Although long regarded as Chardonnay’s inferior Burgundian counterpart, Aligoté is finally beginning to make a name for itself across the globe. Although its history is much more youthful than Chardonnay’s (the first documentation of the variety in Burgundy dates back to the 1700s), this hardy grape is responsible for some of the region’s most exciting wines today.
Aligoté is generally used to make dry white wines, though it is permitted in the production of regional crémants. When vinified still and dry, Aligoté commonly shows bright and slightly herbal flavors of tart green apple, stone fruit, white flowers, acacia, lemon, and grilled nuts. The grape is high in natural acidity, and although most expressions are enjoyed in their youth, those produced at the hands of high-quality producers can withstand years in the cellar.
Aligoté was first created as the result of crossing Pinot Noir with Gouais Blanc. On the vine, Aligoté is early ripening and is quite tolerant to cooler temperatures. Aligoté has two dedicated AOCs within Burgundy: Bourgogne Aligoté and Bouzeron. Outside of Burgundy, Aligoté is also cultivated in the eastern European countries of Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, and Switzerland, as well as in Washington State and California (albeit, in small quantities).
In its past life, Aligoté was most commonly known for its role in Burgundy’s Kir cocktail, which blends local white wine (generally produced from the Aligoté variety) with cassis. As land prices continue to explode in Burgundy’s most sought-after appellations, many up-and-coming producers are looking to Aligoté plots to cultivate their wines. For those looking to stay in the know, we recommend following regional pioneers of Aligoté, including Charles Lachaux, Sylvain Pataille, and more.
Classic Aligoté characters include citrus fruit and apple aromas and flavours, high levels of acidity and some mineral/stony notes.
It is often drunk young – usually released in the spring after harvest – and is the traditional white wine used in the ‘Kir Royale’ cocktail.
Popular synonyms for Aligoté include Blanc de Trois, Vert Blanc and Chaudenet Gris.