Posted by: tomciocco | April 9, 2011

BURGUNDY’S OTHER WHITE GRAPE

Burgundy’s daunting complexity is a complication of PLACE. Bulk quaffing wine and $100 bottles of pure sorcery can be produced in the same town. The thickness of just a sturdy stone wall can separate sites that produce unnamed, ordinary wine on one side, and extraordinary and coveted labels on the other.

Literally tens of thousands of these tiny patches of widely varying pedigree characterize the entire region of Burgundy. But unlike Chateauneuf-du-Pape or Piedmont in Italy, the grapes are dead easy: if it’s red, it’s Pinot Noir, and if it’s white, Chardonnay. But in truth, each of these now truly world-famous grapes has a shadow, or a kid brother variety that both have as long and deep a connection to Burgundy as Pinot and Chard, and they’re the red Gamay, which is fairly well known, and the white, Aligote`, which definitely isn’t…

And that’s too bad when they’re as good as this one is. Admittedly, too many Aligote` wines are made to produce cash flow –  afterthoughts intented to fill bistro carafes with food-friendly, but often pinched and short wine, or as just a tart glug to fill out a kir royale. But certain producers, and certain parcels of earth on occasion work together to show what this often maligned variety is capable of…

Since good Aligote` is spunky and direct, I chose dishes to match: baguette toasts smeared with Selles-sur-Cher goat cheese sprinkled with piment d’esplette, and then pike filets baked in an herb (chives, dill, parsley) beurre blanc, and roasted asparagus.

Giraudon Bourgogne Aligote’ 2009

Bright pale greenish golden color. Clean and lightly pungent nose of yellow tropical fruit, ground ginger, dried lilacs, and lime, with a deep underlying chalky minerality. The mouthfeel is roundish and smooth, but with taut sinewy middleweight structure just underneath. The funky freshness and acidity is nicely balanced by a solid, fairly weighty core that frames flavors of grapefruit, candied fennel, and hazelnut. An elegant bitterish quinine flavor rings out in the moderately long finish.

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