White, Ready, but will keep

2012 Bourgogne Aligoté, Domaine du Comte Armand

2012 Bourgogne Aligoté, Domaine du Comte Armand

White | Ready, but will keep | Domaine Comte Armand | Code:  22800 | 2012 | France > Burgundy > Bourgogne > Bourgogne Aligote | Aligoté | Medium Bodied, Dry | 12.5 % alcohol

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The Producer

Domaine Comte Armand

Domaine Comte Armand

The family of the Comte Armand has owned the vineyard of Clos des Epeneaux in Pommard since 1826. The vineyard wasn’t replanted post-phylloxera until 1930, but has since confirmed its rating as one of Pommard’s very finest sites. After many years when the Clos des Epeneaux was the sole wine made at the domaine, further vineyards were acquired in 1994: Auxey-Duresses, Auxey-Duresses Premier Cru, Volnay and Volnay Frémiets. The younger vines from the Clos des Epeneaux are also sold as Pommard or Pommard Premier Cru.

The modern era began under Pascal Marchand (whose first vintage was 1985), followed by Benjamin Leroux and now Paul Zinetti, Benjamin’s second-in-command. Each has left their mark: Pascal Marchand elevated the domaine, making it the greatest Pommard estate, and Benjamin Leroux oversaw conversion to biodynamics (certified from 2005).

Since 2014, Paul Zinetti has been at the helm, and a subtle but discernible change is underway. The Clos des Epeneaux’s famous dense, rich, tannic composition, so individual and impressive, is being gently moderated towards a wine that will be accessible a little earlier, while in no way undermining the ageability of one of Burgundy’s great terroirs. The firmest tannins are less evident after only gentle pumping-over and a very limited number of punch-downs. A new de-stemming machine is also delivering much better quality whole berries.

The Grape

Aligoté

Aligoté

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.

The Region

Bourgogne Aligote


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.

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