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Albert Bichot Domaines: 2007 Update (2005’s)

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.

2005 Long-Depaquit, Chablis 1er Cru Les Vaillonstry to find this wine...
The number of bottles of this cuvée is reducing as the younger vines are now regularly going into a separate ‘1er cru’ cuvée. This left-bank wine is a mix of parcels focusing mainly on Epinottes and Séchet. The nose is understated and focused, the palate is sweet, with rather well concentrated flavours and a nice flavourful fruit-driven length. It’s a very nice wine – and always a very well priced bottling – but in this vintage, doesn’t really shout ‘Chablis!’ to me.
2005 Long-Depaquit, Chablis 1er Cru Les Vaucoupinstry to find this wine...
This right-bank cuvée has a lovely, more mineral nose with accents of citrus fruit. The palate seems similarly concentrated to the Vaillons but everything is delivered in a much more mineral fashion. Philippe quotes “as Vaillons starts to die Vaucoupins starts to wake”. This is my style of Chablis, it is mineral, it is understatedly intense and has lovely acidity breaking across the palate into the finish. Excellent!
2005 Long-Depaquit, Chablis Grand Cru Les Blanchotstry to find this wine...
A nose of faint spice and deep, ripe, melon-infused fruit. The sweet palate is bathed in complex and rich fruit flavours. The texture is excellent – the overall impression being borderline rich, the acidity just about achieves sufficient balance. It’s an impressive effort.
2005 Long-Depaquit, Chablis Grand Cru Les Clostry to find this wine...
A more mineral rather than sweet nose – quite understated with faint brioche and hints of citrus. Likewise the palate displays understated power and real minerality – super depth. What fruit shows itself is very ripe but pretty much hidden under the structure. Really fine acidity pushes a wonderful length. Really excellent.
2005 Long-Depaquit, Chablis Grand Cru Les Vaudesirstry to find this wine...
The nose starts wide but with limited depth, only slowly in the glass does it reach deaper. Even after the ‘Clos’ this seems more mineral again, very, very long too. The waves of flavour just keep washing over the palate. This is a really successful blend of richness, power and minerality bound to a wonderfully ebullient personality – I loved it.
2005 Long-Depaquit, Chablis Grand Cru ‘Moutonne’try to find this wine...
The nose is quite dense, riper and more fruit driven than the Vaudesir. The palate is richer and also a little sweeter than that wine – still with the minerality for super Chablis though. It’s a real mouthful of wine, intense yet presented in a more refined fashion than the ‘wall of flavour’ offered by the Vaudesir. The length impresses terribly. The domaine thinks that the gap between this wine and the others is the widest they have ever seen.
Albert Bichot

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.

2005 Albert Bichot, Bourgogne Chardonnay Vieilles Vignestry to find this wine...
The nose is nicely mineral and high-toned. Very 2005 in its richness and good texture, but the flavour profile is more savoury than the sweet, sweet, sweet vernacular of the vintage. The 20% oak used in its elevage can only be seen on the flavour of the finish. In terms of the team’s aim, I think this is a bulls-eye.
Domaine du Pavillon

Less than 2 weeks in bottle for most of these.

2005 Domaine du Pavillon, Meursaulttry to find this wine...
A high-toned nose of quite understated depth. After the subdued nose the palate impresses with its volume and its forward presentation. There is good width and a nice (small) extra dimension on the mid-palate before the good acidity takes you into the reasonable finish. Quite nice and should only get better as it recovers from bottling.
2005 Domaine du Pavillon, Meursault 1er Cru Charmestry to find this wine...
A wide and deep nose – very forward with hints of butterscotch. Really nice freshness on the palate from very good acidity for a 2005. Perhaps some of the fireworks on the palate are down to a hint of petillance but there’s a lovely, very, very long and creamy finish. This is a super, super wine.
2005 Domaine du Pavillon, Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Mouchestry to find this wine...
The nose is rather similar to the villages Meursault, understated and precise. Broad-shouldered, rather simple flavours only hint at the concentrated base. There is good acidity providing a very nice balance, but today this wine showed little.
2005 Domaine du Pavillon, Corton-Charlemagnetry to find this wine...
The nose shows density but is quite tight. Hints of pear fruit begin to show themselves as the nose slowly becomes more expressive. This is another wine where the concentration has a rather savoury edge. The mis-palate intensity when couples with the gushing acidity makes this almost too intense to keep in the mouth. Equally long as the Meursault Charmes but with a much more mineral impression. A super wine.
Albert Bichot

2005 Albert Bichot, Bourgogne Pinot Noir Vieilles Vignestry to find this wine...
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 try to find this wine...
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 Ursulinestry to find this wine...
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 Rugienstry to find this wine...
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 Marechaudestry to find this wine...
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 Marechaudestry to find this wine...
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 Crutry to find this wine...
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 Crutry to find this wine...
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.

Albert Bichot

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 Crutry to find this wine...
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 Crutry to find this wine...
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 Crutry to find this wine...
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 Crutry to find this wine...
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!

2 responses to “Albert Bichot Domaines: 2007 Update (2005’s)”

  1. Andrew Martin

    Hi Biil,
    A very interesting set of notes, especially as Bichot is to be made available to us antipodals I believe. Wonder if any of the above were sealed with an alternative to the dreaded tree bark? It was really heartening to read your diary notes about screw caps, and that the Burgundians are starting to realise the horror a bad cork (is there a good one?) can cause. Just hope the wine making is thorough enough to avoid sulphide and reduction problems before bottling. As a side note have you encountered the glass stoppers which some Austrians are using? A bit prettier than the functional screw cap. After two or three TCA ruined premier and grand crus this all becomes a bit of a crusade – but to have a ten year old, $200 wine written off by a dodgy 50 cent cork is well, just beyond polite words.
    Cheers – Andrew – Melbourne

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