Jehan Emonin Bourgogne Aligote 2017



Burgundy has all kinds of rules, laws and traditions that make it a complex place to go shopping for wine. In addition, every rule has its exception; everything you learn about Burgundy you will eventually learn that there’s someone out there who does it differently. And of course, this being France, everyone you talk to is going to have a different explanation for the exception.

Which brings us to Aligote, a white grape type that is also grown in Burgundy, in addition to the ubiquitous Chardonnay.

Why is Aligote (ah-lee-gaw-TAY) also raised? I suppose the obvious answer is that it crops heavy and during the industrialized 1950s, it could handle a lot of potent chemicals. This was a time when the reestablishment of agriculture (and making a living from it) was of utmost importance. Second, there are just some places in Burgundy where the soil doesn’t favor Chardonnay or Pinot Noir. Aligote (and the other red grape, Gamay) fill in those gaps.

Maybe those aren’t super compelling or sexy reasons, but I’ve found a lot that is compelling in this bottle of wine.

First, those 1950s-era vines are now very old. Most have long been weened off of chemicals and into sustainable or even biodynamic farming. The fruit is exceptional. Second, producers are no longer aiming at high production. Everyone in Burgundy understands that quality, not quantity, is the way of the future (and you can see it in Burgundy’s prices). And finally, the Aligote that was planted in appropriate places is now making standalone, truly scrumptious wine. And Jehan Emonin’s Aligote is one of such wine:

Sourced entirely from vineyards around Meursault, the 2017 Bourgogne Blanc Aligote is now vines that are 70-plus years old. On the nose and palate there is outstanding freshness – think of its close cousin Chablis, and you’ve got the answer. The limestone tension throughout makes it a gorgeous apertif but with light spring fare it’s a perfect match as well. The flavors offered are candied lemon, orchard fruits yet with a calcaire drive, perfectly pitched focus and a long mineral core. Gorgeous to drink now, so don’t hesitate at all.