Domaine Coteaux des Margots, Bourgogne Aligoté "La Pie-Rouette"
Here’s the lowdown on Aligoté: It’s the hardier, earlier-ripening cousin of Chardonnay that’s planted in all sorts of “lesser” locations throughout Burgundy. It’s one of the wine world’s “also-rans,” right up there with the likes of Cinsault, or Trebbiano. But, as with those “country cousin” contemporaries, there are flashes of brilliance—with Aligoté especially. When treated with care and planted someplace good, Aligoté can be every bit as textural and terroir-expressive as Chardonnay. They are not such distant relatives, after all, but since Chardonnay’s the harder-to-get of the two, Aligoté has been relegated to the background. This bright, structured, mineral Aligoté from a family estate in the Mâcon makes a delicious case for this overlooked grape, delivering genuine white Burgundy minerality and class at a great price.
Coteaux des Margots, in local parlance, means “Magpie’s hill,” and this small farm has been in the Duroussay family for generations. In the past, they sold wine to local négociants (merchant-bottlers), but introduced their own label about 10 years ago. Pierre-Julien Duroussay officially took over operations from his father in 2016, while his brother, Paul, also a winemaker, handles importation to the US, where he now lives.
This cuvée (“La Pie-Rouette,” or “cartwheel”) is 100% Aligoté fermented on native yeasts in 60-hectoliter concrete tanks, then aged in those same tanks for about eight months on the fine lees (spent yeasts). The wine completed malolactic fermentation, lending it a characteristic creamy note, but there’s still plenty of brightness and “cut” to the acidity. It is lightly filtered at bottling, when it also receives a very small addition of sulfur.
The wine pours a pale yellow-gold with hints of green at the rim, with aromatics that reflect its kinship with Chardonnay: green and yellow apple, salted lemon, a hint of white peach, white flowers, fresh cream, and crushed stones. The minerality and acidity are bright and well-balanced by ripe fruit and a hint of yeast. Pair with classic French seafood preparations like sole meunière for an elevated weeknight dinner.