Words: Nola James
“Sadly, I can count on one hand the amount of Australian aligoté that comes my way,” wrote Jane Faulkner in the 2024 Halliday Wine Companion. She was referring to the 2022 Garagiste Tuerong Aligoté, which picked up 95 points and is the only example in this year’s guide.
Jane’s a big fan of aligoté's citrusy flavours, tang and mouth-watering acidity, which make it perfect to enjoy on its own or with food. “Of course, more producers opt for planting chardonnay because it commands a better price,” she says. “I’m all for diversity and those who produce aligoté are generally dedicated to it.”
WHAT IS IT?
So, what’s so special about this bright, fresh, anytime white? It is the third most common Burgundy variety, where it is used for still whites and sometimes Crémant de Borgonone. It suits that latter thanks to its high acidity, a quality that lends the grape to Australia’s cooler regions, although there’s not a lot of it on these shores.
Garagiste winemaker Barnaby Flanders only has access to three short rows, having sourced aligoté from Andrew Hickinbotham’s Dromana vineyard since 2017. “If you look it in the context of what does well on the Peninsula, obviously chardonnay and pinot are stalwarts. It’s not far removed to go well, why wouldn’t aligoté work down here,” he says. “The more people make it, the more people will talk about it and the more people will drink it.”
In the King Valley, Marc Lunt of Terrason Wines has 2ha of aligoté vines, which were grafted from the same Dromana site.
It suits the region, Marc says, for “its healthy natural acidity, alpine herb notes (ironically) and citrus aromatics.” He makes two styles, a ‘drink now’ version and a Burgundy-inspired
‘1er’ that’ll easily handle 10 years in the cellar.
Outside of Australia and France, aligoté is grown in Eastern Europe (for sparkling wines) and there are some plantings in Canada and the United States, namely California and Oregon.
WHAT DOES IT TASTE LIKE?
Aligoté wines are bright and citrusy, with trademark high acidity, saline minerality and alpine herb notes along with apple, green pear and lemon characters. While many examples drink exceptionally well in their youth, those matured on lees and/or in seasoned oak could easily see a decade in the cellar.
WINES TO TRY
● 2022 Garagiste Tuerong Aligoté, Mornington Peninsula VIC
● 2022 Sentio Aligoté, King Valley VIC
● 2021 Terrason 1er Aligoté, VIC
● 2021 Henri Naudin-Ferrand Mallon Bourgogne Aligoté, France