Each glass of wine we drink takes us on an excursion to some of the most incredible wine destinations worldwide. We live vicariously through the glass. For this article, let’s travel to Burgundy to discover a six-generation family that has made their mark on Burgundian wine, Albert Bichot.
The Albert Bichot Family
Family roots go back to 1214, but they did not establish themselves in Burgundy, Châteauneuf-en-Auxois until 1350. In 1831, Bernard Bichot founded a wine trading company in Monthélie, an area just south of Beaune. In 1912 his son Albert moved the family business to Beaune.
Today Albéric Bichot runs this notable house. Under his stewardship, the family has 110 hectares of vineyards within six noteworthy estates. The ultimate goal and philosophy involve respect for terroir and nature through organic and sustainable viticulture practices. One of Albéric’s most significant achievements was converting the estate vineyards to farming organically. Those vineyards not converted to organics are farmed with an environmentally responsible approach. Due to the conversion, Albert Bichot obtained Ecocert’s “organic agriculture” certification in 2014. Beyond that certification, Albert Bichot is also certified as an Ecocert “organic wine.” The latter accreditation concerns those wines from Domaine du Clos Frantin, Château-Gris, Domaine du Pavillon and Domaine Adélie.
Albert Bichot is composed of six estates, and each represents an important region of Burgundy and runs north to south. Each Domaine has separate winemakers and produces its wine at that location. The idea, every winemaker establishes their autonomy with the terroir that varies in each area. Head Winemaker Alain Serveau oversees all the estates.
Domaine Long-Depaquit: Founded in 1791, this Château represents the largest of all the Albert Bichot properties. Located in the heart of Chablis, the estate prides itself in limiting the yields and non-intervention vinification, thus enabling the production of mineral-driven and elegant wines, including Chablis, Grands Crus, and Premiers Crus.
Domaine du Clos Frantin: The estate is located in Nuits-Saint-George in the Côte de Nuits. At this winery, they specialize in Grands Crus, Premiers Crus, and Village Appellations.
Château- Gris: Another estate located Nuits-Saint-George in the Côte de Nuits. Here the terraced vineyards grow both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. This estate creates Premier Cru and Village Appellation wines.
Domaine du Pavillon: The estate is located in Pommard and designated as Côte de Beaune. Meursault and Montrachet denotes some of the important wine of this region.
Domaine Adélie: Named after Albéric Bichot’s daughter, the winery in Mercurey is known for producing Côte Chalonnaise reds and whites.
Domaine de Rochegrès: Albert Bichot purchased this winery in 2014, making it one of their newer estates. The Domaine is located in the heart of Moulin-à-Vent, known for producing some of the most prestigious crus in Beaujolais.
In the Vineyard And The Winery
Besides being organic, Albert Bichot practices sustainable viticulture, diversity, and the development of biodiversity by respecting the terroir. The vines vary from 30 to 60 years, depending on the location. Throughout the estates each year, many vines are replanted, providing healthy younger vines, thus creating diversity in the age of the vine.
With a goal of minimum intervention, red wines typically age from 12 to 16 months in oak barrels, while white wines age for 11 to 16 months in stainless steel and oak barrels where the fermentation is conducted.
The oak treatment consists of new and used barrels with varying degrees of toast and diverse origins, including the Troncais and Allier forests. The goal is to create discrete, complex, nicely integrated, and elegant wines.
Matthieu Mangenot – Assistant Technical Director
My introduction to the Albert Bichot wines came when I met Matthieu Mangenot, the Assistant Technical Director, at a wine tasting luncheon. Matthieu’s training as an agronomist and an oenologist gives him a broad approach to winemaking. He joined Albert Bichot in 2007 as the Domaine Long-Depaquit estate manager in Chablis. In 2018, Matthieu began as the assistant technical director.
Albert Bichot Burgundian Wine
Visiting the Hammer Museum’s Lulu Restaurant, with its delightful indoor-outdoor setting, enhanced the experience of tasting the Albert Bichot wines.
Crémant de Bourgogne Brut Réserve
Our luncheon began with Crémant de Bourgogne Brut Réserve. This style of sparkling wine using the Traditional Method represents the historical heritage of this process in Burgundy. Crémant consists of 10% of wines in Burgundy. I found a light seductive Crémant with flavors of Brioche and almond.
Chablis Domaine Long-Depaquit: I discovered a classic Chablis with lovely aromas of white flowers. The wine’s viscosity leads to citrus flavors, primarily lemon with some notes of almonds. This Chablis ages in stainless steel on fine lees for ten months.
Chablis Premier Cru “Montmains” Domaine Long-Depaquit: This Chablis was more refined. The vineyard is located on the left bank of the Serein River. The wine ages 35% in oak barrels and the remainder in vats for 20 months. I found wonderful floral notes on the nose and richer, more concentrated with hints of almonds.
Meursault Premier Cru “Les Charmes” Domaine Du Pavillon: Meursault is considered one of Burgundy’s flagship and well-reputed wines. Located in the southern portion of Burgundy, the wine consists of 100% Chardonnay that ages in oak barrels and 25% new for twelve to fifteen months. I found a wine that is mellow, rich, and more rounded.
Moulin-À-Vent Domaine De Rochegrés: Rochegrés means grey rock and describes the granite rock lying at the surface in the vineyards. The wine ages 10 to 12 months in 50% 350 litre barrels, while the rest stays in vats. This Gamay reflects a bright demeanor with floral aromas.
Gevrey-Chambertin Domaine Du Clos Frantin: The vineyard consists of marl-based soils with gravel on the surface, giving Pinot Noir elegance, while clayey marls filled with shellfish fossils provide body and firmness to the wine. The wine ages in oak barrels for 14 to 16 months, of which 20 -30% represents new oak. The wine displays aromas of ripe fruit and opens to a silky well-balanced finish.
Pommard “Clos Des Ursulines” Monopole – Domain Du Pavillon: This Pommard represents a Village Level appellation. The vineyard’s location lies south of Beanne in what was once a convent. The wine exhibits as full-bodied and rich with nice acidity and silky soft textures giving the Pommard elegance. Aging occurs in oak barrels for 14 to 16 months, 20 – 30% new oak.
Note: Common to the wine industry, this writer received a hosted winetasting luncheon. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure.