VINO VERITAS: Aligoté: the humble sibling of renowned Chardonnay leading a wine revolution
Just last week I tasted a wine that was an affirmation of everything that led me on the path of a sommelier.
Wine has, and will continue to be, an exploration for me; of countries, styles, identities and innovation. If you think about the endless possibilities out there when it comes to wine grapes, you can pretty much guarantee that in today’s wine world, if it hasn’t already been achieved, it is definitely being attempted.
This is the beauty of wine: each grape has its own identity yet with so many faces. Tasting your way through them has seen the tide change in our wine drinking risk taking. While there are regions, wineries and even grape varietals that are ‘brands’ there are endless wines that have yet to be discovered. The problematic part is risking buying or opening a bottle that you may not be familiar with.
Aligoté is the humble sibling of renowned Chardonnay. Dating back to the 18th century, it has remained relatively unknown to most people, unless you have ever sampled a Kir. It is the traditional grape of the well-known aperitif. Aligoté is grown sparingly.
It makes appearances in Eastern Europe, California and Ontario, Canada, but its home is Burgundy, France, where it is undergoing somewhat of a revolution. In the right hands, Aligoté takes on an entirely different personality from thin, starkly acidic and rather neutral and comes to life with a lemon curd texture, an oak influenced nuttiness and a lingering finish, leaving you wanting more.
Aligoté is hot at the moment and that’s perhaps due to the prices of Chardonnay rising regularly in Burgundy. Or maybe it’s because people are getting adventurous in what they are willing to try? The finer examples of Aligoté come with a higher than average price tag but that’s all part of the exploration.
My ah-ha Aligoté was Philipe Pacalet Bourgogne Aligoté 2013. Truth be told I drank it just above cellar temperature and I think it showed best being drunk at a warmer than normal temperature. It needed a bit of time in the glass, but it was well worth the wait.
If you are up for trying something new, Aligoté is making appearances on restaurant lists and, from the right producer, can be very rewarding. It’s only right that it steps out from behind the veil of cassis.
Here are a few to keep an eye out for:
2016 Domaine Goisot Bourgogne Aligoté
2015 Sylvain Pataille Bourgogne Aligoté & 2015 Charmes aux Petres Aligoté
2013 Philipe Pacalet Bourgogne Aligoté
Morgan is sommelier and co-owner of the award-winning Barrow’s Keep restaurant in Thomastown, Co Kilkenny.
For more information or to make a booking, log on to: http://www.barrowskeep.com
Phone: 085 250 7461