Les Aligoteurs 9th July 2020 July 12th, 2020

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Les Aligoteurs

As lockdown in France fades steadily away, Les Aligoteurs came out of the woodwork last night and put on an informal tasting in the sylvan settings of Le Boisrouge in Flagey-Echezeaux.

It has been evident for some time that Aligoté is a changing breed. No longer something to be dismissed as a mere base for Crème Blanc Cassis (Kir), or a thin, sharp, albeit with luck refreshing, summer drink. Partly the change is a beneficial side-effect of global warming, and partly the positive result of producers deciding to explore the potential of this grape in much greater depth and breadth. Partly, too, a resurgent interest from consumers in interesting wines that are cheerfully affordable.

Aligoté is a slightly more aromatic grape than chardonnay, even if it isn’t that easy to put a finger on its natural profile. Tangy for sure, with some citrus aspects that are more deftly described by the French phrase agrumes. With warmer summers, the palate can fill out in a way it never did before, and indeed the very finest examples can even offer layers of fruit far removed from this grape’s theoretical simplicity. What is essential is that the finish should remain crisp, precise and with a mineral-tasting acidity that induces saliva rather than satiety. A few of the samples I tasted offered a looser, fleshier finish that was forgettable. The best offered a concentration of fruit, dry extract and a thrilling mineral finish that made them wines to seek out.

It wasn’t the moment for detailed tasting notes, but here are a few which I particularly enjoyed:

The first wine I tasted was from Agnès Paquet, being the inaugural (2019) vintage of her Aligoté. Pure and perfectly poised (****). I also enjoyed a crafty sip of her softly attractive sparkling version, Ali Boit Boit & les 40 Buveurs (***).

Marthe Henry Boillot had an exuberant but tightly controlled 2017 on show (****). Pascal Roblet-Monnot (Domaine Nerthus) has called his Aligoté “Côtes de Nantoux” (***) which may or may not be allowed as a designation.

Laurent Fournier offered three 2018s from different sites. My narrow favourite was the full-bodied and vigorous Champ Forey(****+), narrowly ahead of Les Boutières (****), with En Auvone (***) showing a slightly simpler fruit. Sylvain Pataille may well also have brought bottlings from multiple terroirs, but the one I saw was his Bouzeron (****), which as expected was multi-layered and very persistent.

Domaine Chevrot had both versions of their Aligoté available but I only managed to taste Le Tilleul, from their old vines, served in magnum, and a complete, fragrant, delight. Really quite similar in taste terms was Pierre-Henri Rougeot’s ‘Les Plumes’, which is one of his sulphur-free bottlings, expressing all the purity of that option without any deviant influences. (Both ****)

Domaine Goisot (St-Bris) elected to show two older vintages, 2014 and 2010, both of which were drinking beautifully: the 2014 in full vigour (*****) while the 2010 had started to soften (****).

Thibault Liger-Belair showed both the 2017 and 2018 vintages of his unconventional Clos des Perrières La Combe. For those wanting Aligoté presented as a full-bodied food wine, these should be your destination! I attach below my note on the 2018 from last year’s vintage report. Unquestionably ***** Aligoté.

Bourgogne Aligoté, Clos des Perrières La Combe, Thibault Liger-Belair                                                       89pts     *****

Planted in 1978, opposite the Gentilhommière restaurant. There is a special technique here, with one week skin contact after a light crushing. Then 8 hours in the press, 1.6 bars (vertical press in 2019). Sorry to bother you with the technical detail but this is quite different. Pale primrose colour with a brilliant elegant, yet sensual nose. A bit of bacon fat, but still recognisable Aligoté. Absolutely sensual on the palate, with so many flavours chasing each other, this has totally filled out the middle, then freshens up with a classical, tangy, citrus finish. Vinified and aged in barrel, no new wood. NB If you are expecting a classical old-style cool climate Aligoté, then remove three stars from the rating and ignore!

#lesaligoteurs #jaspermorris 

Aligote 40 Boit et les

Aligote 2017

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