Maison Albert Bichot: United in Diversity

Maison Albert Bichot was founded in 1831. Over the years the company has developed and expanded considerably to become one of Burgundy’s most prestigious winemakers. Much of its success can be attributed to the philosophy of Albéric Bichot. Somewhat echoing the motto of the European Union, he firmly believes that that each of his wine estates should keep to a human scale and have autonomy: in varietate concordia!  

On Monday, 15th May, the whole iDealwine team enjoyed a day trip to Burgundy. Maison Albert Bichot kindly welcomed us to show us around some of its domaines. The day included tours, walks among the vines and, of course, tastings!

The Bichot family settled in Burgundy centuries ago – in 1350 to be exact. Maison Bichot itself was founded by Bernard Bichot in 1831 as a wine trading company in Monthélie. He was succeeded by his son Hippolyte who bought the very first vines in Volnay. His son, Albert Bichot, then moved the business to the centre of Beaune in 1912. Several generations later, in 1996, Albéric Bichot took over and he is still in charge today. He has contributed the most to expanding the company’s vineyards which now encompass six different estates – Domaine du Clos Frantin and Château Gris in Nuits-Saint-Georges, Domaine du Pavillon in Pommard, Domaine Adélie in Mercurey, Domaine de Rochegrès in Moulin-à-vent and Domaine Long-Depaquit in Chablis.

Although these different estates are associated under the same entity – Maison Albert Bichot – they operate autonomously and have their own teams, facilities and distinctive style. All of them share the company’s values however, starting with respect for the environment. A significant proportion of vineyards are certified organic (Domaine du Clos Frantin, Château-Gris, Domaine du Pavillon and Domaine Adélie), and each team is committed to sustainability, even when buying in grapes. Going beyond organic farming, as much work as possible is done manually- the soil is tilled by horses (and not just to add a quaint touch, we really did see a horse working in the vineyards!) and treated with organic fertilisers. In a similar vein, the vinification process is as low intervention as possible, allowing the distinctive qualities of each terroir to be fully expressed. Wines are transferred to the cellar by gravity flow before beginning an élevage period of between 12 and 18 months.

Because of the quality of its terroirs, and its working techniques in both the vineyards and the chais, Maison Albert Bichot is now one of Burgundy’s most prestigious winemakers.

 

The Albert Bichot wines we tasted on our day out:

  • Secret de Famille 2014 (Burgundy): a Pinot Noir made from a blend of grapes selected from parcels in top quality terroirs in the Côte de Nuits. The wine is meticulously produced in small quantities. We fell in love with its fruity aromas, smooth and silky texture, roundness, finesse, drinkability and wonderful long finish. Perfect as an aperitif with a little cold meat, or at the table with poultry.
  • Pommard, Domaine du Pavillon – Clos des Ursulines 2014 (monopole): a 4 hectare monopole vineyard. The wine has beautiful red fruit aromas that come together beautifully on the palate, along with some spicy notes. It has density and body, ripe and elegant tannins, and a refined texture. Everything culminates in a wonderfully long, silky, and pleasantly spicy finish.
  • Gevrey-Chambertin – Les Evocelles 2014: produced from grapes bought in by Maison Bichot, this wine is very fruity, toasty and moreish. It is very full on the palate and is refined, rounded, concentrated and distinguished, with beautiful mineral notes and plenty of freshness.
  • Montagny Premier Cru 2015: this wine opens up easily. It is very drinkable and moderately concentrated, striking the perfect balance between roundness and vivacity. A full expression of the terroir.
  • Meursault 2014, Domaine du Pavillon: this cuvée is very typical of Meursault, with intense aromas of toast set off with floral and white-fleshed fruit notes. It is powerful and dense on the palate, with volume and a beautiful creamy texture, roundness, and brioche flavours. Everything culminates in a wonderful long and flavoursome finish.
  • Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Terrasses 2015, Château Gris (monopole): this superb white Nuits-Saint-Georges is produced from a 0.67 hectare vineyard parcel. It boasts delightful aromas of white flowers and white fleshed fruits, mineral notes and a deliciously fruity and rounded palate. This Nuits Saint Georges combines the finesse of the Chardonnay grape with the power of a terroir usually reserved for red wines (just 2% of the appellation area is planted with white grapes). The result is a powerful wine with an outstanding finish.

This top-notch tasting session confirmed to us that wines from this producer are truly excellent. This includes cuvées made from bought-in grapes (which do not have the “domaine” hallmark).

We would like to thank Isabelle Philippe, Michel Crestanello and of course Albéric Bichot heartily for welcoming us and for the wonderful day we were able to spend at their company.  For iDealwine this was certainly a day to remember!

 

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