2019 Aligoté, Le Bon Climat Vineyard
Aligoté is thought of as Burgundy’s ‘other white variety’. It is overshadowed by the much more popular Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. These more profitable varieties get the best vineyard sights and Aligoté is planted in the lesser areas. The maturation of Aligoté in Burgundy is inconsistent and slow, due to being planted in poorer vineyard sections. Burgundian Aligoté is tart and neutral. Mixing this wine with crème de cassis makes it palatable, and the "cocktail" has become a popular aperitif.
Our Aligoté is grown at Le Bon Climat Vineyard, next to our high end grapes. In the Santa Maria Valley we usually have nice ripening weather extending into early November. This long growing season is eight weeks longer than the growing season in Burgundy meaning a more expressive wine. Consequently, Le Bon Climat Vineyard Aligoté bears little resemblance to Burgundian Aligoté.
Aligoté goes through the same “hands-on” process as all other white wines made at Au Bon Climat /Clendenen Family Vineyards. The grapes are handpicked and hand sorted in the vineyard, then whole-cluster pressed and settled for two days. The longer term settling eliminates some of the more lessy characters in the finished wines by minimizing the solids in the barrels during the primary and malo-lactic fermentations. It is aged in older, neutral Francois Frères cooperage for 10 months, and then bottled after a light fining and filtration.
The aromas are fresh pear and lavender with a saline background. There is tartness to this wine, like the Burgundian version of Aligoté, but his wine has so much more. This tartness meshes with the steely/mineral aspect of this wine to make this a perfect match with seafood. A bottle of Aligoté, a plate of garlicky clams and an ocean view sounds like a perfect match.
Wine Enthusiast Magazine
Score: 91 "One of the few winemakers to tackle this Burgundian variety each vintage, Jim Clendenen presents aromas of dried lemon peel, yellow melon, light mint and a touch of savory wood on the nose of this bottling. The palate offers dried citrus and nut flavors, from Meyer lemon peel to cashew, with a beach-sand minerality." - Matt Kettmann