While bargain is a relative term in Burgundy these days, the savvy buyer finds plenty to love in Aligoté, the region's unsung variety.

Aligoté - Summer's Secret Weapon

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Is Aligoté having a moment? Perhaps. We'd like to think so and it certainly deserves one. Burgundy drinkers have been faced with steadily rising prices for fifteen years and it's become increasingly tough to find affordable but high-quality wines. This has not gone unnoticed by growers, who are looking to the previously maligned Aligoté as an opportunity to produce and sell some white wine at a lower cost than the Chardonnay that seems to continue ever upward.

It's worth mentioning that Burgundy generally is in the middle of a grand shift. Climate change, an explosion in the price of both land and wines, and a generational handoff have all converged to reshape the viticultural landscape. The region's young growers and winemakers have embraced organic and biodynamic farming on a level that was unthinkable twenty years ago. A more precise understanding of the regions's various terroirs, changing tastes, and improvements in winemaking technology have all helped produce fresher wines that emphasize energy over power. Lastly, the rise in wine prices (revolving around a small number of producers) since the 2005 vintage has in turned raised the cost of land by a magnitude in the region's heart.

Enter Aligoté. Dismissed for decades as inferior to Chardonnay and worthy only of a splash of Cassis and an ice cube, the steady toil of a few dedicated producers has shone a bright light on this grape's potential. With its high natural acidity and a tendency to ripen early, it is capable of producing wines that feel elegant and savory even as vintages grow warmer and harvest dates earlier. Aligoté's flavor profile leans towards citrus and delicate white flowers like honeysuckle and relatively low alcohol makes the resulting wines ideal poolside companions as we zoom into summer. But they are still Burgundy and when treated seriously are fully capable of displaying the region's unique mineral character and deliniating terroir. These wines can be amazingly salty and will make a great complement to nearly whatever you fancy cooking.

Lastly, don't be afraid to lay a couple of these down. As an example, Domaine de Villaine (based in Bouzeron, the variety's only dedicated appellation) is as close to a blue-chip Aligoté as exists and is as responsible as anyone for the grape's recent success. While their wines are are at the high end of the range here, not only does the quality level makes them a relative steal but they are supremely age-worthy. At dinner at the estate some years ago, a pair of older Bouzeron wines ('92 and '85) put on a stellar show and outshone a much more prestigious white Burgundy from a very famous D(rc)OMAINE.

Sam Ehrlich

Goisot, Guihelm & Jean-Hugues 2018 Bourgogne Aligoté

Goisot is perhaps best known for their Sauvignon de St. Bris, considered a benchmark for the appellation, as well as riveting Cote d'Auxerre chardonnays that often outperform wines from neighboring Chablis. The Aligoté often goes overlooked, which is a shame, as it is firmly of a piece with the other wines in the range. The 2018 shows the weight of the vintage without obscuring the distinct character of limestone soils. This gleams white-green in the glass and the nose displays lime zest, under-ripe pear. white lilies and something I can only describe as dust from blackboard eraser. On the palate there is more citrus, white pepper, tarragon and a salty chalky finish. This will make a lovely aperitif and a welcome companion to oysters and clams this summer. Sam Ehrlich

(This is a pre-arrival and will be available for delivery starting Friday).

  • white
  • 31 in stock
  • $20.99

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Chantereves 2018 Bourgogne Aligoté Les Chagniots

Guillaume and Tomoko Bott of Maison Chantre^ves have made quite  a name for themselves over the past few years, carefully seeking out organic fruit sources and making small lots of red and white Burgundy that emphasize purity and freshness over all else. The 2018 "Chagniots" Bourgogne Aligoté is a case in point. This is a parcel of vines just north of Ladoix, less than a fifth of a hectare, farmed organically and largely untilled. The wine is vinified and aged in older barrels without batonnage and very little sulfur. The resulting wine is exceptional - redolent with lemon, orange oil and a touch of under-ripe apricot. There is undoubtedly a sense of oak here but it is balanced with plenty of acidity. The minerality that one associates with the variety is on full display. This is built to age and will reward patience.      Sam Ehrlich

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $44.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Chevrot 2018 Bourgogne Aligote "Quatre Terroirs"

The Chevrot wines are perennial favorites around these parts and for good reasons. The Chevrot brothers make wines full of energy and personality, with a clear sense of place. The 2018 "Quatre Terroirs" is classic Aligoté - pungent with lemon and seashells and a touch of toasted sesame on the palate. The finish is bright and salty, with something that reminds me of sherbet at the very end. This is lovely and sluggable and practically begging for a clam roll.

Sam Ehrlich

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $23.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic

Cruchandeau, Julien 2018 Bouzeron Aligoté Cuvee Massale

Julien Cruchandeau's stock is rising fast among Burgundy insiders. He has developed a reputation for thoughtful and careful work, in the vines and in the cellar, making wines that ultimately drink far above what one might expect from humble appellations. This 2018 Bouzeron is a case in point. The vines are massale selections from the vineyards of Domaine de Villaine and average more than 60 years old.  He vinifies a small percentage in barrel and leaves the rest in tank. The result is shockingly good. The nose suggests lime, with hints of fennel and wildflowers. But listing descriptors is almost beside the point here. What is really notable is the intense sense of structure and minerality - there is great density, almost a chewiness to the material and an intensely chalky finish. There is no shortage of acidity either, even in such a warm vintage. This is fabulous value and not to be missed. Sam Ehrlich

(This is a pre-arrival and will be available for delivery starting Friday).

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $26.99

  • Organic

De Villaine, A.et P. 2018 Bouzeron Aligoté

From the other Co^te. The 2018 Domaine de Villaine Bouzeron has pale yellow green robe.  Lemon blossom, jonquil, rainwater, and powdered grapefruit zest on the expressive nose. The palate is racy and belies the the solar 2018 vintage, shaded more to preserved lemon, sea spray, and nervy stony sapidity, rather than overt fruit. There is a concentration that denotes ageabilty, and a persistent, mouthwatering finish that is deeply stony and satisfying. Lovely with quickly saute´ed scallops and brown butter with braised Greenmarket scallions, but with enough sap to pair nicely with roasted carrots with salsa verde. And yes, the price has crept up, but this is immensely satisfying and given the prices of middling Chablis and village wines is definitely worth a look. Excellent juice. John McIlwain

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $43.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

De Villaine, A.et P. 2018 Bouzeron Aligoté 1.5L

From the other Co^te. The 2018 Domaine de Villaine Bouzeron has pale yellow green robe.  Lemon blossom, jonquil, rainwater, and powdered grapefruit zest on the expressive nose. The palate is racy and belies the the solar 2018 vintage, shaded more to preserved lemon, sea spray, and nervy stony sapidity, rather than overt fruit. There is a concentration that denotes ageabilty, and a persistent, mouthwatering finish that is deeply stony and satisfying. Lovely with quickly saute´ed scallops and brown butter with braised Greenmarket scallions, but with enough sap to pair nicely with roasted carrots with salsa verde. And yes, the price has crept up, but this is immensely satisfying and given the prices of middling Chablis and village wines is definitely worth a look. Excellent juice. John McIlwain

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $129.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur