Off the Grid: Aligoté
Let's take a brief hiatus from our Tour de Spain because there's a grape that I really want to write about: Aligoté. This white grape variety is grown in Burgundy and because it only accounts for about 5% of the plantings in the region, it seems to be lost in the shadow of the king and queen of Burgundy - Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. It's the proverbial black sheep of the Burgundy family. Actually, it's more like the mysterious and adventurous cousin that no one really talks about because they're off the grid of social media. Too cool for geolocations, hashtags, and filters, they're off doing their own thing and not caring who knows about it.
Aligoté did not produce great quality wines in the past, but recent years have shown a shift in style from high acid, one dimensional wines to fresh tasting and more complex wines. The grape is grown in or near a few famous appellations, such as Chablis and some villages within the world-renowned Côte d'Or region.
I happened to have a bottle of Francois Carillon Bourgogne Aligoté 2011 sitting in my wine fridge, true to the grape's current status: forgotten. This producer grows Aligoté in Puligny-Montrachet, which is a village in Côte de Beaune, which is part of the Côte d'Or. That's probably very confusing. Let me try that again. Burgundy has a hierarchy of appellations and the more specific the location (some even right down to the specific vineyard), the greater the quality and price. The Côte d'Or is in the northern portion of Burgundy and is divided into the Côte de Beaune (famous for its white wines) and the Côte de Nuits (famous for its red wines). Puligny-Montrachet is a village within the Côte de Beaune and makes arguably the finest dry white wines in the world using Chardonnay. So, my thoughts are that Aligoté should be pretty tasty grown here.
Now, I beg to differ with those that say an Aligoté wine is not meant to age because this wine held onto some really nice layers of flavor. I tasted peach, pear, lemon, green apple, nutmeg, and on top of these notes I also found that it had a lovely white floral aroma. The acidity was undoubtedly high, but it was not bracing or unpleasant and I actually think that it complemented the delicate flavors of the wine nicely. While certainly not on par with the fine Burgundian wines made with Chardonnay, I think Aligoté is a hidden gem and a great way to sneak into the Côte d'Or on the cheap.
Francois Carillon Bourgogne Aligoté 2011: Thumbs up! Because this wine was in my fridge for a number of years I don't have a specific price for you, but the current vintage retails near $20.
Now excuse me while I put Aligoté back on the grid by slapping it on Instagram and hashtagging the crap out of it.