Aligoté Emerging from the Shadows #Winophiles

A native of Burgundy (Bourgogne), Aligoté has long been a distant second fiddle to Chardonnay.

French #Winophiles Highlight God Forsaken, Forgotten, Under-the-Radar Grapes
This month, our French Winophiles are looking under the rug and in the closet for those forgotten, ignored, or neglected French grapes. Take a look at our findings by scrolling down in this post for a whole list of links to some great finds. If the subject intrigues you, join our chat on twitter. Details below!

Aligoté has both noteworthy parents and siblings.

Aligoté’s Humble Beginnings
Aligoté
is a Bourgogne native, but Chardonnay was always much more popular. Chardonnay was a bit easier to grow, and the flavors produced in the wine were more appealing as the region was establishing its identity. Unfortunately, Aligoté was relegated to lowlying, flatter vineyards and was never given much attention. The resulting wine was thin and acidic and never really garnered much attention. With the exception of Bouzeron, the best labeling possible was the regional appellation “Bourgogne Aligoté”.

Aligoté has been best known as a component of Kir. The wine is mixed with Crème de Cassis liqueur and served as an apertif. That’s not bad, but it isn’t much for building a reputation.

Aligoté Emerging from the Shadows
Luckily, there has been a recent resurgence of interest in this lesser known grape. Several Bourgogne vignerons have taken up the cause, either finding old Aligoté vines or planting their own and showing them the love and attention they deserve. The vignerons have even gathered an informal group, “Les Aligoteurs” and have started organizing tastings. Wine Enthusiast reports Aligoté as Burgundy’s Rising Star.  We can only hope the trend continues and we can start to see Aligoté showing up on our shelves in the US in greater numbers!

In recent visits, I’ve seen increasing interest from vignerons in the southern reaches of Burgundy and I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy a number of bottles. Let’s jump in and taste an example!

Domaine Chevrot Bourgogne Aligoté “Cuvée des Quatre Terroirs” AOC 2016 (purchased in France, available online here) 13% abv

I’ve previously written about a visit to Domaine Chevrot, my post is located here.

Eye: Clear medium lemon color
Nose: Clean, medium+ intensity. Aromas of ripe pear, ripe peach, cantaloupe, honeysuckle. Mineral notes of chalk and a bit of flint.
Mouth: Dry, medium+ intensity. Flavors match the aromas with rich, ripe fruits, flowers and minerals with a plush texture, medium+ body, medium+ acidity, nice lingering medium+ finish. No evidence of oak aging in either the nose or palate.
Conclusions: Very good quality wine showing good balance between ripe intense fruit and good acidic structure. Drink now, not suitable for further aging. The abundant fruit is the star in this wine and it won’t last forever.

French Winophiles Find Gems Hidden in Plain Sight
There are an even dozen ideas below for you to go digging into the dark corners of French grapes. Why not join our chat on Twitter and chime in with your thoughts? Find us on Saturday Feb. 15 10-11am CST at #winophiles on twitter. Hope to see you there!

Aligoté Wines to Search Out
My French wine consultant (son Peter) recommends the wines below as examples of Aligoté where great care was given. At least two appear to be available in the US.

Our Feast of Clams and Aligoté

Little Neck Clams a la Plancha

We love clams, mussels, oysters in all their forms. Steaming clams or mussels on the stovetop is a regular activity at our house. I’ve experimented with clams a la plancha based on Francis Mallmann’s recipe in “7 Fires” with some success, but I’ve learned that judging doneness is the key to success on the grill. This time, I think I nailed it!

Ingredients

  • 2.5 lbs of Little Neck clams
  • 1 bunch of flat leaf (Italian) parsley
  • 1 bunch of basil
  • 3 scallions, sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 10 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved.
  • 8 oz. dry white wine
  • A favorite salad
  • Crusty baguette

Instructions

  • Clean the clams if necessary.
  • Gather the parsley, basil, scallions, garlic in a mound. Drizzle with the EVOO. Chop and mix until you have a finely diced and mixed mound of garlicy herbs.  Mix in the cherry tomatoes.
  • Heat a cast iron griddle over high direct heat in a grill, at least 500 deg. F. Make sure the griddle is well heat-soaked.
  • Place the clams on the hot grill, cook for 5 minutes, until you see steam rising.
  • Add the herb and tomato mixture to the grilling clams, cook for an additional minute.
  • Add the wine, be prepared for a LOT of steam.
  • Remove the clams from the grill
  • Sit down and enjoy!

 

 

Comments
26 Responses to “Aligoté Emerging from the Shadows #Winophiles”
  1. culinarycam says:

    As always, Jeff, you have me thirsty and hungry! Thanks for the great post and the inspiration to hunt down some Aligoté for myself. Cheers.

  2. Peter says:

    Invoice for consultancy services inbound.

  3. Looks awesome! A few weeks ago I made spaghetti with fresh littlenecks and razor clams. Really wish I’d thought of pairing the dish with an Aligoté. Next time!

  4. Searched for Aligoté on the PA state system’s site after reading this post. Appears a few are available by special order. Might have to do that!

  5. Robin Renken says:

    Thank you for sharing the “love affair analysis” and the rap! I love your little neck clam recipe and might try it (sans snow)

  6. wendyklik says:

    The color of that wine is amazing and you stole my heart with that sheet pan clam dinner.

  7. terristeffes says:

    My husband’s eyes bugged out when he saw this post. I think we will be making this next. We loved the potatoes, by the way.

  8. Love this description of our task this month, Jeff– “French Winophiles Find Gems Hidden in Plain Sight”! And if your article wasn’t enough, the videos put me over the top! The one by them had me giggling away!

  9. Pinny Tam says:

    Love the video. Also it’s a great idea to put the baking sheet on the grill to catch the herbs and wine you poured over!

  10. Nicole Ruiz Hudson says:

    I’m so glad you did Aligoté — I was hoping someone would. My initial impulse was to do an Aligoté post too, but I couldn’t find the ones I wanted. Definitely a Godforsaken Grape. Your clams a la plancha look fantastic as well.

    • Thanks Nicole! Aligoté is still a bit of a toss of the coin on whether you get a “kir Aligoté” or one that has been grown with care. I’m going to search out the ones suggested by Peter.

  11. Nicole Ruiz Hudson says:

    Also, I ROTFL with the Aligoté rap

  12. As I said in the chat, you’re inspiring me to give Aligote another try! And the clams look delish.

  13. Kat René says:

    We’ve been drinking a lot of Aligoté lately ourselves. Happy to see more folks talking about it.

  14. Deanna says:

    I really like it when you bbq in the snow. If it were me, I would not dare go outside, much less cook my dinner in that weather. Interesting to read that Aligote is a rising star in Burgundy. Hopefully this means it will stay affordable too!

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