In search of the mysterious aligote

Burgundy’s most important grapes are chardonnay and pinot noir, which produce the best chardonnay and pinot noir in the world. So why does the Wine Curmudgeon care about aligote?

Because it is so mysterious — Burgundy’s other white grape, sometimes used to blend but often used on its own. Legend has it that Burgundy’s landowners and winemakers grew aligote to make wine for their employees, the field hands who worked the harvest and did the heavy lifting in the wineries. After all, the bosses couldn’t let the employees drink the good stuff, could they?

Aligote is reasonably available in Burgundy, where it even has its own appellation. But it’s almost impossible to find in Dallas. Few retailers carry it, and they’re usually out of it. So imagine my surprise when I found a bottle over the weekend — a 2005 Bourgogne Aligote from La Buxynoise. La Buxynoise is well-known in France and Britain for its affordable Burgundies (a relative term, of course), so I was quite excited to taste the aligote.

It didn’t disappoint. It was heavier and a little more oily than white Burgundy, though it was still clean and crisp. It some respects, it reminded me of a lighter version of a Rhone viognier. I paired it with burgers made with ground turkey and leftover couscous salad (the Wine Curmudgeon doesn’t waste anything), yogurt cheese with black olives and cornichons, and baba ghanoush. It was not a great fit — there wasn’t enough fruit in the wine. It’s probably best with grilled shrimp, steamed mussels or raw oysters.

And what about the price? In a perfect world, this is about a $12 wine (or least that’s the price in Europe, using In Dallas, it was $18 — a decent value, but approaching chardonnay territory.