Burgundy’s Overlooked ‘Other’ White Wine

Burgundy’s Overlooked ‘Other’ White Wine

by L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne ML

My instructor at BIVB once described Chardonnay as the drama-free, fair-haired child that gets along with everyone. But every family has at least one problem child passed over in lieu of a more popular one.

In Burgundy, it’s Aligoté, Burgundy’s ‘other’ white varietal, a more angular version of sibling Chardonnay. A thin-skinned, rather tart white grape grown in Burgundy, styles vary from unctuous to austere.

While Chardonnay dazzles wine lovers from Chablis to the Mâconnais, Aligoté resides primarily in the Côte Chalonnaise village of Bouzeron. Notably, the village grows the superior Aligoté Doré varietal, rather than the lesser clone, Aligoté Vert.

This does not mean that other areas of Burgundy do not cultivate Aligoté. Pockets of producers include Alice + Olivier de Moor of St. Bris in Chablis, Domaine Naudin-Ferrand of Magny-les-Villers, which straddles Hautes Côtes de Beaune and Hautes Côtes de Nuits, and Domaine Ponsot, Burgundy’s only Premier Cru Aligoté from Monts Luisants in Morey-Saint-Denis. I’ve also discovered some fuller, more luxurious Aligotés produced in Meursault.

One must admire Aligoté’s perseverance. Despite relegation to blending, segregation to Burgundy’s Bouzeron, and integration into the Kir Royale, Aligoté endures, and may yet prevail. With global warming on the rise, interest in this early-ripening grape increases across the wine region. (S)he who laughs last, may indeed laugh best.

A. & P. de Villaine counts at the top of Bouzeron’s Aligoté producers, today’s featured wine. If the name sounds familiar, the ‘A’ in A. & P. de Villaine stands for Aubert de Villaine of fabled Domaine de la Romanée-Conti in Cote d’Or; his nephew Pierre de Benoist directs the domaine.

Tasting Notes

Wine: Domaine A. et P. de Villaine Bouzeron Aligoté

Vintage:  2014

Alcohol: 12.5%

Price: $32

Spec  (Note: Thanks to Soif Wine and Bar in Santa Cruz for stocking this wine.)

Robe:  Clear, pale gold hue.

Nez:    Discrete notes of mustard blossom, lemon, fleurs blanches.

Bouche:  Tart lemon zest, bright minerality; dry, light-bodied, vivacious.

I’ve chosen to pair this wine with a traditional recipe for gougères (cheese puff pastries) featured in the authentic French cookbook “Recipes from the Châteaux of Burgundy” by Gilles and Bleuzen du Pontavice, with photos by Claude Herlédan.

“Aunt Thérèse’s gourgères,” pg. 61

“50 cl. milk, 5 g. salt, 125 g. butter. Bring these ingredients to the boil. Remove from the heat and add 250 g. of flour. Stir for a minute over the heat to dry out the pastry. Remove from the heat and add eight (8) eggs, two by two, followed by 125 g of diced gruyere. Put into a greased ring-shaped baking tin or in small heaps onto a greased baking sheet. Bake in a hot oven.”

The recipe omits oven temperature ( Try 450 F.)

Good luck improvising with your own cheese variations – part of the charm of using these old recipes.

 June 17th 2017

concludes my guest hosting of 

The French #Winophiles 

A Virtual Tour of Burgundy, Part 2: Côte Chalonnaise, Mâconnais & Beaujolais.

 Here’s the Tour Guide for Part 2:

Jeff Burrows of FoodWineClick serves up “Salmon and Morels with the Domaine Wines of Louis Max.

Jill Barth of L’Occasion shares “Historic Vineyards of Mâcon.”

Michelle Williams of Rockin Red Blog regales us with: A Journey Through Burgundy Part 2, Exploring Mâconnais with #Winophiles.

Gwendolyn Lawrence Alley of Wine Predator takes on: “Bourgogne with Beef Bourguignon from an Instant Pot.”

Lynn Gowdy of Savor the Harvest steers us through “Navigating Southern Burgundy: Mâconnaise and Beaujolais.

Jane Niemeyer of Always Ravenous explores Discovering Rully Chardonnay + Bouzeron Aligoté in Burgundy’s Côte Chalonnaise.”

Nicole Ruiz Hudson of Somm’s Table schools us with “Cooking to the Wine: Jean-Marc Brocard Sainte Claire Chablis with Clam and Burrata Pizza.”

