For many years Burgundy’s second white grape, Aligoté, was overlooked and over cropped – its capacity for huge yields abused. But no more! A new generation of Burgundian growers is determined to reimagine the variety and prove it is a great grape in its own right, with masses of character and, importantly, the ability to transmit its terroir.
Aligoté originated from a crossing of Pinot Noir and Gouais Blanc, a mostly forgotten white grape that nevertheless is an important ancestor of many of the grapes we enjoy today. It ripens early and, at least from the commercially available clones, is extremely productive. Sylvain Pataille once told me that yields of 100hl per ha, well over twice that of Chardonnay, were possible. What it can’t do, though, is yield so high and produce a characterful wine. For that, a much more ambitious approach is needed.
There are now a number of associations dedicated to raising the status of Aligoté, the Aligotéurs, of which Domaine Lignier is a part, is just one. What they share is a commitment to low yields, to retaining old vines, careful vinification and allowing Aligoté to take center stage in a way unimaginable to previous generations. With such careful and dedicated treatment, the results can be remarkable.
Below are three of my favourites. One of the things you will notice about them is the range of styles Aligoté can produce. With careful viticulture it conveys its origins clearly, giving a new translation of the site on which it grows. The other, I think, is their value – even from top domaines the price of these wines reflect Aligoté’s past rather than its future. This may not last, so let’s make the most of it while we can. Get to know these wines, and bin the Cassis!
To order simply email firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what you would like.
These wines are still in France and are offered In Bond, ex VAT and Duty. Full details can be found below.
All three will arrive soon and will provide refreshing and characterful drinking this summer, so make sure to stock up today.
Aligoté Rises Mixed Dozen
4 bottles of each wine
£142.00 In Bond (IB)
Domaine Buisson-Battault Bourgogne Aligoté 2020
Always one of the best Aligoté we offer, it just seems to be on a different level. It comes from two sites near Meursault- one parcel gives rich wines, while the other is always lean and fresh. Ripe, rich, yet plenty of freshness and tension. Citrussy acidity, good length, and a saline grip on the finish, showing its limestone roots. Top aligoté. From 2023.
Maison de la Chapelle Bourgogne Aligoté 2021
From two 35 year old vineyards in Chitry, growing on limestone clay over Kimmeridgian deposits – classic Chablis terroir in other words! Winemaker Gregory calls this a ‘liquor of limestone’. This shows in the wine, which is stony, dry, and refreshing, with a sense of cool fruit and a spine of electric saline acidity. Great zip and balance.
“The 2021 Bourgogne Aligoté is a fine success, delivering notes of citrus oil, linden, wet stones, and discreet notions of aromatic botanicals. Medium-bodied, bright, and precise, it’s a nicely balanced, attractive wine that concludes with a chalky finish.”
William Kelley The Wine Advocate 21.07.2022
Domaine Hubert Lignier Bourgogne Aligoté Aux Poirelots Bio 2021
These old vines, planted in 1942-43, are the secret to this wine’s depth and quality, as well as Domaine Lignier’s meticulous organic viticulture. Laurent Lignier is a strong believer in Aligoté. Planted just below Morey on just 50cm of clay above free draining gravel. This gives a raciness to the wine, a freshness, which is emphasised by its stainless steel elevage. This is a striking, direct Aligoté, quite leanly structured and taut, stony, with the flesh of fruit to balance and an old vine concentration and sense of the soil.