There's More to Life than Chardonnay

Vincent Dureuil-Janthial Bourgogne Aligoté 2006

Welcome to Bourgogne, France (aka Burgundy). Home to eastern French headliners Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Oh, and Aligoté [ah-lee-goh-TAY] a lesser known, almost rambunctious yet immensely pleasant grape from the small appellation of Bourgogne Aligoté.

Who doesn't love an underdog? Consistently in the shadow of its enormously popular neighbor Chardonnay, Aligoté gets very little play but when produced from old vines, for those in the know, a special treat awaits.

Lost among my mid-summer wine purchases, I discovered this racy bottle while searching for the right wine to enjoy with some fresh roasted pumpkin seeds. It's that time of year again and let me state clearly, I've stumbled upon paring perfection...

Golden lemon in color, this Aligoté opens with the generous perfume of sweet, spiced citrus, mild carrots and layers of rich tropical fruit. The palate is no less than electric. Medium-bodied with a knife-sharp initial acidity that smooths into an intense marriage of lemon, salted nuts and grassy bay leaf flavors. Bright, fresh, clean and complex.

The mixture of citrus, tropical and nutty characteristics lead me to believe that this wine saw time in oak and possible aging on the lees, thus adding to its rich character. With a dual-sided, crisp yet savory nature this Aligoté served as a delightful complement to the season's first batch of roasted pumpkin seeds and delivers pleasure far beyond its value-based price of $16-18.

In buying, pairing and sipping remember, there's more to life than Chardonnay.