Domaine A. et P. de Villaine - Bouzeron
First village of the Côte Chalonnaise, located about twenty kilometers south-west of Beaune, is the one and only ‘Appellation Communale’ belonging to the very old Aligoté cépage. The Domaine de Vilaine, property of Aubert de Vilaine (co-manager of the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti) is placed under the responsibility of his nephew, Pierre de Benoist, since 2001.
The Domaine produces (very good) Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but Aligoté is Pierre de Benoist’s pride and glory. The Bouzeron produced at the estate is made out of very old vines called ‘golden’ (in opposition to the rightly named ‘green’ types) which give a lower yield but aromatic wines of a smoother quality.
One has to remember that before the phylloxera crisis, Aligoté was worked with the same level of quality as Chardonnay (in company of which it was often planted) or Pinot was. But this generous cépage requires more efforts in the vines than Chardonnay (severe pruning and disbudding) and it has often beeen replanted down hillsides with soils richer in clay than in limestone, thus not suitable for the production of high standard grapes.
During the 1930’s, Canon Félix Kir, judging Bourgogne Aligoté too sour decided to soften it with ‘crème de cassis’ (blackcurrant liqueur)… As we know, hell is paved with the best intentions, and so was the reputation of Aligoté established… It would have remained such without the intelligence, the energy and the culture of a few rebels decided to polish up the image of this lovely cépage naturally aromatic and able to produce a wine, showing a unique mineral and iodine savour. Grapes are harvested highly matured, the Domaine has been under organic agriculture from 1986 onwards and certified ‘Qualité France’ since 1997. Fertilizers are limited to organic vegetal compost (following Fukuoka’s prescriptions), soft and natural vinification in old tuns.