Five different aligotés! Five! What is going on with the lovely people at Chanterêves? Have they lost their marbles, or are they taking aligoté to new levels?
In all fairness, no one would ask the same question of a Meursault producer who makes five different Meursaults. While aligoté might be an old grape variety, as a grape for serious wine, it’s a newcomer – aside from the odds and ends like Ponsot’s Clos des Monts Luisants.
I have always been a big fan of Chanterêves, and like all talented vignerons, I’ve been wanting good grapes and vineyards to come their way.
The 2020 vineyard acquisition
This estate has a special place in the ‘Hog’s heart, as I like and enjoy both the wines and the people behind this estate: Tomoko Kuriyama and Guillaume Bott. They are tremendously nice people, and if anyone deserves success, they do.
I was pleased when I learned a couple of years ago that they had expanded their domaine by 4.7 hectares, adding to the small aligoté parcel they’d acquired earlier. With 5 ha of their own vineyards, they can now proudly use the Domaine Chanterêves label next to the well-known Maison Chanterêves.
The expansion comes with 3 ha of Hautes Cotes de Beaune – 50% chardonnay and 50% aligoté – located in the Fussey area on the border between the Hautes Cotes of Beaune and Nuits. That is a lot of aligoté!
Additionally, the estate includes 0.2 ha of Chorey-les-Beaune in the lieu-dit Champs Longs, located at the northern end of Chorey, as well as 0.85 ha in the Savigny-les-Beaune vineyard Dessus de Montchenevoy, situated north of the village.
The aligotes: 1.5 ha and change
Chanterêves began their collection of aligoté vineyards in 2017 with a plot on the road between Beaune and Nuits-Saint-Georges, just below Domaine d’Ardhuy estate.
This aligoté – Les Chagniots – is made from very old vines located below the road, as most aligoté plots were back in the day.
In 2020, the aligoté potential increased by an order of magnitude, as Chanterêves acquired 1.5 ha of vines around Fussey, between 400-470 metres of altitude.
With an additional 1.5 ha, Chanterêves suddenly had a new beautiful instrument, and became able to explore and display different expressions of the aligoté grape; this is quite new.
The five Aligoté samurai
Based on experience, soil research, and the nature of the vines on the plots, Guillaume and Tomoko decided on the following five cuvees:
Les Monts de Fussey
Bas des Ees
Miarlons du Bas
All of them except Les Chagniots are around Fussey.
I have tasted them all from cask at a very early stage, but have yet to tasted them all bottled. I look forward to this, as two or even three of these wines are in contention to be amongst the best aligotés in Burgundy, i.e. the world as we know it today.
From my tastings I found two favourites so far amongst the 2020s: the old-vine Les Chagniots, and the outstandingly vivid and pure Miarlons du Bas, a wine I’ve enjoyed several times over the last six months.
The new Chanterêves labels
Chanterêves has changed its labels from the old, rather simplistic – yet lovely – version to a beautiful, artistic new label with enough room to fit its full range of wines. That, by the way, is quite large, with petnats, aligotés, chardonnays, and pinot noirs.
Here are some examples of the new labels:
I have tasting notes on three aligotés:
Chanterêves Aligoté Bas des Ees 2020
This is quite refined, with a gourmand feel and a magnificent, hedonistic character with lovely balance and intensity. Perhaps a bit more on the feminine side than the two others (see below), it leaves a generous, delicate impression.
(Drink from 2022) – Very Good – (89-90p) – Tasted 20/07/2022 –
Chanterêves Aligoté Les Chagniots 2020
The Les Chagniots is a vinous effort with clear influence from the old vines. It bears some resemblance to Nicolas Faure’s aligoté, with its grand cru-like vinousness. Not a super mineral wine, it nonetheless has a richness and intensity rarely found in an aligoté. A contender for the top spot, but in the end lacks a bit in equalling Faure.
(Drink from 2026) – Very Good– (90p) – Tasted 20/07/2022 –
Chanterêves Aligoté Miarlons du Bas 2020
This has it all: minerality, intensity, and tremendous acidity. I have tasted this wine several times, and the 2020 ticks all my boxes, as it gives me a mouth-filling experience, a depth and refinement that the other contenders are missing, and true vivacity and freshness. The Faure aligoté is great, but this comes very close.
(Drink from 2022) – Very Good – (90-91p) – Tasted 20/07/2022 –
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