Tasted in Flagey-Echézeaux, 23 April 2018. Image courtesy https://aligoteurs.com/
I’ve never tasted anything in Flagey before – so why not over 70 Aligotés? The rain came on this particular Monday, and with it, only 16°C. Considering that the weekend had been over 25° then we can consider ourselves lucky – that would have been far too warm…
This is the first presentation by a new group calling themselves the aligoteurs – the wines being presented semi-outdoors in large tents – I finished the first one, but it finished me too! There were more wines on display than I could effectively assimilate – perhaps I completed about 60+% of the course – in well over 3 hours. If they do it again, I will have to talk less! The domaines were ordered alphabetically, and some presented one wine, others many more – those towards the end of the alphabet I missed – next time I shall start from Z so as to be sure to have them all!
Learning point of the day: Chardonnay is often reduced when first bottled (today!) but slowly loses that reductive quality over time. Aligoté is rarely reduced after bottling, but seems to become more reductive with age!
Urban myth of the day: ‘Rollin once had some aligoté on the hill of Corton that was reclassified as Charlemagne in the 1970s – so its now chardonnay – but once there was a grand cru aligoté!’
First a little aligoté info…
The 1er cru 1911 Aligoté vines of Domaine Ponsot in Morey St.Denis – the only 1er cru aligoté in Burgundy:
Aligoté is grape variety use to produce white wine. In France it is mainly grown in Burgundy it is the result of a crossing between pinot noir and gouais. It’s a vigorous grape variety that likes hillsides – here it can easily produce 50 to 70 hectolitres per hectare. Grown in the plains, these yields can triple (e.g in Romania).
Aligoté wine is light, slightly acidic, low in tannin and scented, and whilst it can age, it is a wine for drinking young – for instance, mixed with crème de cassis to make “Kir” (1945). In 1958 Burgundy produced aligoté from 1,883 ha of vines, down to 1,188 ha in 1979. It has been on the increase since then. In 2011, Burgundian production was split between Côte d’Or (672 ha), Saône-et-Loire (892 ha), Yonne (352 ha) and Rhône (51 ha).
Elsewhere in France, there is production in Ain (6 ha), Savoie (7 ha), Drôme (30 ha) for the AOC Châtillon en Diois. Outside of France it produced in the Ukraine (15,103 ha), Romania (12,406 ha), Bulgaria (2,500 ha), Switzerland (23 ha including 21 in the Canton of Geneva), but also in Canada, California, Chile – this latter mixed with Sémillon and Riesling.
Synonyms: Alligoté, Alligotay in the Côte de Nuits (Joigneaux), Griset blanc in Beaune, plant gris around Meursault. Plant de trois raisins in the north of Dijon, Plant de Trois, Blanc de Troyes in Gevrey, Troyen blanc, Chaudenet gras in the Côte Chalonnaise, Vert blanc in the Jura, Giboudot blanc in Rully and Mercurey or Purion des Coteaux in the Saône!
My summary/translation of a text from Dictionnaire des Cépages (Pierre Galet, 2015, éd. Libre et Solidaire)
Maison Ambroise (Nuits)
A sample from tank, 20% barrel elevage but none new. Will be bottled in June. “For me a it’s a tip-top vintage for whites,” winks François!
A nose with a modest, but attractive citrus. In the mouth there’s width and citrussy delciousness. Super length too!
Much wide, weightier, complex and ripe nose. Richer, more chardonnay in style – layered but still with fine balance. Yum! A little salinity in the finish too.
More golden in colour. Ooh, a truffly, deep nose. Fresh, direct but with depth of flavour too. A decent richness that more than balances the spike of acid – such fun.
Domaine Charles Audoin (Marsannay)
Vines in Marsannay
A big waft of fresh, citrus almost minty aroma. Hmm, a nice depth of flavour that’s matched with cosseting texture – a middle with floral complexity – great wine!
PL et JF Bersan (St.Bris)
Not yet bottled – there’s normally 18 months of elevage here. Vines of 30-60 years old, 1/3 on Portlandian the rest on Kimmerigian limestone.
A deep, vibrant nose, hinting at pyrazine, also hinting at sauvignon blanc. Good volume, balance and a melting flavour with a strong minerality. Very good!
This is the current vintage for sale.
