Improvements both in the winery and most importantly the vineyards are really now coming to fruition for large negociant Maison Albert Bichot. Following the reduction of yields, careful extraction, prudent whole bunch fermentation, cold maceration and sensible use of new oak, the wines produced can now compete against those from some of the very best producers in Burgundy.
The Albert Bichot enterprise has remained a family owned business since its conception in 1831. Representing the sixth generation, Albéric Bichot heads up the domaine today. Their steep qualitative upward curve – alongside other negociants Louis Jadot, Joseph Drouhin and Faiveley – today represent an excellent quality-to-price ratio. The Domaine du Clos Frantin wines (the top estate within the wider Maison Albert Bichot Group) are some of the very best wines in Burgundy whereas their négociant wine offers great terroir insight from across the region at some of the sharpest prices.
The 2018 Vintage
We spoke with head winemaker Alain Serveau regarding the 2018 vintage who was extremely happy with the final results, yet the maturity levels of the fruit meant the élevage process required careful management.
After a number of challenging conditions in previous vintages, Alain was happy to report that the “2018 vintage offered close to perfect conditions. With such conditions, the challenge was to keep the “charge” in the wines and to avoid reaching high yields in order to maintain concentrations.”
This required necessary “de-budding” during springtime, something they carry out every year. He went on to say: “at the time of harvest we reached a perfect combination: very satisfactory yield levels, great maturity in all sectors and perfect sanitary conditions. Despite the volume, as long as we kept things in control, it did not result in dilution but very good concentrations.”
During élevage, Alain tends to favour keeping wines in barrel for 15 – 18 months, particularly the reds which benefit from the “micro oxygenation”. But with the 2018s, the impression in the first part of the élevage was that the vintage was rather marked by the varietal – that is, the wines were dominated by their fruitiness as opposed to their distinct terroir expressions. Alain felt further barrel ageing would not add much and was keen to keep the “croquant” (bite) of the fruit, they therefore began to blend the different barrels into one cuvée more rapidly than usual with the intention to bottle the wines earlier.
However whilst doing this with some of their Village white wines, Alain was surprised to see how the remaining wines in barrel had gathered back and densified, they had gained in definition and what had appeared as “varietal marked” had evolved into a more precise terroir expression, this led Alain to reconsider the early bottling and allow for the élevage to carry on. Some whites from small villages are being bottled but they decided to wait for the other whites and reds and will adapt based on their evolution.
The 2018 Flavour Profile (according to Alain Serveau)
- Reds are “croquant” and very well balanced, long and full.
- Whites that were initially tight and closed at the beginning of élevage but have since become longer on the palate.
- Both reds and whites have really benefited from the élevage gaining in finesse, tension and precision and have really densified whilst becoming more restrained.
Alain goes on to say: “With the way we conducted our viticultural requirements and our careful choice of the harvest date and yield control for both domaines and sourced grapes, we worked with a great quality vintage throughout Burgundy and we are pleased with the resulting wines that are concentrated, dense and well balanced.”
In regard to appellations that really shined in the vintage, he promoted the underappreciated appellation of Fixin and was particularly happy with their Fixin Premier Cru Perriere. He believes Morey Saint Denis, Pommard, Corton and Volnay also all offer good value in 2018.
2018 saw the Domaine wines at Albert Bichot complete their organic certification. Under the guidance of Alberic Bichot as president, he instigated a sustainable viticulture approach which is now coming to fruition. Domaine Adélie, Pavillon and Clos Frantin are now therefore Ecocert certified.
Domaine du Clos Frantin
Domaine du Clos Frantin is the top estate within the wider Maison Albert Bichot Group. The domaine has an exceptional range of Grand Cru and Premier Cru sites in the Cote de Nuits and in recent years has been producing top drawer Burgundy, deserved of the terroir. This domaine has a total of 7.3 hectares of vines, of which 3.9 hectares are Grand Cru. The wines are very reasonably priced compared to some of their more prestigious neighbours and they provide good benchmark expressions of the hallowed earth the grapes are grown on. Top sites include the Grand Crus of Richebourg, Chambertin, Grands Echezeaux, Clos de Vougeot, as well as the Premier Cru site of Malconsorts in Vosne-Romanee.
Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru ‘Les Malconsorts’ is often regarded as the domaine’s flagship cuvee, due to the large 1.75 hectare holdings of the vineyard. It makes the domaine the largest proprietor on this historic site which neighbours the Grand Cru of La Tache.
- Grands Echezeaux
- Clos Vougeot
- Vosne Romanee “Malconsorts”
- Gevrey Chambertin “Les Murots”
- Vosne Romanee
- Nuits Saint Georges