Maison Albert Bichot continue to go from strength to strength. Yields are ever-so-slowly reducing and the team are improving their wines throughout the range. The wines that follow were presented in Beaune at the end of February 2007.
What impressed me most about these wines was the overall lack of any maker’s signature, just seriously presented, more than occasionally wonderful wines – in particular there was none of that ‘almost too sweet’ impression that some producer’s 2005s’ show. About 3 weeks later as I was writing up my notes the memory of some of these wines came back to me such that I still had the impression that I could taste some of them!
It was interesting to hear (and taste) a little of what became of the 2005 produce from the Domaine René Engel, the team at Bichot purchased everything so that the remaining family members could cover the death-duty costs. You can find some notes on this lower down the page in the middle of the Domaine du Clos Frantin wines.
Domaine Long-Depaquit – Chablis
Jean-Didier Basch, regisseur of the 65 hectare Long-Depaquit estate, had to work very hard for his 2005’s, not only did he reduce his yields (Les Clos gave only 33 hl/ha), but he also had only a relatively short window to harvest as the grapes ripened very, very quickly. A little less wood was used – 30% for Les Clos, 20% for the the other grand crus, stainless steel for the rest, there was also a little less lees stirring for these 2005s’.
These wines were mainly bottled in December 2006 and work very well as ‘Chablis’ despite the inherant richness of the vintage. There’s nothing here that I would be unhappy to drink, and most I would be happy to find the cash to put them in my own cellar.
Just because a wine wears a generic label doesn’t mean that the approach needs to be similarly generic. This wine uses fruit only from the Côte d’Or – so no Maconaise or Chalonaise grapes – also, from its inception the aim was to make a food-friendly wine rather than a fruit-forward wine.
Domaine du Pavillon
Less than 2 weeks in bottle for most of these.
2005 Albert Bichot, Bourgogne Pinot Noir Vieilles Vignes
Only made from grapes – no must or part-finished wine. Medium, medium-plus cherry red. High-toned, quite precise fruit on the nose – cherry compote. Lots of fresh fruit flavour here. The tannins have some grain and ‘grab’ your mouth with a little astringency – but they are quite ripe and playful. Whilst there is an almost Beaujolais aspect to the fruit, this is a great wine at its very low price point.
2005 Albert Bichot, Santenay Les Charmes
This is the first vinification chez Bichot. Medium-plus colour. The nose is deep and fresh, supported by sweet cherry fruit. Soft and sweet with good concentration. The tannins show a little grain and grab but melt away in the finish. This is a very good mouthful of pure pinot fruit that I expect should offer excellent value.
Domaine du Pavillon
2005 Domaine du Pavillon, Pommard Clos des Ursulines
Quite deep colour. The nose is dense and a little tight – it needs a few minutes in the glass before showing its fruit. A soft and sweet entry; the flavours expand quickly across the mid-palate – lots of balance here. There ares plenty of tannins, but they melt well in the finish. This is a very tasty and fun wine.
2005 Domaine du Pavillon, Pommard 1er Cru Les Rugiens
A deep colour to match a deep nose. There’s plenty of minerality and submerged black-skinned fruit – it almost seems like two wines in the mouth; fresh, concentrated, lovely fruit slips between lots and lots of tannin. The tannin melts very well into a superbly long finish. This wine seems on one hand understated, on the other a bit of a monster, but certainly never brutal. This is very, very impressive.
2005 Domaine du Pavillon, Aloxe-Corton 1er Cru Clos des Marechaudes
Almost opaque. A little too much reduction on the nose to get at what lies below – I didn’t stay long enough with the glass to get more. Very well textured with floods of flavour running alongside very good acidity. There is so much joie-de vivre here – this is the perfect example why I often buy Aloxe to drink young!
2005 Domaine du Pavillon, Corton Grand Cru Clos des Marechaudes
Again this is pretty-much opaque in colour. An understated nose with a dense, brooding base – just a little too tight for picking components. Really excellent fruit – super. The tannins are well managed and the length is again super but very understated. Just knock-out fruit quality here.
Domaine du Clos Frantin
2005 Domaine du Clos Frantin, Echézeaux Grand Cru
Medium, medium-plus cherry red. A wide and rather subtle nose showing hints of earth. The palate is lithe and a little tannic. Good acidity and superbly wide, creamy complex flavours that go on and on. This does not have the density of the wines that follow but it’s a marvel in a glass and highly recommended!
2005 Domaine du Clos Frantin, Grands-Echézeaux Grand Cru
Medium-plus cherry red colour. The nose starts quite animale, taking quite some time to subside leaving only the most subtle of dark-skinned fruit aromas. There is a lot of wine here; ragged, chewy tannins leave little room for elegance, but you are left with quite profound, complex wine that bursts across the palate with red and black fruit flavours into the very long finish.
The following wine is made from the grapes purchased from the family of (Philippe) Domaine René Engel. The Bichot team were closely involved in the harvest, though for logistic reasons these grapes were harvested about 5 days before those of Bichot’s Clos Frantin Grands-Echézeaux. The Engel vines are the first rows next-door to Echézeaux in the south of the vineyard, compared to the Clos Frantin vines which lie about 250 metres away next-to the wall of the Clos de Vougeot. The Engel vines are older, but were cropped at slightly higher yields – as was the Engel norm. Bichot took away the grapes and vinified everything themselves at their cuverie in Nuits – for info, the 2006 ‘Latour’ versions are also currently being made in the same cuverie.
Whilst I was interested to look at this wine, it’s a fair assumption that if you see the standard ‘Albert Bichot’ label sporting Vosne-Romanée, Echezeaux or Clos de Vougeot labels then it may contain a high percentage of Engel fruit. I’m expecting that the Vosne-Romanée 1er Brulées may have been declassified to the villages Vosne (or even re-sold) as the team seemed less happy with this cuvée.
2005 Albert Bichot, Grands-Echézeaux Grand Cru
Only slightly darker than the Clos Frantin version. The nose is much more fruit driven but very tight. The concentration here is similar to the Clos Frantin but it’s more elegantly packaged. The finish is also equally long but with this glass it appears just a hint more complex with an added creamy depth. To choose between this and the Clos Frantin version is purely a matter of personal taste, mine lies here.
Domaine du Clos Frantin
2005 Domaine du Clos Frantin, Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru
Medium-plus colour. The nose is very fine; high-toned, linear with delicate red and black fruits. Executive packaging on the palate – good fruit, plenty of tannin, quite some extension into the finish – an almost haunting finish. Not even vaguely austere, just very, very classy. Bravo.
2005 Domaine du Clos Frantin, Chambertin Grand Cru
Medium-plus colour. The nose is impressive with mineral and faintly animale notes mingling with dark fruit – very complex. Concentrated fruit magnificently covers the tannin. Linear entry to the palate, only subltly widening into the mid-palate before impressively bursting into the multi-dimensional finish. Wow! And I thought the Clos de Vougeot was good – this is fantastic quality.
2005 Domaine du Clos Frantin, Richebourg Grand Cru
After the frankly brilliant wines that preceded this, unfortunately we didn’t quite finish with a bang – this was rather unknit and apparently needs some time to settle: Deeply coloured. The nose at first is a little uninspiring – wide but ill-defined – slowly it improves and provides a little coffee depth. The palate is lithe with fairly well covered tannin, but it’s the cream-edged fruit that impresses the most – certainly the most striking of any wine here. The length is also, frankly, superb, but overall this is a wine today of parts and potential rather than cohesion. I’d happily drive some distance to taste it again once it’s settled down though!