A very different aroma to the 2017 – there’s width, an extra richness and quite an attractive ripe fruit. Beautiful silky texture on the palate, layered but balanced. Long and delicious
Domaine Eric Boigelot (Meursault)
An 8.5 ha domaine with vines in Meursault, Volnay and Monthelie
2017 Aligoté Les Belles Roses
The name of the parcel. Elevage in about 25% oak.
A tighter nose but with attractive top notes. Saline, round, layered, not the most energy but a beautiful melting flavour. This is excellent!
Maison JC Boisset (Nuits)
2016 Aligoté Les Moutots
16 month elevage
Ooh a pretty, vibrant nose. Almost a little petrol complexity on the palate – nice texture, layered flavour. Excellent! With a great finish
2015 Aligoté Corvée au Moines
In the commune of Puligny
Really a much tighter nose – the wine is quite cold. Direct attack, weight of flavour, more density a little richness but balance again – really a wine to wait for but excellent all the same. Today I’d definitely drink the 16 in preference – I’m not sure in 10 years – yes 10!
Magnum – Hmm, nice, a hint of reductive complexity. Ooh, bright, intense, reductive but in a great way. Bravo. What a wine!
Screwcap – Ooh, this is brilliant too, not reductive but with the complexity of age. Depth, super texture, almost a super Alsace riesling style to this wine, great!
Domaine Bonnardot (Hautes Côtes)
Modest intensity, but almost silky and floral. Super direction here, slowly melting with an agrume complexity. Long and slightly saline finishing. Ooh this is very good, with a little herb in the finish.
Domaine René Bouvier (Gevrey)
2015 Aligoté Vieilles-Vignes
Older than 70 years vines in the commune of Morey.
A modest, slightly saline nose. Ooh, lots of silky, fresh volume in the mouth – rather mineral in style. Long, long, long. Excellent.
2016 Aligoté Vieilles-Vignes
A little more open, more floral than saline. Less density, more open and accessible, some florals and only later more saline and mineral. More open but less delicious today than the 2015. Super finishing persistence.
2017 Aligoté Vieilles-Vignes
Not yet bottled but poured from magnum for effect!
A faint yeastiness. Bright, lots of volume and energy – spritzy too – lots of gas today, but it seems that it will be excellent!
The Bret Brothers (Vinzelles)
A Japanese inspired label – the main market? Elevage in demi-muids
An intense nose, almost too much – a little nature here, maybe. Wide, silky, fine depth of flavour. Really a great finish!
A much finer, more attractive nose. Wide, complex, fine depth. This is excellent, maybe great. Super, super wine…
Domaine Chevrot (Maranges)
2016 Aligoté Quatre Terroirs
A modest but pretty nose. Fresh, growing depth of slightly herbed, green fruited flavour. Lots here, but not my favourite flavour profile so far.
2015 Aligoté Tilleul
Ooh, nice, theres some oak here but it’s very attractive. Direct, mineral, fresh but still muscled. Lots of oak on the palate – wait, it’s still complex and saline finishing. Given how the following 2010 has developed, there is a chance of greatness here.
Hmm a nice vibration of age on the nose. Direct, ripe flavour – such complexity and energy. Great wine.
2005 Aligoté Quatre Terroirs
A much more quiet nose. Good volume in the mouth with lots of density, extra sweetness, long. Yum!
Deep, very herby. A little golden but not lots. Super-fresh, herby, complex, great apparently young energy, but not my favourite flavour profile.
Domaine Bruno Clair (Marsannay)
A tank sample.
Big, bright, complex, floral, super attractive nose. Gas, direct, slowly widening and becoming more and more interesting. Very good, very attractively long too!
A little more serious and dense, but remaining fine at the edges. Wide, layers of flavour, fine freshness. Super wine with a creamy mid-palate depth – what a wine – the richness is more luxurious than lacking balance.
Domaine Fabien Coche (Meursault)
Vines in the commune of Meursault – not long bottled as there is 15-18 months of elevage
A narrow nose but with a fine core of ripe fruit. Layered fresh flavour. Lovely depth and the mid-palate is particularly attractive – yum – with a fine floral addition.
Ooh that’s a very attractive nose. More direct, a super line of melting flavour – ooh wow that’s good! Bravo!
A little more of a musky depth to this nose. More width over the palate, a little more depth of flavour and good texture too, but the 15 was just so good that this is, from a flavour perspective, certainly less interesting. Fine texture and a good balance and concentration though.
Hmm, a very attractive reductive note. The palate less sweet to start, but growing in flavour, melting layers in the finish – really excellent here. I love the nose and mid and finish – the first flavour is just a little less exciting – excellent!