Wendy Klik of A Day in the Life on the Farm dips her toe in “Provence meets Burgundy.

Lauren Walsh of The Swirling Dervish swirls up Mercurey Rising: Pinot Noir from Burgundy’s Côte Chalonnaise.”

Link to the Virtual Tour of Burgundy, Part 1

I want to hear from you! Please leave your comments below. Cheers!

Copyrighted 2017 L.M. Archer | binNotes | redThread™. All Rights Reserved

Guest Wine Writer Series | № 10 | Jill Barth – Baux de Provence

Guest Wine Writer Series | № 10 | Jill Barth – Baux de Provence

Welcome to binNotes | redThread™

Inspired stories about wine and taste makers.

By L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne ML

The first Friday of every month through 2016, I’ve invited some of my fellow wine writers the opportunity to join me here on binNotes | red Thread™ to shine a light on a rare, obscure, or under-appreciated wine region for which they feel a special passion.

This final Guest Wine Writer series for 2016 features Wine Blogger of the Year Award Winner Jill Barth of L’occassion. A true wordsmith, Jill Barth crafts her stories with the ease of a bird in flight, winging us along on journeys to vineyards and villages with a breezy, effortless skill that both exhilarates and inspires.

I am truly honored to end 2016 with this feature by Jill. You are in for a treat – so grab a glass and get cozy!


Guest Wine Writer Series | № 10 | Jill Barth – Baux de Provence

Artfully Crafted: The Wines of Baux de Provence

Some things never get old: a late-sleep on the weekend, a hug from my kids, the scent of cinnamon apple, and wine from southern France…

Southern Rhône and Provençal wines truly inspire me, as they’ve done since I wrote my first paragraph about wine. While some of the wines from the area have their own zip code in cellars and wine shops, others are hidden behind importing limitations, small production or other roadblocks to global distribution. There are treasures to be discovered, and surprises of excellent taste and value.

One of these sweet spots is Baux de Provence AOP, in the northwestern corner of the Bouches du Rhône département. The vineyards cradle the Alpilles Mountains, a sort of inverse nest covered by scrub woods of rugged, herbal antiquity which embody the sight, scent, feel and taste of Provence. Situated around these mountains are a pocketful of communes, small hamlets of village and farm life. Eight villages and 12 estates form the collection of winemakers of Baux de Provence AOP (Appellation d’origine controlee).


Caption: A view of the village of Les Baux de Provence, carved into the Alpilles Mountains. Credit: Jill Barth

Biodynamics in Practice

Established on paper as a proper AOP 21 years ago, this is the sort of place that was established in practice well before the paperwork caught up to it. This is quite common in France; in fact, this is the working model of the system: walk the talk, do the work, make the wine and then ask about the label. The vignerons of Baux-de-Provence are still waiting on the paperwork to catch up in a very distinct way. Nearly 85% of the AOP practices biodynamique farming and viticulture. In France (and in other places) there is a process to become biodynamically certified and in fact many producers have undergone the steps to proudly announce their commitment. However, the AOP as a whole has not achieved a formal biodynamic status, but some are working towards this end…if it makes sense…and in fact, natural methods are often practical in vineyards that benefit from the cleansing puff of the Mistral wind that is present in the vineyards of Baux de Provence. Also, many of the producers here employ ancient ways, some of which have never departed from biodynamic procedures since their original days of growing crops for sustenance.


Caption: Domaine des Terres Blanches, a winemaker in Baux de Provence. Credit: Jill Barth

Making Wine in Baux de Provence

The sense that the vignerons care deeply about the environment is apparent. And why wouldn’t they be? This space is something incredible. Baux de Provence is one of the few areas in Provence where red wines are predominant.  Red wine production accounts for about 60%, rosé about 35%, and white wine (since their inclusion in AOP in 2011) a slight 5% or less of production.

Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah are the primary grapes used to make red and rosé wines, which must include a minimum of two grapes, and Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah must account for at least 50% of the blend. Other common blending grapes for red and rosé wines include Carignan, Cinsault, Counoise, Mourvèdre, and Cabernet Sauvignon. White wines composition is required to be 60% combined Clairette, Grenache Blanc, and Rolle (Vermentino), 10-30% Roussanne; Bourboulenc, Marsanne, and Ugni Blanc.


