Aligoté is a green grape maybe best known as the most important variety in Bouzeron in Côte Chalonnaise, Burgundy, where it produces dry and lively quality white wines. Less known is the grape’s popularity in cold climate countries and areas in Eastern Europe and North America.
Most often, Aligoté is grown on various kinds of limestone based soils. It is also said to reflect the terroir where it is planted. In Burgundy, this means high levels of acidity, a characteristic that is less evident in Aligoté wines from Eastern European.
It has the potential for providing wines with nice herbal and floral notes but quite often you will find wines that demonstrate less of an aromatic identity. The grape’s resistance to cold means it will thrive also when planted in higher locations.
Good quality varietal wines will be the ones from Bourgogne’s Aligoté appellation, and especially those from Bouzeron, where the variety has its own appellation. Aligoté wines normally are made for consumption within few years. And, if you try a Cremant de Bourgogne, Burgundy’s sparkling wine, there is good chance that you will be sipping Aligoté.
In several East European countries, Aligoté is mainly used for blending in dry as well as in sweet wines, although occasional examples of dry varietal wines can be found.
A good quality dry Aligoté wine is best served at 8°C/46°F – 10°C/50°F. It will be a nice pairing with for example grilled fish and other maritime dishes.
An alternative pairing is with a nice goat cheese. If you’re having it as a Cremant de Bourgogne, best serving temperature is 6°C/43°F – 8°C/46°F.
Where is it grown?
Aligoté is a popular grape in several East European countries. In 2010, it was the most planted grape in Moldavia, and the second most planted grape in Ukraine. Plantings in France are relatively small compared to several other countries, although having increased with some 200 ha/495 ac between the years 2000 and 2010.
- Moldavia 15.790 ha/39,020 ac. Mpg rank 1
- Ukraine 9.627 ha/23,789 ac. Mpg rank 2
- Romania 7.297 ha/18,031 ac. Mpg rank 7
- France 1.952 ha/4,823 ac. Mpg rank 46
- Russia 1.029 ha/2,540 ac. Mpg rank 6
There are reports of plantings – most often smaller areas – in Georgia, Canada, north-western USA, Australia, and Switzerland.
Aligoté is thought to have originated in the Saône Valley, and recent DNA sampling reaffirms this by placing its origin in Burgundy. Its parents are Heunisch Weiss (Gouais Blanc) and Pinot. It has been documented in the early nineteenth century, with suggestions of findings dating back to the middle of the seventeenth century, indicating that Aligoté is indeed an old variety.