Château de Rougeon (Bissey sous Cruchaud – near Buxy/Montagny)
Granitic souls here, abandoned for 50 years, first vintage 2010, aligoté is 60% of the production, all of which is regional
A fresh but weighty depth of herby notes. Lots of volume in the mouth, some richness, growing complexity. Yum!
A weight of aroma again. Supple, silky, concentrated, nicely layered flavour. Lovely fresh finishing waves of flavour. Yum…
This was the last bottle at the domaine
A nice width, slightly creamy aroma, not so much depth. Supple, lively, mineral, growing in flavour complexity. A little richness and a lot of good flavour yum!
Domaine de Villaine (Bouzeron)
Pierre de Benoist: “I think aligoté is the cepage reacts best to biodynamics and on our plots it’s often harvested after the chardonnay.”
A nose of freshness and a little floral accent. Ooh, here is a beautiful depth and vibrancy of flavour. Reminds of a Trimbach style wine.
More open, more complex – super attractive. A hint of reductive interest but such a complexity too – this could be the best wine I’ve tasted so far. Great finish!
I didn’t think that a nose could get better, but… wide, suggesting a reduction, fine fruit – yes! Rich, round, a little quince, layers of complexity. This is my favourite nose, but I
prefer the flavour of the 2010…
Domaine Vincent Dureuil-Janthial (Rully)
The vines in Rully
A fine but modest nose. Ooh – open, balanced, delicious and with complex flavour – directly a yes!
A little suggestion of oak here. More depth and weight to the flavour – growing intensity too. I’ve a tiny preference for the first, but only a little.
The last had a hint of oak, I feel a little more here. Super in the mouth with lots of volume but an airy, complex quality the wine – really layered and fantastic!
Recrue des Sens (Messanges, Hautes Côtes de Nuits)
Fizzy, not a super-overt nose. Sweet, okay on the palate…
2014 Love and Pif Vin de France
A depth of aroma, also lots of (less intentional) bubbles here. Long, actually super tasty mid and finishing flavours, though not so long. Yum.
2015 Love and Pif Vin de France
This smells much more ‘natural.’ Fine freshness in the mouth, lots of energy and complexity.
Ooh! That’s a beautiful, complex. Faintly reductive nose. Supple but with lots of direction. A great wine!
2015 Les Ponts
Here with skin maceration, so much darker colour.
A deep and creamy nose, faintly floral too. Very floral on the palate too. Interesting, tasty wine.
2015 Les Grands Ponts
This wine’s cloudy. The nose is okay though – fresh, lots of interesting depth. Wide, complex, intense, floral. Fine!
Domaine Arnaud Ente (Meursault)
Vines in the commune of Meursault. 18 months of elevage, 12 months in barrels of 600 litres.
Not the biggest nose, but there’s an attractive, slightly soft, core of fruit. Line, purity, layers of flavour. Mouth-watering flavour. Super length – yes!
From magnum, probably had more barrels during elevage.
Again a modest nose but with a highly attractive softness and complexity. Hmm, vestiges of barrel in the complexity what a complexity! Sweet, enough balance, excellent!
Domaine Benoit Ente (Puligny)
Puligny for the vines, 18 months of elevage – the last 6 in tank.
Vibrant, maybe some gas but very attractive. Lovely bright freshness, melting from the core – really delicious…
A tighter nose, maybe a hint of reduction. Intense, mineral, super impressive but more to wait for, lovely.
A big, open, floral nose – non standard but very attractive. More acidity, more line, really mouth-watering – lovely.
Domaine Nicolas Faure (Meuilly, Hautes Côtes de Nuits)
Have vines in Pernand but lost all in the frost of 2016 – these grapes came from the bottom of Vosne.
A nice freshness with an equally fresh core of attractive fruit – yes! Silk! Slightly sweet and delicious. Super wine!
All from Pernand, near cemetery.
A warmer depth to this nose – it has an almost a caramel depth. Super length, faint bitters – excellent complexity – yum!
Maison En Belles Lies (St.Aubin)
A width of freshness, lots of depth. In the mouth this has a little richness and a lot of melting, sweetness of interesting flavour. Delicious!
Deep again, lots of low sulfur impression nere. Also in the mouth. Some salinity, lots of volume together with great acidity – also lots of bruised apple. Not my favourite style of flavour, but thus is impressively long.
