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Nathalie Bergès-Boisset & Véronique Desmazures
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Aligoté is often seen as the ugly duckling of Burgundy, with the exception of the renowned appellation of Bouzeron. But in the hands of winemaker Grégory Patriat, the varietal is undergoing a renaissance.
“Here, we treat the lowly wines like the greats,” he says. There’s no difference in the way the winery handles the more modest wines and their noble cousins, all of them enjoying long and attentive ageing. The grapes are selected from a lovely, grassed-down vineyard in Chorey-les-Beaune, in a plot with 50-year-old vines and naturally small yields, promising concentration : 40hl/ha, instead of the 73 hl/ha allowed.
The grapes arrived at the winery on 10 September 2011 with ideal ripeness, equivalent to 12.2% abv. This Aligoté underwent slow and gentle pressing for three hours, then was run directly into barrels by gravity, without settling, to conserve all its nourishing lees. Fermentation began after a few days, influenced by natural grape yeasts, and continued for several months.
As is the practice for every vintage, the wine was then aged for 18 months, which means it remained in the cellar for two winters – just the same as a Meursault or a Puligny-Montrachet. It matured patiently in 450-liter demi-muids, a quarter of which were new oak. There was no stirring to preserve its freshness. And contrary to popular belief, Aligoté can carry this gentle oaking very well.
Bottled mid-March, the wine is now revealing its personality. Pale golden, with subtle citrus, even floral notes, the attack is quite forthright. It is at once dense and very long in the mouth, with a sharp finish – the only sign of its varietal. That is the astonishing thing: tasted blind, it could easily be taken for a Côte de Beaune white, in other words a Chardonnay.
It can be drunk on its own, revealing itself as a delicious wine that is complex and serious, with good volume and great length and a slightly saline finish. This makes it a perfect accompaniment to all kinds of shellfish and seafood, whether hot or cold, especially lobster or mussels.
This Aligoté signed Jean-Claude Boisset is a rarity, since only 3,600 bottles were produced.