Wines from Burgundy — Pinot Noir the red and Chardonnay the white — are often out of reach for those of us looking for good, everyday bottles that won’t put a major dent in our bank accounts.
But while Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs are the stars of Burgundy and get almost all the attention, there is another Burgundy that is worth getting to know. It’s called Bourgogne Aligoté, and small quantities of this old white variety are grown and produced as well by a number of winemakers.
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Not long ago, at the Burgundy home of Becky Wasserman, the famed American exporter, I asked her what she liked to buy for herself these days. Without hesitating, she pointed to Bourgogne Aligoté, and said she was “begging for a case” from one well-known producer “because it’s just delicious and I can drink it right away.”
That pretty much sums up the best Aligotés. The wines are almost always in the $20 to $30 range, are made to be enjoyed relatively young, and can capture the terroir and complexity of Burgundies several times more expensive.
A case in point is Domaine Paul Pillot’s excellent 2017 Bourgogne Aligoté, made from grapes grown in the limestone-rich Côte Chalonnaise part of Burgundy. This crisp and delicious $28 wine explodes with flavor and is notable for both its lush fruit and its freshness.
White peach, Meyer lemon, and orange tastes are punctuated by saline and stony notes. Gentle oak treatment brings a lovely roundness to the wine.
This is a great wine on its own and will pair well with most fish and shellfish, sushi, chicken, and vegetable dishes.
While there is nothing quite like the wines of Burgundy’s famous Chardonnay and Pinot Noir appellations, Bourgogne Aligoté is enjoying a resurgence in interest and popularity. And Paul Pillot’s superb example shows just why.