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The Aligoté Grape


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About Aligoté

(Synonyms: Aligotte, Alligotay, Alligoté, Alligotet, Beaunié, Beaunois, Carcairone, Chaudenet Gras, Giboulot, Giboudot, Griset Blanc, Mahranauli, Plant de Trois, Plant Gris, Troyen Blanc, Vert Blanc.)

Background

Map showing the Burgundy region of France.

Aligoté is a white-wine grape originating in the valley of the Saône River in France. Today, it is grown almost exclusively in Burgundy, in the Côte d'Or region and southward, and also to some degree in the Chablis region. Because Burgundy’s star grapes, Chardonny and Pinot Noir, are such highly valued grapes, Aligoté (where grown at all) is almost always relegated to the poorest parcels of vineyard land, leading to its often being called “Chardonnay’s poor sister”.

Aligoté has had a tough row to hoe: because the world market is so grossly oriented to Chardonnay as the premiere white wine, Chard goes for high—stupendous when actually from Burgundy—prices. The consequence is that poor Aligoté, which does not have anything like that cachet, is grown in the poorest areas (usually at the top or bottom of a slope), and even there, Aligoté is slowly giving way to Chardonnay. It is widely believed by winemakers that Aligoté, if grown on the soils Chardonnay is, and given the vineyard and winemaking attention Chardonnay commands, could produce wines as good as Chardonnay (better a few whisper). But it is not so, and almost certainly never will be so.

So: is Aligoté just a lost cause? A thin, acidic, bland nothing? No. And that is because there remain a handful of producers who respect the variety and take the trouble to do their best with it. The center of such activity is the village of Bouzeron in the like-named commune in the Saône-et-Loire department of Burgundy; and there is now a French AOC (appellation d’origine contrôlée) also named Bouzeron. Wines labelled “Bouzeron” must, by French law, be 100% Aligoté. And one can assume that if a winemaker troubles to produce a Bouzeron, he or she is dedicated to that grape.

Well-made Aligotés, whether Bouzerons or not, tend ot be acidic and mineral—“steely” one might say. They also can, and should, exhibit terroir, because Aligoté is quite as capable as Chardonnay at presenting terroir. Aside from acidity and minerality, the typically wines have a slightly herbal quality, and often a light touch of citrus (usually lemon). They are well worth sampling.

Factoid: There are several Aligoté wines that can command over $100 a bottle—one over $500.

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Some Descriptions of Aligoté Wines

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Some Aligotés to Try

(About this list.)

Guilhem & Jean-Hugues Goisot Aligoté

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Marcel Giraudon Bourgogne Aligoté

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Olivier Leflaive Aligoté

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Chanzy Bouzeron “Les Trois” Aligoté
(Don’t confuse this with their basic Bouzeron: this is their “Les Trois” bottling.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Yves Boyer-Martenot Aligoté

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks

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For a Splurge

We could find no reasonably available Aligoté wines better enough than those listed above as to justify a “splurge” price.

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This page was last modified on Monday, 23 March 2020, at 3:52 pm Pacific Time.