"Like humans, young wine thinks it's immortal. Wine holds an eternity's worth of souvenirs. When we drink wine we are not eating a fruit salad of grapes. We are tasting a memory of fruit, water, soil and savoir-faire." - Pierre de Benoist, Domaine de Villane, Bouzeron AOC
I like that. The writer is talking about aging Aligote white wine which he says expresses Burgundy terroir better than its more prominent sibling, Chardonnay. According to de Benoist, his new 2017 vintage displays "bitter almond and energy." He says his 2010 now shows toasty hazelnut and tarragon. The 2005 is all about cloves and ginger. And the now twenty-year-old 1989 shows both a savory character and sticky citrus fruit.
That any aging white wine could show such character, sounds too good to be true much less that it's Aligote that we're talking about. Thirty years ago Aligote held no significance in the larger wine world. It was a distant third place in the hierarchy of Burgundy whites. First place by acclamation went to Chardonnay. Second place fell to Pinot Blanc. Aligote was almost an afterthought, an also-ran, in third place.
Now Aligote is the second most popular white from Burgundy after Chardonnay. Out-planted by more than ten to one, to be sure, Aligote must still bow to King Chardonnay. The big loser currently seems to be Pinot Blanc, which has fallen mightily since the "Pinot-Chardonnay" days of fifty years ago. Now such field blends are a thing of the past. Everything in Burgundy is quite varietal. Most blends now tend to be no more than 85-15%.
The Aligote grape is a small, thick skinned variety that is both high-yielding and cold tolerant, making it quite popular across eastern Europe where it adds acidity and structure to blends along with apple and lemon aromas and herbal flavors. The classic Kir cocktail, by the way, is traditionally made with Cassis and Aligote wine.
Please join us this Thursday after 5pm for the regular weekly wine tasting and then on Saturday the 22nd (1-4pm) for our Humane Society charity tasting.