Aligoté is a white grape used to make dry white wines in the Burgundy region of France, and which also has significant plantings in much of Eastern Europe - and was first recorded in Burgundy in the 18th century.
A crossing of Pinot Noir and Gouais Blanc are the parents of Aligoté and 15 other French varieties, including Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Cultivated in Burgundy, Aligoté nearly disappeared altogether when Chardonnay took the region by storm, Aligoté makes up approx 6% of the vines planted as of 2010. It is a hardy, early-ripening variety that thrives on steep sites and yields must be limited for Aligoté in order to maintain quality. It produces light, fresh white wines with more lively acidity than Chardonnay.
Aligoté is a fairly vigorous white grape, its berries are larger and more numerous than those of the Chardonnay and, consequently, it is higher-yielding. It can be found almost anywhere in soils which, though good for vines, don’t quiet suit either Pinot Noir or Chardonnay.
Aligoté produces wine with elevated acidity that can be drunk young. It is not suited to oak contact, which masks its delicate aromas. As a still wine, it is clean, fresh and light to medium-bodied, but can also be found in sparkling Crémant de Bourgogne and in Eastern Europe, where it is used primarily for the production of sparkling wines.
In Burgundy, where it often loses land to more prestigious grape varieties, Aligoté is often planted only in the poorer vineyard sites at the tops and bottoms of the slopes. This variety is more tolerant to the cold. Its aroma includes elements of apples and lemons. The village of Bouzeron which is considered to represent the region's finest examples of the variety with the appellation Bouzeron-Aligoté AOC restricting the yields to 45 hl/ha compared to the Bourgogne Aligoté AOC limited to 60 hl/ha.
In Russia it is used to make sparkling wines with varietal wines being made along the coast of the Black Sea around Gelendzhik. There have also been small, experimental plantings in Chile.