Dry, crisp white wine aligoté sees revival in Burgundy 

Chardonnay might be the dominant white wine variety in Burgundy but aligoté is no slouch, and it seems to be enjoying a small revival there.

A cross between pinot noir and gouais blanc (a now nearly extinct grape that also claims chardonnay as one of its offspring), aligoté was first documented in the Burgundy region of France in the 1700s. Prior to the phylloxera epidemic of the late 19th century in France, there was a lot grown, but when the vineyards were replanted aligoté fell out of favor because as a late-ripening grape it was less reliable, a potentially disastrous quality in a region that is always at risk for rain.

Nonetheless, it has survived in a number of spots throughout Burgundy where it has been blended with other white grapes and vinified all by itself. Aligoté has also been the traditional grape used in kirs, a white wine-based cocktail named after the post World War II mayor of Dijon, Félix Kir.

Naturally high in acidity, aligoté is an invigorating sponge for its soil and it is characterized by its piquant minerality. If you enjoy dry, crisp white wines, it really is a perfect choice.

Here are three of the best that you should be able to find in the Bay Area:

Céline & Laurent Tripoz Bourgogne Aligoté, 2011: Céline and Laurent Tripoz have 27 acres in the town of Loche in the Maconnais in southern Burgundy. They started making wine in 1990, stopped using chemicals in the vineyards in 2001 and have operated as Eco (organic) and Demeter (biodynamic) since 2011. An ever-so-slightly fruity version of aligoté with minor citrus notes, its fragrant minerality nonetheless steals the day. Suggested retail: $25

Domaine de Moor Bourgogne Aligoté, 2012: Alice and Olivier de Moor planted their first three vineyards in the Chablis district of Burgundy a quarter-century ago, and in 2005 they converted to organic viticulture. They are now biodynamic as well. Made from 17-year-old vines in Chitry-Le-Fort, a small village near Chablis, this aligoté has some body without sacrificing a laser-like focus. Zesty with minerality, it is a great way to prime the palate at the beginning of a meal. Suggested retail: $25

Domaine A&P de Villaine Bouzeron de Aligoté, 2012: Aubert de Villaine is the co-owner of Domaine de la Romanée Conti, one of Burgundy’s most celebrated properties. In spite of being at the helm of this noblesse, he and his wife, Pamela, have been living in the town of Bouzeron in the Côte Chalonnaise for four decades. In 1971 they established A&P de Villaine, which in stark contrast to Domaine de la Romanée Conti makes simple and much more affordable wines. Villaine’s aligoté was the first one I ever tried and I’ve never had a vintage that was not on point. Racy with a fresh minerality from the nose to the finish, this is a great wine to begin your aligoté journey. Suggested retail: $30

Some of these wines can be found at Bi-Rite Grocery, Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, K&L Wine Merchants and Ruby Wines.

Pamela S. Busch has been working in the wine industry since 1990 as a writer, educator and consultant and co-founded Hayes & Vine Wine Bar and Cav Wine Bar & Kitchen. In 2013, she launched TheVinguard.com, a blog covering a variety of wine-related topics.

About The Author

Pamela S. Busch

Pamela Busch has been working in the wine industry since 1990 as a writer, educator and consultant and co-founded Hayes & Vine Wine Bar and Cav Wine Bar & Kitchen. In 2013, she launched TheVinguard.com.
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