Caption: The winemakers of Baux de Provence celebrating 20 years as an AOP. Credit: Lionel MOULET, Les Vignerons des Baux de Provence

The vignerons of Baux de Provence are Chateau Dalmeran, Chateau Romanin, Chateau d’Estoublon, Domaine De Lauzières, Domaine Guilbert, Domaine de la Vallongue, Domaine des Terres Blanches, Domaine Hauvette, L’Affectif, Mas de la Dame, Mas de Gourgonnier, and Mas Sainte Berthe. Domaine de Trévallon opts to make IGP wines, rather than comply with the restrictions of making AOP wines.

A Treasure Chest

The area is also a designated origin for olives and olive oil, and it is not uncommon for both vineyards and olive groves to be tended by local domaines. The olive essence, to me, is imparted into the flavor of the wines, particularly the Syrah. This makes for a lovely unique profile, one that brings me back to Provence each time I open a bottle.

The area sits on an ancient Roman route and settlement, and Roman artifacts and structures still exist. Outside of St. Rémy-de-Provence a preserved space known as Les Antiques is the site of ancient Roman and Greek assemblies. The famous plane trees that line the rural roadways and village streets are of Roman origin as are some of the aqueducts that carry water through the area.


Caption: Les Antiques site near St. Rémy-de-Provence. Credit: Jill Barth

The area fosters a strong history of art and literature, a common inspiration being the light and shade that is famously stunning in Provence. Vincent Van Gogh spent some of the last months of his life within sight of Les Antiques and the village of St. Rémy-de-Provence when he was housed in Saint Paul de Mausole. It was here that he was cared for during unstable mental times and during his stay he painted the landscape, including The Starry Night, in which the village of St. Rémy is depicted. “This morning I saw the countryside from my window a long time before sunrise, with nothing but the morning star, which looked very big.” Van Gogh said of his inspiration for this piece.


Caption: Saint Paul de Mausole, where Van Gogh lived. Credit: Jill Barth

This area continues to inspire the winemakers of Baux de Provence, as they steady themselves with the quality of the terroir, tradition and Provençal creativity. People from all over the world visit Provence, to seek sun and sand, and while they are there it is often rosé in their glasses. The best rosés in the world come from Provence, and they can open the path the delights of the nearly-secret red wines of Provence and the even more exclusive wines of Baux de Provence, a space with remarkable heritage.


About the Author:

Jill is the author and founder of  L’occasion, awarded Best Wine Blog and Best Writing on a Wine Blog. She writes about wine, travel and food with a focus on Southern France and is a Provence Wine Master candidate. She also writes fiction and is the author of a novel about Provençal winemakers during the Second World War through the later part of their lives in 1970’s Napa. Jill lives in Illinois with her husband and three children.

Story and images printed by permission of the author, Jill Barth. 

Copyrighted 2016 binNotes | redThread™.  All Rights Reserved.

Burgundy’s Unforgettable 2016 Vintage

Burgundy’s Unforgettable 2016 Vintage

Dear Friends:

As Burgundy prepares  for its annual post-harvest celebration Les Trois Glorieuses this weekend, I wanted to share with you this beautiful film about the 2016 vintage, produced by BIVB.

In it, Burgundy’s regional vignerons recount the unforgettable 2016 vintage, a vintage of devastating frost and hail damage, yet surprisingly yields, and promising wines of elegance and balance.

Please enjoy and feel free to share your thoughts below.


All images courtesy BIVB.

Copyrighted 2016 binNotes | redThread™.  All Rights Reserved.




Welcome to binNotes | a wine blog.

by. L.M. Archer, FWS

WITWIB? Wines of Provence Wine Tasting at Mistral Kitchen

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I’m in a rosé state of mind…. after a fabulous recent wine tasting hosted by Wines of Provence and paired with the provocative flavors of Mistral Kitchen.

 Master Sommelier Eric Entrikin and Vins de Provence host Julie Peterson  put attendees through our wine tasting paces, while chef/owner William Belickis dazzled with his culinary delights.

Check back later this week for the low down on summer sippers from sunny Provence…and the inside scoop on my current trip to Napa, including some exciting, under-the-radar artisan wine makers.


Mistral Kitchen on Urbanspoon



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Copyrighted 2012-2014. All Rights Reserved.

Published: The Good Life France – Burgundy Wine Region

 Welcome to binNotes | a wine blog

by L.M. Archer, FWS

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It’s Official!