Domaine Jean Fournier (Marsannay)
2016 Aligoté Champ Forey Vieilles-Vignes
Deep, vibrant, quite a mineral nose. Beautiful in the mouth, gorgeous texture, long, concentrated – it will last as long as you like – excellent!
2015 Aligoté Champ Forey Vieilles-Vignes
A pretty freshness here, fine citrus notes. Layered, richness but freshness too. Long, long. Excellent again…
A little tighter nose, some salinity. Extra fresh, lots of energy, less sensuous, more alive. Great!
2013 Aligoté Champ Forey Vieilles-Vignes
Jeroboam. Vibrant and wide, faintly reductive. More reductive aspects to the beautifully complex flavour. Extra mineral, not the most delicious, but perhaps the most impressive!
Domaine Gachot-Monot (Corgoloin)
Not long n bottle – vines in Corgoloin, i make the to drink well not deconstruct. Not too long an elevage, i want to keep the freshness.
A big and open mose of sweetness – attractive. Sweetness but open and fresh in the mouth too, delicious wine.
Only 300 bottles because of frost usually its 5,000! So not labelled – it’s just for drinking at the domaine
Not so wide but deep and interesting, quite a herby style but layers of complexity and lots of concentration. Good.
Fresh and deep – this is very attractive. Lots of volume in the mouth, more sweetness, still concentrated and alive. Super length – yum!
A more floral nose. Wide, mineral freshness, also florality here. Some rigour but this is my favourite of them all. Yum!
Domaine Jerôme Galeyrand (Gevrey)
Bought in must, comes from Pernand. Not yet finished malo…
Really floral. Also in the mouth, with a hint of apple. Fresh, not finished but lots of fun already…
Maison Alex Gambal (Beaune)
Ooh this is pretty and precise. Likewise in the mouth, concentrated and delicious wine. Bravo!
Similar to the the last more width of aroma in the depth. Direct, narrower lots of concentration but more to wait for – very good.
A nice width, more complexity, perhaps due to wood. Lots of concentration again, complexity and freshness too. A little touch too much barrel today – but give it a couple more years.
A slightly reductive nose and a little narrow too. Big, fresh, full of energy, a reductive aspect. Really quite young. Long. Still to wait for.
Guilhem et Jean-Hugues Goisot (St.Bris)
Probably for bottling at the start of the Summer
Ooh, lovely complexity, a hint of mint. Hmm, lovely energy and a melting flavour too. You guessed it – Lovely!
Less overt volume, a faint salinity. Deep, wide, a little roast fruit impression, good but I prefer the last.
Open, vibrant, perhaps a hint of reduction. Lovely, more mineral but with an accent of sweetness, more complexity of age, no loss of vivacity. Excellent. A super finish.
Ooh, deep, complex, vibrant. Wide and really impressively fresh and complex. Just a great wine!
Domaine Gouffier (Fontaines)
All barrel elevage – none new.
A weight of wide aroma, less deep. Round, fine texture, depth of flavour, faintly saline and sweet too. A lovely finish.
2017 En Rateaux
Sampled from barrel.
A little mire floral. Wide, super fruit, wide extra delicious – excellent.
2017 Bouzeron Les Corcelles
A little oak and lots of flowers. Bright, fresh direct but still with width. Plenty of barrel today but also an intensity of finishing flavour.
A more modest volume of aroma, but very inviting. Ooh, lots of mineral complexity, the oak barely showing, ooh intense – bravo!
2016 Aligoté Cuvée Acquaviva
Same as first wine but ‘orange!’
Not really orange, not a wide nose but plenty of depth. Direct and fresh, lots of minerality and it’s long too. Not a bit of oxidation or any negatives. Super wine.
2017 Aligoté Cuvée Maceration Carbonic Acquaviva
Not bottled yet.
A little reductive a lot mineral. Fresh open and pure – definitely to wait for – long. Excellent
Domaine Vieux College (Marsannay)
A good volume of aroma here with a subtle sweetness. Wide, melting flavour, with tons of freshness for a 2015. The finish is the best part with a slowly melting flavour – really delicious here.
Invited by Sylvain Pataille, they make just 40 cases each year from very young vines, planted in 2013. 2015 was the first vintage – hand pressed as there’s not enough fruit for the domaine’s press…
Quite an open nose, a little diffuse but still inviting. Volume, sweetness, melting flavour, the finish is super.
Also plenty of volume on the nose. Hmm, supple, more concentrated, layers – I like this more!