I am on a mission to enlighten people to a variety of wine producing grapes that do not get the attention that they deserve, but produce unique, frequently beautiful wines. Shall we begin alphabetically, like tropical storms? Aligoté is a light-colored green grape, barely green at all. It is a cross of Pinot Noir and Gouais Blanc. Aligoté is freckled around Burgundy, France as the secondary grape of white wine production. In Burgundy, Chardonnay is king, and Aligoté is generally used to produce light bodied table whites, and sometimes used in the production of sparkling Cremant de Bourgogne, in which case, it is typically blended with 15% Chardonnay.
Aligoté enjoys the moderate, cool climate of Burgundy, and ripens early, producing wines with high acidity. Aromas of apple and citrus specifically lemon, they can have a unique herbal flavor, as well. Finding the Burgundy wines domestically in the states requires a bit of hunting, but fine examples of Bourgogne Aligoté AOC or Bouzeron-Aligoté AOC are out there in small quantity.
In the United States, Aligoté is grown in Washington State, California, largely for blending, and in New York in the Niagara Valley it also fares well. I saw the grapes on vine in Washington, where one of my favorite producers used it for a varietal wine. This producer no longer makes a monovarietal wine of Aligoté, and I am currently seeking new producers, if you find one, let me know and I will build a class including that producer. We could create a great compare and contrast of Aligoté from New York, Washington, and California at a very reasonable price point, and what a fun exercise it would be to introduce your group to this unique grape varietal.