I Love French Wine and Food - A Burgundy Aligote

If you are looking for fine French wine and food, consider the world famous Burgundy region in eastern France. Although it's fairly rare, you may even find a bargain, and I hope that you'll have fun on this fact-filled wine education tour in which we review a local white wine based on the Aligote grape.

Among France’s eleven wine-growing regions Burgundy ranks fourth in acreage if you include the Beaujolais region, which most people do in spite of their considerable differences. Partisans, and they are many, claim that Burgundy is really the number one or number two wine-producing region in France, if not in the world. The wine reviewed below comes from somewhere in Burgundy, whose wine production is almost 90% white, almost exclusively Chardonnay. The Aligoté grape is Burgundy’s number two white grape, but remains fairly unknown. We’ll find out whether this lack of notoriety is deserved or not. In addition to Burgundy Aligoté is grown in Bulgaria, a not a very-well known wine producer but one that is occasionally generates bargains. The best Aligoté wines are said to come from the village of Bouzeron and its environs, located in the Côte Chalonnaise region of Burgundy. These wines are occasionally a blend of Aligoté and Chardonnay. To the best of our knowledge the reviewed wine is pure Aligoté and does not come from the Bouzeron area of Burgundy.

If you are visiting Burgundy, and you really should, make sure to stop by the Côte d’Or village of Châteauneuf about twenty five miles (forty kilometers) southwest of Dijon in northern Burgundy. This little hilltop village seems to come straight out of the Middle Ages, except for the tourists who have recently discovered it. Its focal point is the Château (Castle) built in 1132 and occupied by the same family for nine generations until 1456 when Cathrine of Châteauneuf was burnt to death; it is said that she poisoned her second husband, Jacques d'Haussonville. The castle then went through various owners until the French Revolution when it was expropriated and the village’s name was changed to Montfranc. With the construction of the Burgundy Canal its fate was sealed so to speak. Be sure to see the castle’s medieval tapestries and its reflection in the canal. By the way, the famous Châteauneuf du Pape wine is from Provence, not from Burgundy.

Before reviewing the Burgundy wine and imported cheeses that we were lucky enough to purchase at a local wine store and a local Italian food store, here are a few suggestions of what to eat with indigenous wines when touring this beautiful region.
Start with Jambon Persillé (Ham in Parsleyed Aspic).
For your second course savor Rable de Lievre à la Piron (Saddle of Hare with Shallots and White Wine).
And as dessert indulge yourself with Mousse au Chocolat (Chocolate Mousse.)

OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review are purchased at the full retail price.
Wine Reviewed
Jaffelin Bourgogne Aligoté 2005 12.7% about $14.00
Let’s start by quoting the marketing materials. Tasting Note Pale straw colour; Subtle aromas of mineral,citrus, anjou pear and green apple; Dry, light bodied, with clean apple/lemon flavours, crisp acidity on finish. Serving Suggestion Add cassis for a Kir, shellfish, light seafood dishes, ceviche or pan fried trout. And now for the review.

My first meal was whole-wheat spaghetti with a homemade tuna, red onion, garlic, and Greek olive sauce that had a commercial tomato spaghetti sauce as its base. I doused on a lot of grated Parmesan Cheese. The wine was light and short but did linger slightly. It was pleasantly acidic. As I continued the meal I realized that this wine is not weak. Its acidity was a good accompaniment to fruit-juice candy.

The next task for this Aligoté was to accompany bagels, smoked salmon, and 15% cream cheese along with sides of Greek olives some with chili pepper flakes, thinly sliced red onions, and an artichoke, garlic, and tomato salsa. The wine was lightly acidic and surprisingly long. The salsa intensified its fruit, but both the olives and fresh blueberries (no, not together) seemed to deaden the wine.
The final meal was a disappointing "Louisiana" style home barbecued chicken sausage. Both the wine and the meat were rather tasteless, but when I added some very strong mustard the wine’s fruit perked up a bit. The sweetness of the barbecued corn on the cob turned up the wine’s acidity. But the artichoke and garlic salsa made this thin Burgundy, yes it is a Burgundy, even thinner.
The first cheese pairing was with a mild-tasting Italian Pecorino Fruilano. The wine was light and fruity with decent length. The Dutch Edam was nutty, a bit fatty, and somewhat sour. The cheese itself was tastier; in contrast the wine was weaker.

Final verdict. Burgundy brings its expectations. They weren’t met by this wine. What do you want for this moderate price? More than what I got here. If I can get my hands on a Bouzeron Aligoté I’ll give it a shot.

Levi Reiss has authored alone or with a co-author ten computer and Internet books, but to tell the truth, he would really rather just drink fine French, German, or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He knows what dieting is, and is glad that for the time being he can eat and drink what he wants, in moderation. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his Italian travel, wine, and food website www.travelitalytravel.com and his global wine website www.theworldwidewine.com.