 My featured guest blog on Burgundy’s Wine Region is now published in The Good Life France.

Read it here.



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Janine Marsh – The Good Life France

Copyrighted 2012-2014. All rights reserved.

Écoutez! FWS Update

 Welcome to binNotes | a wine blog

by L.M. Archer, FWS

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It’s official! binNotes has passed the FWS Bourgogne Master Level Program exam.

Whew…time to break out the Crémant de Bourgogne!

Thanks to my dear readers, friends, family, freelance clients, and co-workers for putting up with me during the past few months as I lived, breathed, and dreamt BOURGOGNE all day, every day…Burgundy, the most Magnificent of Obsessions. Well worth the effort.



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Copyrighted 2012-2014. All rights reserved.

Terroirist Tuesday: Côte Chalonnaise: Meet the Winemakers

Welcome to Terroirist Tuesday: Côte Chalonnaise, Part 3 of 3 | Meet the Winemakers: Domaine du Meix Foulot

by: L. M. Archer, FWS

Domaine du Meix Foulot | Agnès Dewé de Launay, Winemaker
Le Meix Foulot | Touches | 71 640 Mercurey

In the slender shadow of Burgundy’s supermodel Cote d’Or lies the girl next door, Côte Chalonnaise. And like the girl next door, Côte Chalonnaise is the wine region folks barely notice – but once noticed, rarely forget.

The wine village of Mercurey, considered the heart of Côte Chalonnaise, produces some of the region’s finest red and white wines. binNotes recently visited one of Mercurey’s most historic and prestigious domaines, Domaine du Meix Foulot.

Situated upon the ruins Château de Montaigu, a castle built in approximately 950 AD at the request of the Duke of Burgundy, the vineyards of Meix-Foulot have belonged to the family of Launay for more than two centuries. Patriarch and domaine owner Paul de Launay, a man of towering height and formidable abilities, passed the wine making baton to his equally towering and talented daughter, Agnès Dewé, in 1996. A woman of grace, humor and pragmatism, Agnes provided our group a glimpse of the domaine’s wine making facilities, housed in an immaculately restored stone outbuilding. Here, she touched on her wine making  approach – she follows ‘no recipes’,  espouses minimal intervention, and engages the wisdom and patience of a mother overseeing the ‘élevage’ of a high-spirited child.

Domaine du Meix Foulot comprises over twenty hectares farmed as ‘close to nature’ as possible, and includes notable Mercurey 1er Cru Clos du Château de Montaigu,  a 1.9 hectare monopoly climat. Vines average 35 years, grown on a clay-limestone soil.

Tasting Notes:

Diffuse golden October sunlight glazed the turning hillsides of Domaine du Meix Foulot during the late afternoon of our visit. Bottle carrier of wines in hand, Agnès held court ‘in field,’ overlooking the vineyards from which each wine derived. The effect – magical. The ability to take notes – thwarted by juggling  glasses and sensory overload. But the impressions garnered still haunt.

Mercurey offers some of Burgundy’s most affordable 1er crus, with D. du Meix Foulot a prime example. Clear ruby robes, bright red fruits, light body, medium acid, soft tannins, balanced structure, and delicate finish – these are wines of versatility that span many courses, including lamb, risotto, and soft cheeses.

In the end, Mercurey 1er Cru 2009 – Les Veleys and Mercurey 1er Cru 2009 – Clos du Chateau de Montaigu emerged as clear binNotes favorites. Rosenthal Wine Merchant  imports to the US; consult your local wine shop to arrange a special delivery – well worth the effort.

Tasting Menu:

Mercurey Rouge 2009 D. du Meix Foulot
Mercurey 1er Cru 2009 – Clos du Chateau de Montaigu – monopole
Mercurey 1er Cru 2009 – Les Veleys
Mercurey 1er Cru 2008 – Les Veleys

This concludes binNotes Terroirist Tuesday series on the Côte Chalonnaise. See you again next week for a sneak peek at binNotes series on the Côte d’Or. Santé!

Côte Chalonnaise: Parts 1 and 2 live here:

Côte Chalonnaise, Part 2

Côte Chalonnaise, Part 1

Thank you:  D. du Meix Foulot – Agnès Dewé de Launay et de la familleBIVBFWS

Copyrighted 2012-2014. All Rights Reserved. All images courtesy of the author.

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