An appellation that spreads on only one village, only one variety. Bouzeron AOC was born in 1997 thanks to the efforts of insistent winegrowers and especially Aubert de Villaine. If you want to learn what does Aligoté has to offer at its’ best, go for Aligoté Doré from Bouzeron. It’s the only place where this variety gets the best slopes.
Long history of a young appellation
Bouzeron is the only village that produces Aligoté exclusively on the slopes.
Aligoté used to be ‘ruling’ in Burgundy, on the prestigious slopes of Côte-d'Or in Meursault and Pernand-Vergelesses. But tastes change, and grapes that are more known internationally - Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, pushed out Aligoté to the vigorous flat land, where it was destined to be a high yielding and inexpensive wine. The potential of this variety almost vanished in time. But there was one village with probably very stubborn people that never gave up Aligoté. It was in Bouzeron that they fought for an appellation dedicated to Aligoté. In 1979 a separate AOC status among Bourgogne Aligoté was gained, in 1997 a fully independent Bouzeron Appellation d'Origine Controlée was born. Today Bouzeron is the only village that produces Aligoté exclusively on the slopes. And probably the only village where you can find centenary Aligoté grapevines, as this is the only place where producers are not into high yields of this variety.
History & Terroir of Bouzeron AOC
I took a morning train to Chagny that is 5 km away from Bouzeron and, obviously, walked these 5 km through the picturesque vineyards between two villages. Both are part of Côte Chalonnaise region and neighbour with Santenay and Chassagne-Montrachet, Rully and Mercurey.
a nutrient-poor, marly, brown limestone-rich soil that naturally limits the yield
As is the case in Burgundy, winegrowing was started here by monks, monks of Cluny in our case. The terroir is unique and exceptional. Yield is naturally limited by soil composition - it’s a nutrient-poor, marly, brown limestone-rich soil. On the other hand, the warm microclimate in the valley helps to achieve perfect ripeness of the grapes. The oldest vines are trained in traditional ‘Gobelet’ style, that helps sap regulation in these very precious grapevines. I said precious because a private nursery is established in Bouzeron that focuses on researching the genetic diversity of the old Aligoté vines, identifying the best and reproducing them.
Bouzeron Aligoté - winemaking tips from the region
There is nothing special that they do in the cellar, according to all, without an exception, winemakers that I met from Mâcon to Chablis :) The role of a winemaker is to preserve the traditions while being open-minded (but also critical) to new technologies. Which means enhance, refine, perfect traditional approaches with new technologies.
It takes patience to let the grape express nuances of each terroir.
To allow Aligoté to express the best qualities of the variety and the exceptional terroir, the next few steps are inevitable:
Manual harvesting to deliver whole grapes in excellent condition to the winery.
Strict sorting of bunches.
Natural vinification, which means yeasts native to the grape, no harsh extraction, no added bacteria for malolactic fermentation. It takes patience to let the grape express nuances of each terroir.
A combination of maturing techniques is used (I’ll specify for each wine separately in a moment). Moderate and careful use of new oak, partial fermentation in oak, using oak casks of different sizes as a general idea.
Now the challenge is to find a winery open to visitors. Bouzeron AOC is such a small appellation and even smaller village so be prepared to face difficulties when looking for a place to taste some Aligoté.
But, of course, you never leave a village in France without finding a place to taste wine ;) Continue reading to learn about the winery I visited in Bouzeron.
Join me on my upcoming wine trips to France!