundian Chardonnay, those who enjoy the mineral led styles would do well to read on…
The tendency to be an early budder has created problems with early frosts for Aligote in the past. It still does today, But with warmer temperatures helping ripening and lending weight to an otherwise lean structure, drinkers of Burgundy are taking note.
The past saw Aligote shunned to the higher vineyards, it only does well in the best sites. The ability to translate terroir into the glass is a little heralded strength of this variety. Today, these higher vineyards are warm enough to produce real concentration in the wines. ‘Hey presto’ heads are turned.
Bourgogne and Bouzeron are the main appellations for Aligote. Bouzeron, in the Cote Chalonnaise being the more quality driven on paper, with lower yields enforced (45hl/ha v 60hl/ha for Bourgogne). Golden Aligote is the real gem, a clone from years ago, as the name suggests, golden in colour with smaller berries and greater concentration in the wines. Some of these Golden Aligote vines are over 100 years old. They excel in the limestone marl sites on the hillsides of Bouzeron. We particularly love the vineyard expressions of Les Clos (45 year old vines) and Les Courcelles (88 year old vines) from Xavier Moissenet at Les Champs de Themis (pictured).
Bouzeron may have the appellation for Aligoté, but producers across Burgundy are cultivating inherited vines, producing drinking wines for today’s consumer. Pictured (below for mobile) is Paul Zennetti of Domaine Comte Armand in Pommard. They produce a delicious example from 90 year old vines. This landed on our shores last week.
Crystalline flint tones, an elegance and more than a nod to good chardonnay make today’s Aligoté a real runner in the quality stakes. Pair with that a more palatable bottle price and you’re really onto a winner.
Our 2020 Burgundies are just landing now, most are sold out, but we do have some fantastic Aligotés there for the canny wine buyer. These whites could well become the ‘unsung’ hero of Burgundy, stepping in to fill our glasses without emptying our purses. With the ability to age and evoke nutty, smokey nuances, drinkers will soon know exactly what
‘Ali’ has ‘goté’