Burgundy's "Other" Grapes
We wrote a blog about the "other" grapes of Burgundy. You know, the ones that aren't Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Yes, these two take up the vast majority of vineyard space and shelf space, but there are still other tremendous wines! Wines, that when made with a careful hand and on Burgundian terroir, turn out to be exquisite and singular wines, often at a bargain!
Our blog goes into some detail about all the legal grapes in Burgundy. But, for now we want to give you the need-to-know on two of our favorites: Aligoté and Passetoutgrain (made of Gamay).
At Flatiron we have long been champions of Aligoté. The Jan to Chardonnay’s Marsha, this variety has been largely unknown except to the most knowledgeable American Burgundy lover.
Once planted throughout the appellations of Bourgogne--from the Macon to Marsannay--Aligoté was decimated by phylloxera, a blow from which it never fully recovered. Relegated to clay rich soils in Saone valleys flatlands, it’s prolific output was used to make a simple quaffing wine. It was mostly consumed by locals and the cellar rats that make their way through Burgundy every vintage.
Luckily, a few vines were replanted in the region's exalted hillside. A few studious growers and vigneron have re-discovered parcels of old vines that escaped both phylloxera and replacement (with the far more lucrative Chardonnay).
Lovers of the grape will tell you that no variety expresses the thinner, rockier, hillside soils more clearly.
It's easy to be charmed by the grape's wispy floral aromas, citrus fruit, flinty minerality and searing acidity. Small plots are now lovingly tended to in some of the Cote d’Or high rent appellations by some of Burgundy’s most prominent wine growing families.
Indeed there is now also an Aligoté growers “club” that includes many of the best and brightest winemakers in the Cote d’Or.
The best of these allow Aligoté’s transparent qualities to shine through. Crunchy, rocky and mineral forward, these wines have long been a wine geek favorite and are finally receiving the notice they deserve from the wider wine world. Our collection of Aligoté focuses on these hillside plantings and a style that allows it’s crystalline qualities to shine.
For those who already love the grape, this is a chance to grab some of our favorite bottlings. For those new to Aligoté, we think these will spark a lifelong love affair.
Shop Aligoté here.
If you've been searching for a wine with the pedigree of Burgundy but as affordable and drinkable as Beaujolais, look no further than Bourgogne Passetoutgrain. Made by blending Gamay and Pinot Noir, this wine really is the best of both worlds.
The French have been enjoying these fruity and fragrant wines as far back as anyone can remember. But only a handful ever seemed to trickle into the U.S.
Finally, that trickle is a torrent. The wine has become readily available throughout the country, many coming from some of the Burgundies' best producers.
The name "Passetoutgrain" loosely translates to “throw it all in” and for centuries the wines were field blends of Pinot Noir and Gamay as well as some Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay.
It became an official appellation in 1936. And, while white grapes are still allowed these days, the blends generally consist of equal parts Pinot Noir and Gamay that are often harvested and co-fermented together. Our favorites are all like this.
Like most Bourgogne, the best come from the slopes of the Cote d’ Or, something that is readily apparent upon first sip. Berry and plum fruit are tethered by exceptionally crunchy minerality.
At times these wines can be as complex as fine Red Burgundies, but in a delicious and easy to drink style. In fact, since warming temperatures have been making many Burgundian reds more rich and structured, we are increasingly looking to Passetoutgrain to fulfill our fresh, every-day wine needs
We are huge fans of Passetoutgrain at Flatiron and have been for a long time.
We have placed countless bottles in customers' hands knowing that it will be a sure-fire hit with those who love great European wines.
For those who have yet to experience these vibrant, terror-driven gems, you are in for a treat.