The Under-Appreciated Workhorse of Burgundy
Even the most loyal Burgundy followers can be forgiven for forgetting about Aligoté. Chardonnay’s dominance, in both vineyard space and visibility, have relegated this other indigenous variety to a distant background. Given a fine ripe vintage, however, Aligoté can offer up some seriously good quality and value to Burgundy lovers.
Good examples show apple blossom, green apple, pear, and lemon zest.
Can also have a nice mineral backbone, although always rounder than Chardonnay.
Aligoté produces the dry white Bourgogne Aligoté AOC. In the best years it can be a very good value substitute for Bourgogne AOC, made from Chardonnay.
Aligoté’s high acidity make it very important in the production of the sparkling Crémant De Bourgogne AOC.
Aligoté, whether still or sparkling, is often mixed with cassis to produce the eponymous French classic, the kir.
Aligoté has consistently high acidity, which needs to be managed to make good wine. If yields are too high, or the vintage is cold or wet, this can lead to problems, however a good vintage produces wines with love body, minerality and structure.
Aligoté pairs well with white fish or white meat dishes, and can cope with butter or cream based sauces. It’s also very useful for dishes with lots of herbs in the recipe, like the Burgundy classic of Jambon Persillaide.
FRANCE – Burgundy
Aligoté is in a difficult position. Its vigorous growth and variable yields need the best slopes and near perfect growing conditions to show itself as a top-quality wine. Unfortunately the weather cannot be consistently relied upon, and therefore Chardonnay is much more profitable to plant on the better (middle) slopes, so Aligoté is often relegated to the higher or lower slopes.
Still, there is increasing and renewed interest in the variety with many producers investing in bringing it back and allowing it to express its full potential.
Aligoté became very popular in the USSR due to its high vigour. Ex-eastern bloc countries are now trying to make the best of the plantings, with good wines coming out of Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, and Georgia.