Burgundy's "Other" White Grape
2007 Pierre Morey Aligoté
White Burgundy from Region Royalty, Under $20
Would Chardonnay planted here make (much) more money?
Of course. And that's partly what's so beautiful: the recognition that this is worthy of attention, that simple yet honest wine can hold its own in such noble court, that its sense of graciousness, ease and comfort is valuable, is worthwhile.
We're talking about Aligoté, the honest, pure, "other" white from the hallowed Côte d’Or.
Aligoté is, in a way, the antithesis to Chardonnay, at least as it manifests itself in the Côte d'Or. Here, Chardonnay is rich, stylized, curvaceous, finessed, drippingly elegant. This is a grape dressed to the nines with every accessory, every detail, attended to.
Aligoté, on the other hand, is raucous, joyous, fresh, with an incredible energy. At its best (and today's example is really, really close to it), Aligoté is a grape that simply leaps with spirited, lemon-toned acid and salty/briny minerals. Yet for all this freshness, it also has an impressive palate-density and a distinct sense of push, of self-assurance.
It’s honest, and it's absolutely delicious (especially in the soul-crunching heat of August)... and therein lies its beauty. It also doesn't hurt, we suppose, that it is another one of those silly values of Burgundy.
For a while, Aligoté's reputation suffered unduly, a bit of a black sheep grazing in the same field as the region's noble Chardonnay... And to be fair, a lot of the Aligoté that was cheaply cranked out was in fact somewhat insipid and shrill.
Not today, and definitely not in the hands of the best producers like Pierre Morey (along with the likes of Jean-Francois Coche, Francois Mikulski or Jean-Marc Roulot), who are lending Aligoté a certain deserved seriousness through reduced yields, the cultivation of old vines and, in the case of Morey, biodynamic viticulture.
With 20 years as the winemaker at Domaine Leflaive under his belt, Pierre Morey could fairly be considered Burgundy royalty. Now he's running his own show with his family's 50-year-old vines in Meursault, and his 07 Aligoté from this commune truly impresses with dark minerality on the nose followed by a wash of lemony citrus hedged with honey and the tart-crisp snap of a green apple, all swept down with a wonderfully grippy, chalky finish.
As we witness the resurgence of old traditions, heritage breeds, heirloom varieties and vintage style, Aligoté (and its sub-$20 price tag today) is perfectly in line with the times - old school farmer's fare; the underdog without a sleek reputation... humble yet genuine. Something to root for.
As Jancis Robinson’s Oxford Companion to Wine points out, the Côte d’Or still had Aligoté planted to nearly 1,700 acres at the beginning of the 21st century. Call this a sign that the grape is still very much relevant, very much worthwhile.
Call this perfect with a huge, messy bowl of moules frites or grilled sausage sandwiches or just the perfect antidote to a stifling ride home on the subway. We strongly recommend a six-pack to get you through August, at least.
To place your order, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the store at (212) 980-9463.
Director, Fine & Rare Wine
Crush Wine & Spirits
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