Jasper Morris MW, Inside Burgundy (January 2022)
About this WINE
Claire Naudin, one of Henri Naudin-Ferrand’s three daughters, has been in charge of this small domaine based in the Hautes Côtes at Magny-les-Villers, a village that sits astride the dividing line between Hautes Côtes de Beaune and Hautes Côtes de Nuits, since 1994.
Claire is relatively susceptible to sulphur and uses the product as little as possible. Though some of the wines are made in an ‘orthodox fashion, the most exciting wines are those which are vinified with whole bunches (all the stems) and without sulphur, though some SO2 is added at bottling to ensure that the wines remain stable thereafter.
Claire’s theory, which her wines bear out admirably, is that there is none of the harshness sometimes evident when the bunches are vinified with their stems if sulphur is not used. Instead a magical floral perfume emanates from the wine.
Bourgogne Aligoté is a regional Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) for white wines produced in Burgundy from the Aligoté variety of grape, which dates from 1937.
Aligoté grapes have played a prominent role in white Burgundy production since the 1600s, but are now being phased out in favour of the more popular and profitable Chardonnay grape: in 2007 only 1,700 hectares (4,200 acres) of Aligoté were grown compared to the 12,800 hectares (32,000 acres) of Chardonnay. The AOC regulations permit up to 15% Chardonnay to be blended with the Aligoté.
Bourgogne Aligoté is usually regarded as a somewhat more acidic wine, best enjoyed in its youth due to its lighter nature. It is also a primary component in the production of the popular French cocktail kir, by combining the Aligoté wine with the blackcurrant liqueur crème de cassis.
Aligoté has one appellation exclusive to its grape: Bouzeron, in the Côte Chalonnaise region of Burgundy, where 53 hectares are dedicated to this unique Aligoté based wine.
A grape that was first recorded in Burgundy in the 18th century and is still planted almost exclusively there, though there are limited plantings in Bulgaria, Moldavia and even California. It is a moderate-yielding grape that tends to perform best on south-east facing slopes and in warm, dry years.
For your Burgundian vigneron, Aligoté is not nearly as profitable to grow as Chardonnay - consequently it tends to be relegated to lower quality vineyards. In the wrong hands and in the wrong sites it can produce thin, raspingly acidic wines that are remarkably undistinguished. However the best growers produce balanced examples with nutty and citrus hints which are most appealing to drink. The best Aligoté wines traditionally come from Bouzeron in the Côte Chalonnaise. Along with blackcurrant liqueur, it is the key ingredient of Kir.