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Domaine de Villaine, Aligoté, Bouzeron, Côte Chalonnaise, Burgundy, France 2021

Domaine de Villaine, Aligoté, Bouzeron, Côte Chalonnaise, Burgundy, France 2021

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Domaine de Villaine's Bouzeron Aligoté is made exclusively from the "golden" Aligoté (Aligoté doré), a Burgundian varietal grown at Bouzeron for hundreds of years. Here the Golden Aligoté finds its greatest expression. At its best, Bouzeron is a bright dry white with a fruit and freshness that resembles the wines of Chablis.

Aubert de Villaine deserves the accolades he receives. He is a reluctant hero, an unlikely trait in a man of such accomplishment, intellect, and inherent sense of noblesse. Heir to one of the most enviable wine legacies of all time, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, the young Aubert was more interested in literature and law than wine. After spending time in New York working for an importer of Burgundian wines, he finally returned home in the mid-nineteen sixties to assume his role as co-director of DRC.

In the 1970s, Aubert and his American wife, Pamela, sought less pedigreed pastures to call home. They finally settled in the village of Bouzeron, well-situated between Chassagne-Montrachet, Santenay, Rully, and Mercurey, in the Côte Chalonnaise. However high profile his day job, Aubert still considers himself a vigneron like any other, and Bouzeron’s off-the-beaten-path location left him alone to make his own wines without the demands of upholding an international reputation.

The domaine was horribly rundown when the de Villaines took over, but years of studying this unique terroir have made them pioneers in one of the last forgotten enclaves of Burgundy. The monks of the great abbey of Cluny first planted vines here in the twelfth century, leaving a legacy that has endured for centuries. Consequently, the grape varietal that reigns supreme today is the dry, white Aligoté — an unusual celebrity given its work-horse reputation in the middle of Chardonnay country.

Bouzeron boasts the best Aligoté in Burgundy, the Aligoté Doré, (instead of the lesser clone, Aligoté Vert) which gives smaller yields to produce wines with more expressive aromatics. Although the grape was overlooked until 1979 when it first earned the appellation Bourgogne Aligoté de Bouzeron, the I.N.A.O. finally upgraded the appellation to A.O.C. Bouzeron in 1997, largely due to Aubert’s advocacy over the years. Aubert’s single vineyard Bourgognes, both in blanc and rouge, are equally outstanding representations of the unlikely pedigree found in this corner of the region.

The Bouzeron Aligoté is vinified in wood foudres, with capacity of 30-40 hecto-liters. The only intervention during fermentation and aging of wine is the maintaining of temperature between 20 and 22 degrees Celsius. Each parcel is pressed separately in a small pneumatic press. The must is put in stainless steel for a 24-36 hour cold-soak, then the wine is transferred to foudre where it stays for fermentation and élevage. The lees are never stirred unless it is needed (in the case of reduction for example). The wine is raised for 10-12 months depending on the vintage.

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