Aligoté is on the comeback trail, a grape which used to looked down upon for its acidity and rusticity is now producing treasured wines, especially in its homeland of greater Burgundy. I recently praised one inexpensive specimen of Bourgogne Aligoté from Lidl, but now we have two more accomplished examples from well reputed producers:
Maison Ambroise Bourgogne Aligoté 2017
Maison Ambroise have been a favoured Burgundy producer of mine for several years. The family grow and source grapes from 20 hectares split over 20 different appellations. Of those available in Ireland, the Hautes Côtes de Nuits white and Côtes de Nuits Villages red are excellent mid range wines. The entry level here is the red and white pair of Lettre d’Eloïse, while there are other treats available such as the stunning Nuits-St-Georges “Haut Pruliers”.
Ambroise’s Aligoté tucks in just behind the Lettre d’Eloïse Chardonnay in the range. It has an intriguing nose of pear, citrus and herbs. Textbook strong acidity make this a fresh wine, but fleshy texture and ripe citrus notes also give it some body. There’s also a strong mineral streak which is almost metallic in character. This is a tangy, mouth-watering and delicious example of the grape. Ambroise themselves suggest pairing it with fish, and especially Sushi.
- ABV: 12.5%
- RRP: €20
- Stockists: The Wine Pair; Avoca; Le Caveau Kilkenny; MacGuiness wines; Redmonds of Ranelagh; Martins Off License; Station to Station wines; Listons
- Source: purchased from The Wine Pair
Domaine Michel Lafarge Raisins Dorés Bourgogne Aligoté 2018
If Ambroise is small with 20 hectares, then Domaine Michel Lafarge is even smaller at about half the size. Based in Volnay, the Domaine is now run by Frédéric and his daughter Clothilde, the second and third generation respectively. The estate is certified organic and biodynamic, with a low-intervention approach to winemaking.
Whereas Ambroise’s vines are 40 years old, Lafarge’s Aligoté vines are more than twice that. After whole-cluster pressing, fermentation takes place spontaneously with wild yeast in stainless steel tanks. The wine is then matured between three and six months in older oak barrels, depending on the vintage. Before bottling the wine may be fined and / or filtered, again vintage-dependent.
I don’t think I’m doing this bottle of Raisins Dorés (Golden Grapes) a disservice by saying that it’s fairly similar to the Ambroise, but more so: aromas and flavours are much more concentrated, there’s more smoke and fleshy texture, and such a long finish. It’s almost as though this is the wine that Riesling and Albariño want to be when they grow up.
- ABV: 12.5%
- RRP: €32
- Stockists: the current allocation of 32 bottles for Ireland has already sold out.
- Source: media sample
There’s no doubt that the Lafarge is the better of these two wines in my eyes (or should that be “in my mouth”?), but the real question is their comparative quality to price ratio. Which is the better value for money? The extremely low availability of the Lafarge take it out of the buying equation right now, but I’d say that the two wines are equal in the VFM stakes. If you just want to spend €20 then buy the Ambroise, but if you can spend just over €30 and can find the Lafarge wine then snap it up!